Behavioral Economics At The Effies

Given all the hype about the marketing potential for behavioral economics, it's interesting to look at the Effies as a good barometer of how pervasive behavioral economics is in driving great effectiveness and creativity.

A couple of observations. First the majority had little to do with behavioral economics. Most, like the Old Spice, Kia Soul, or Toyota Sienna campaign, tapped into great cultural trends and left it at that, but about seven by my count were driven, either unwittingly or not, by applying a great behavioral insight to a marketing problem. Here they are:

1. The mini vs porsche: Classic anchoring, don't compare yourself to your natural category competitors, but take on someone out of your league. Even when they beat you by 2 seconds, you're in the same league as a porsche only $30k a second cheaper.

2. Norton Anti-Virus: Maybe a bit of a stretch, but by making the threat of virus attack malevolent, vivid and encouraging viewers to choose an action, they made virus attack seem more likely and choosing Norton something people had already virtually agreed too. Interesting that this came from Leo, home of Mayhem, which didn't win any Effie awards (?), but clearly someone at Leo knows a thing or two about the psychology of fear.



3. A simpler way to ship: How do you take on Fed Ex and UPS, when you're the United States Postal Service. Talk about a brand problem! But by making their product all about the first step being simple, CE delivered 1200% above plan, not bad.

4. US Census: Why should you take the time to fill out the census? By invoking the norm of fairness "we can't move forward until you mail it back," Draftfcb invoked community solidarity to trump individual selflishness. The result: $1bln in savings to the taxpayer.

5. Walgreens: Why should you get a flu shot? The certainty of spending time and money for the 1 in 5 chance of avoiding the flu. Instead of promising future protection, Arc delivered immediate rewards, making the flu shot about "arming yourself for the ones you love" and becoming a badge for who you want to be. Nice.

6. Southwest airlines: We're irrationally attracted to the power of free, so a campaign around "bags fly free" when every other airline is sure to be nickel and dime-ing customers, was sure to be a winner, but a $1 billion in share gain? Wow!

7. Verizon "Map for that": If it rhymes, it's more likely to be true! Make sense -- no, but that's how we're hard-wired, enabling Verizon to beat AT&T by making their competitive claim so simple it rhymed.

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