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Consistency Trigger

GEICO’s Masterful Use of the Consistency Trigger

What do camels, fishermen, scapegoats, free-range chickens and Dora the Explorer have in common?

They’re all the subjects of the current video ad campaign for GEICO Insurance, where people, animals, or fictional characters are shown engaging in, or being subjected to, apparently absurd behavior, but which turns out to perfectly congruent with who they are. A voice-over announcer concludes, for example:

“If you’re a free-range chicken, you roam free. It’s what you do. If you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, you switch to GEICO. It’s what you do.”

Launched in 2014, the campaign is a another in a series of satirical and sometimes outrageous TV spots designed to grab attention and entertain. But in the case of the “It’s what you do” campaign the Martin Agency, GEICO’s longtime advertising firm, is either intentionally or inadvertently pursuing the activation of a powerful emotional trigger. From the original book edition of The 7 Triggers to Yes:

People are slaves to consistency and conformity. Our internal guidance system compels us to be consistent with the way we see ourselves and the way we see our admired peers. From birth forward we create an internal databank recording emotional feelings based on beliefs and past performance.

The amygdala employs this past performance databank as an easy, safe, comfortable, non-thinking guide to make current decisions and to generate action… When we learn what others have done in the past, what they will be consistent with, we gain incredible power to persuade.

By depicting surprising and amusing scenarios of behavioral continuity, and then likening them to the viewer’s own neurological attachment to continuity and conformity – it’s what you do – the GEICO spots are all about activating the Consistency Trigger.
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Your Brain on Social Media Sharing: Is it Emotional?

What makes a piece of web content go viral? A video of a tiny hamster eating a tiny burrito, for example (7,130,728 views at last count). Or, perhaps more importantly, what’s happening in our brains that trigger us to either share or not share something we consume online?

Sharing of information – gossip, news, humor – is as old as the back fence where grandma would kibitz with her crony next door. But in an age when everyone is a major media broadcaster, decisions about what gets shared can have enormous commercial and cultural consequences.

Nicholas Hune-Brown looks into research investigating what the “buzzy,” trend-predicting brain looks like. Researchers identified significant activity in the temporoparietal junction, or TPJ, in test subjects who were able to select ideas and content that were likely to be adopted and shared – in other words, potentially viral.

The TPJ is part of the brain’s “mentalizing network,” which we use to think about the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s the part of the brain that sparks during successful conversations, when we’re trying to figure out how to communicate, or when we read a book and try to put ourselves in the mind of the main character. While reading the most successful pitches, the interns weren’t just concerned about enjoying a pitch themselves—they were anticipating what others might enjoy. The people most able to make something “go viral” were those who instantly began thinking about how to make the information useful to a larger community.

The discovery here is that promotion of an idea or piece of information occurs in the area of the brain associated with empathy, compassion, selflessness. People are thinking about what others would enjoy or appreciate. This is pre-frontal lobe stuff, not the limbic brain. Notice that Hune-Brown refers this area of the brain as a mentalizing network – not an emotional center.

The brain is a highly complex and interdependent system, of course, and there are emotional needs which are undoubtedly met by the mentalizing process of sharing. One’s Consistency Trigger might include, for example, an aspect of self-identity that says, “I am someone who shares passions and joys rather than keep them to myself.” So it’s an emotional trigger that may prompt an inclination to share, while the sharing itself appears to activate the higher functioning, socially conscious regions of the brain.

Read the entire report here.