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Category : Thinking

Behavior Change Science Update: Moral Reframing

When Steve Jobs was trying to hire John Sculley, then the CEO of Pepsi, to come and work with him at Apple, Jobs said,

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

Sculley did leave Pepsi and join Jobs at Apple, becoming CEO. At first, it was a lovefest, but over time they clashed, leading to Jobs’ ouster from the company he had founded.

It turned out they didn’t share the same values.

For Jobs, changing the world was a moral imperative. For Sculley, the technology business was a cool consumer products business that was first and foremost a business.

This cautionary tale is a good way to introduce the topic of moral reframing. It contains all the tensions a behavior change marketer must resolve in order to successfully use this technique.

The news is that Robb Willer, a Stanford sociologist, has found that an effective way to persuade people in politics is to reframe arguments to appeal to the moral values of those holding opposing positions (https://news.stanford.edu/2015/10/12/framing-persuasive-messages-101215/).

We know from testing and experience that similar reframing works outside of the political realm as well.

For example, let’s say my company has invented a new way to get you to exercise more.

I believe that if you were to try my product, you would exercise more, be healthier, live longer and feel more energy and vitality.

In other words, in my moral universe, exercise is about health.

But, maybe my audience cares about cool experiences and being part of an “in” crowd. If I reframe my presentation of my innovation in that frame, I’ll make many more sales. My persuasive communication will be much more successful, creating much more behavior change.

If we design our experience around this frame, we’ll create much more sustainable behavior change.

So, why doesn’t this happen more often?

“Moral reframing is not intuitive to people,” Willer said. “When asked to make moral political arguments, people tend to make the ones they believe in and not that of an opposing audience – but the research finds this type of argument unpersuasive.”

Most people tend to pitch from their own frames of reference, and moral frames are the least flexible.

But, understanding the audience and employing the audience’s frame of reference is the core of successful communication.

So, let’s get back to that Steve Job’s story.

Did he know something about Sculley? Did he know that Sculley had achieved wealth, respect and power and was now looking for a legacy?

Very likely. Jobs was an excellent salesman.

Or, did Jobs just speak from his own moral frame and it happened to work in this case?

Jobs was a true believer, so this is likely.

I tend to think it was both. Jobs thought he’d found someone who was ripe to be influenced by a moral frame they could share.

This is the tension between leadership and sales, between brand and response, that must be managed.

Excessive personalization tends to obliterate integrity in the brand. By attracting people who don’t share your values, you end up with a customer, an employee – or in Job’s case, a boss – who doesn’t really share your values.

And, bad things happen.

One approach that works particularly well in politics is to look for a larger frame. This is a way to get beyond my frame or your frame.

For example, Lincoln believed “if anything is evil, slavery is evil.” Others believed “slavery is our God-given institution,” while still others believed “slavery is an evil, but it’s not worth risking war over.”

Lincoln looked for a new moral frame that could be shared by more of his audience. He found several. The first was: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” This, from the Bible, spoke to a broad swath of Lincoln’s audience. He employed the frame he later used in the Gettysburg Address, when he argued that the Founding Fathers had already dealt with the issue of slavery, that they had worked to set it “on a course of ultimate extinction.”

At the time, respect for the Founding Fathers was very great – it was a moral frame shared by a large percentage of the audience.

So, in sum:

  • Speaking from your own moral frame is integrity, but it is often ineffective integrity.
  • Speaking from your audience’s moral frame is more effective, but it can be manipulative and hurt the brand.
  • Finding a frame that can include both the brand’s values and the audience’s too ultimately creates the most sustainable behavior change while it builds the brand.

For our client, Weight Watchers, which believed in healthy weight, healthy lifestyle and healthy community and then found that their audience had shifted focus to healthy lifestyle, we found that their frame was already broad enough to adapt, and all that was needed was to refocus the members themselves.

For Sallie Mae, we saw that “Let’s Make College Happen” could unite all the constituencies – parents, students, guidance professionals and Sallie Mae employees – all of whom are focused on making college happen.

TradeStation was obsessively focused on the most powerful trading technology while living the Miami lifestyle. When it became clear that the audience cared about both, rather than just the awesome technology, TradeStation widened the marketing frame, and the result has been like a beautiful big blue wave.

Frame like a master, and you’ll love the results.

This has been your Behavior Change Science Update: Moral Reframing.

Happy #InspiringAction

Behavioral Economist Wins Nobel Prize

Thanks to the brave and brilliant contributions of one renegade, economic theory as we know it has been changed forever.

Richard Thaler, the world-renowned behavioral economist who has long challenged the standard economic model, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize earlier this month. His work, which Nobel Prize committee member Peter Gärdenfors simplified as “[making] economics more human,” has influenced our education system as well as government policy.

Thaler joins a small list of behavioral economists to win the award. Robert J. Shiller was among the winners in 2013, and Thaler’s longtime collaborator and friend, Daniel Kahneman, shared the award in 2002. Though they won before him, it is Thaler who is widely credited with bringing behavioral economic theories to the mainstream.

Thaler has dedicated his life to helping people understand how individuals make choices so that they can be led to make better ones. His best-selling book, Nudge, was the culmination of decades of behavioral science research, and was written to prevent people from making mistakes that can negatively affect their individual and collective well-being. That’s an inspiring mission, and one that resonates with all of us here at DiMassimo Goldstein.

We use behavioral change marketing to drive growth in brands and businesses that change lives for the better. We study the work of behavioral pioneers like Thaler to become experts at providing our clients with the strategies they need to drive profound behavioral change in the areas of healthy, wealthy and wise. Understanding human behavior is key to empowering brands to provide their consumers with a self-actualizing experience, — and that experience is what will ultimately inspire them to make better decisions and form more empowering habits.

This has been our mission for 21 years, and it’s never been more important than it is today.

We applaud people like Thaler for continuing to push the conversation forward, and for persuading more people to pay attention to human behavior. To read more about Thaler and his work, check out this article in The New York Times.

Congratulations on the honor, Richard, and keep up the good work!

The A-List Podcast: Episode 016 with Bobby Hershfield

This week on The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann interviews Bobby Hershfield, Partner and CCO at SS+K. Hershfield started his career in account management before eventually shifting over to copywriting during his time at Wieden+Kennedy, and since then he has spearheaded the creative for some of the world’s biggest name brands such as Dell, JCPenney, Target, CNN, and Johnson & Johnson.

Listen in as Hershfield talks about what makes an all-star account person, working with former A-List guests Eric Silver, Ty Montague and David Angelo, and why he ultimately took a pay cut to become a creative. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:19] Intro
  • [1:20 – 3:59] Hershfield talks about what it was like moving around a lot as a child, how he had to adjust, and meeting new people
  • [4:00 – 5:18] How Hershfield first discovered advertising from a Tom Hanks movie
  • [5:19 – 6: 53] Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, applying to letterman, and graduating in a recession
  • [6:54 – 11:01] Getting his first job at DDB in account management, being let go and having to work as a video store clerk before finally getting another job at Chiat\Day
  • [11:02 – 13:29] Working with Eric Silver, Ty Monague, David Angelo at Chiat\Day
  • [13:30 – 17: 34] The first “virtual office” and taking creative classes
  • [17:35 – 19:00] What makes an all-star account person?
  • [19:01 – 23:31] Hershfield’s mentors in account management, the feeling you get after he was let go, and the story of how he hung around until he was rehired
  • [23: 32 – 27:00] Accepting an offer at Wieden+Kennedy, the difference between New York and Portland, and how the culture at Wieden focused on the work and not the lifestyle
  • [27:01 – 31:19] Moving to New York to take a pay cut and shift to the creative side
  • [31:20 – 35: 24] Thinking irresponsibly and the different line of thinking you have to adopt to be a creative
  • [35:25 – 39:44] Working Albert Brooks for his first commercial
  • [39:45 – 43: 35] What it was like working under Ty Montague and the benefit of tough love
  • [43:36 – 47:20] Managing a team, being a mentor, and when you know it’s time to become a creative director
  • [47:21 – 53:47] What Bobby looks for in a young creative, what made Gerry Graf a special teacher, and the many advantages of attending Adhouse
  • [53: 48 – 54:43] Outro

“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter

Welcome to the Direct Age.

People have never had access to so many amazing tools for connecting with organizations and services that can inspire them to achieve incredible things. Not so long ago, “consumers” were out there. Marketers needed to learn about their customers and their preferences from “the channel,” the sales team, or from expensive market research. They needed to be recruited through retail or sales. It was hard to know much about them as individuals. Today, your customer holds you in her hand. Texts you. Tweets you. You are the button she pushes. You are the apps she launches. You are the tool she uses to get from here to there. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. You are your customer’s utility. Today, consumers have unprecedented direct access to the organizations that serve them. Equally, companies have unprecedented direct access to their customers and prospects. The direct age is the age of interactive selling. It’s the age of collaboration. It’s also the age of social customer service. If your service and your story works best for inspiring action in the customer, and if that action becomes habit, then you win.

We inspire greatness in individuals and in the companies that serve them through great direct experiences that inspire action.

 

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The A-List Podcast: Episode 015 with Omid Farhang

In the fifteenth installment of the A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann is joined by Omid Farhang, the chief creative officer at experiential agency Momentum Worldwide. Over the course of forty-five minutes, Farhang quotes the Wu-Tang Clan, talks about growing up as the child of an Iranian cowboy, and shares some of the most valuable lessons he learned working under and alongside the biggest names in the industry. Full episode and show notes below!

  • [0:00 — 1:36] Intro
  • [1:37 — 8:05] Farhang tells Tom about growing up the child of an Iranian cowboy, and the pressure he felt to become a doctor or a lawyer
  • [8:06 – 11: 53] How Farhang discovered advertising, and the emotions that ran through his head when he first walked into the Chiat\Day office
  • [11:54 –  18:14] How the Honda “Grrr” spot inspired him to go into advertising
  • [18:15 – 20:55] Wanting to be a writer and going to ad school with a sense of purpose and urgency
  • [20:56 – 22:55] How the definition of titles is changing in the industry, what he learned from the Wu-Tang Clan, and how he has been influenced by comedy and hip hop
  • [22:56 – 27:25] Starting as an intern at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, living in a basement, and the benefit of writing 200 headlines
  • [27:26 — 31:18] The lessons Farhang learned working as a young creative on Miller High Life
  • [31:19 — 36:12] Farhang walks us through his plea to Alex Bogusky for a full-time gig and why he dropped out of ad school without a job
  • [36:13 – 38:37] The interview process toward becoming a first time CCO, Momentum Worldwide, and the power of an honest business relationship
  • [38:38 – 41:00] Working with the children of NBA superstars for SAP’s “The Simple Report”
  • [41:01 – 46:00] The benefits of freelancing, releasing ideas into the wild and experiential advertising
  • [46:01 – 47:50] What “Malicious Obedience” is, and how young creatives can avoid it
  • [47:51 – 48:45] Outro

 “The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter

Inspiring Action Brand of the Month: 23andMe

If you could give people access to their own DNA, and interpret what it could potentially mean for their health in the future — would they change the way they lived? Would they exercise more? Make alterations to their diet? Stop smoking?

Would they change the way they behave everyday?

That’s the bet that Anne Wojcicki waged when she started 23andMe, a world-changing, first of its kind direct-to-consumer genetic testing company that aims to shift the way we think about healthcare from its current diagnostic model to one based on prevention.

Before launching 23andMe, Wojcicki had already led a successful career as a health care analyst on Wall Street. This career path also came with a front-row seat to the red tape and lack of action that was plaguing the health care industry. Convinced that America needed a more efficient and more consumer-focused way to treat illness and invent drugs, she decided to pioneer a path forward. By founding 23andMe, she made championing that change her life purpose.

It’s a mission that landed her on the front page of Fast Company, accompanied by the bold headline “The Most Daring CEO in America.”

“We’re not just looking to get a venture-capital return.” Wojcicki told Fast Company. “We set out with this company to revolutionize health care.”

23andMe’s $999 saliva kit, which was delivered right to customers’ doorstep, allowed consumers to track their ancestry. It analyzed their DNA, tested for 254 health risks, and alerted consumers on their susceptibility to certain diseases – all without having to go to a doctor. Just a few weeks after submitting your kit, the results would come in with tips and guidance on how to reduce those health risks. Wojcicki was using technology to shorten the cycle of optimization.

Having this type of information could potentially spur people to make healthier lifestyle choices. Learning that you are at a higher risk for a certain disease, simply because of your genetics may propel you to mitigate that risk by making changes where you can, like quitting smoking or beginning to exercise more.

After a blazing hot start, the company’s personal genome test kit would go on to be named “Invention of the Year” by Time Magazine in 2008 – just two years after the brand was launched.

More venture capitalist funding came pouring in, and 23andMe drove the prices of its tests down from $999 in 2007, to $399 in 2008, to $99 in 2012. The product was intentionally being sold well below its marketplace cost, because the real growth potential, and the world-changing impact that comes with it, doesn’t lie in the saliva kits.

Instead, 23andMe was steadily building a gold mine of health and DNA data by building on its wide community of consumers – a valuable commodity to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and even governments.

Each consumer is asked to participate in research, with a clear majority of them providing consent. All of the information gathered is under anonymity, with no individual data being sold. Through partnerships, this aggregated data could now be used to research and discover cures for diseases that spring up from troublesome genetic mutations.

23andMe was disruptive. It utilized technology to supplant an ingrained habit with something that didn’t formerly exist. An entirely new experience – and one that was less expensive, more convenient, and more consumer-driven.

And the disruptive brand is one that is met with confusion, uncertainty and resistance – and, in November of 2013, that resistance came by way of the FDA.

With a harshly worded email, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration demanded 23andMe to withdraw all its tests for genetic risks related to health from the market – limiting the company to providing information about ancestry and ancestry alone.

23andMe had failed to communicate with the agency and meet their compliance standards – leading their health analysis to being terminated due to the USFDA’s growing concern of inaccurate results — and the consequences that come with it.

And while its popular ancestry product has brought us hundreds of heartwarming stories, like this man who gained an entire family from conducting the test, Wojcicki founded 23andMe with a higher purpose in mind.

She and her company were in a difficult spot. Following the moratorium, sign-ups had dropped by more than 50 percent. The company was barely surviving on their ancestry services. This was a sink-or-swim moment.

But Wojcicki was a challenger, and 23andMe was a challenger brand. She started the company with a vision, and she wasn’t going to separate what they were doing from why they were doing it. This was simply another problem she had to solve – and when you have an inspiring idea, nothing is insurmountable.

If 23andMe was going to survive, Wojcicki would have to find a way to cut through the red tape. With her back against the ropes, she and her team began working closely with the FDA.

Two years later, in 2015, the FDA granted 23andMe approval for a different kind of testing. This test would be focused on “carrier status” reports, which tell you if you have a copy of a mutated gene for a disease like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. The mutation would not affect the consumer directly, but it could affect their future children. Still, 23andMe was not authorized to tell the consumer about their personal risk.

A far cry from the 254 tests the company used to offer, the FDA decision was a still victory for 23andMe. It was the first step in the right direction, albeit a small one.

Determined to lift that bar even further, the 23andMe team continued to work closely with the FDA, and earlier this year that hard work was finally rewarded.

On April 6, 2017, the FDA came out with a press release allowing the marketing of 23andMe Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) test for 10 disease or conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

This was a groundbreaking moment. The first direct-to-consumer test authorized by the FDA that provides information on an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases or conditions.

Until that moment, the only way for people to get such genetic tests was to see a medical professional. Now, 23andMe consumers can log in to an online account and see their report and its interpretation. Behaviors were being changed.

Wojcicki discovered that she had to work with the FDA, rather than against them, to really drive that change. And in doing so, she proved that there is a market for direct-to-consumer health care.

The door is now open. The FDA has established new and less rigorous guidelines for approving at-home genetic testing, which will allow other direct-to-consumer health companies to enter the market with less resistance. Plenty of competitors are already waiting in the wings.

Today, the company is still growing rapidly. Its products have been used in several research projects, including studies on female fertility, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and even nail biting.

With a current valuation of $1.1 billion, the company now boasts well over two million customers. This past June they were ranked #4 on MIT Technology Review’s 50 Smartest Companies List – right behind Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Behavior change is hard to create – but courageous marketers who obsess over helping people make more inspiring decisions and live more empowering lives will stop at nothing to do so.

Anne Wojcicki is that type of inspiring action marketer.

That’s why 23andMe is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Month!

Why Don’t You Do Time Sheets?

Time Sheet Doodle

The most creative activity in many agencies is filling out time sheets.

For eighteen years, we have never done one. Here’s why:

1) We don’t want to reinforce the silly idea that what we sell is time. We sell results.

We take that seriously and stick to it. Our compensation agreements align with it as well, accepting risk and reward for creating marketplace results.

2) We don’t want the moral or legal hazard of a practice that is almost universally abused. A process that at best is a waste of the very time it purports to record and at worst is a fraud. Sometimes accountants are creative people, but creative people are rarely accountants.

3) We want to spend all of our time and energy on the stuff we’re good at, the things that return the most value for our client’s dollar. We always strive to deliver much more value than we capture in revenue. And our agreements, often with lower fees and bonus for market success, bear this out.

4) No one benefits from a culture of nickel and diming over time. Not clients, who will feel hesitant to use the team to the fullest extent for fear of additional changes. Not agency people, who come to value their contribution in billable hours rather than in winning work. We never charge more for “going over” hours. Because we don’t measure hours, we measure value.

 

Brand Is What People Say About You When You’re Not In The Room.

brand blog

Branding is the process of building a coherent and distinct pattern of associations in the mind of a target audience.

When I say, “Apple,” a whole world of associations come up. When I say “Microsoft” a different world of associations come to mind. To the extent that both bring up associations, they have been “branded.” To the extent that those associations are clear, distinct, and helpful, they have been successfully branded.

Branding firms use culture, product, image, design, sound, voice, language, price, service, entertainment, celebrity, fashion, and interaction – an extremely broad range of tools – to build the brand. Today, the mission of an organization and the meaning of being associated with that mission is important to many people as well.

Too often, branding is associated with much more limited objectives. For example, logo and visual identity standards. While these are key tools for branding, they alone don’t create the brand.

Very often, when people use the word “brand” they are referring to what the company thinks and says about itself.

But brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room. Brand is about what your audience feels about you in their heart of hearts. Your brand is not what you tell people it is, your brand is what people tell people it is. What you say is just your attempt to affect that understanding.

Today, brands are built by great products and services, first and foremost. In a world of online reviews, advertising and spin cannot trump a predominance of bad experiences. Not everyone, but your target audience must be delighted.