Yesterday I stumbled on this 1991 news story about “Mind Scan” and its inventor, Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson. I’ll wait to comment until after you’ve had a chance to view it.
So “Mind Scan” was really early neuromarketing – the measuring of brain response to marketing messages. What struck me is how little has changed in 19 years! Sure, the technology is more slick today, but Dr. DLW was more or less measuring the same things back then as neuromarketers do today, they just have better equipment.
Second thing that struck me is how much more creeped out I was by “Mind Scan” than I am by neuromarketing. At first I thought it was just the early 90’s hair-do. I was a teenager at the height of Auqua Net 80’s, and that’s just not something you get over easily. Then I realized it was more the language this reporter used. She talked about having her mind read, she talked about designing the “perfect” ad and the “perfect” sales pitch, and she used this language rather enthusiastically.
It creeped me out.
Today there are few neuromarketers who will try to claim (at least publicly) that neuromarketing is mind-reading or that it can design anything perfect from the ground up. The only time I hear about neuromarketing having such extreme powers of mind-reading that would result in the equivalent of consumer mind-control is when people first hear the term neuromarketing and immediately jump to all kinds of conclusions based on their own cognitive biases.
I personally believe that neuromarketing has potential for tremendous good, and I’ll explain that in another post. But this video was also a clear reminder that sometimes big business and marketers can lose sight of a greater purpose. It’s not always bad intent, it’s just simply the way the organism of business must function – profit or perish. Neuromarketing had its origins in the belief that the perfect ad and sales pitch could be created — never mind that that would soon enough be moot if neuromarketing went mainstream. It’s impossible for everyone and everything to be at the top.
Today, we’re a little more tempered with our beliefs about what neuromarketing can accomplish. And as we strive to create better marketing messages, to reach our customers/clients, to break through the noise…
Keep it in mind folks — check in with your mission and your purpose frequently.