Revealed - The First Ad Campaign For Monkeys
    By Hank Campbell | June 27th 2011 03:39 PM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    In the immortal Richard Donner classic "Scrooged", the following exchange takes place between Frank, the president of the network, and his boss, Preston:

    Preston: Do you know how many cats there are in this country?
    Frank: No, ummmm...I don't
    Preston: Twenty-seven million. Do you know how many dogs?
    Frank: America?
    Preston:  Forty-eight million. We spend four billion on pet food alone.
    Frank: Four...?!
    Preston:  I have a study which shows that cats and dogs are beginning to watch television.  If these scientists are right, we should start programming right now.  Within years, they could become steady viewers.
    Frank: Programming...for cats?
    Preston: Walk with me, Frank.

    It was funny because it was ridiculous but we also knew that as neuroscience began to reveal its mysteries it might not be that far out.   Just recently, a study has shown that talking cartoon birds are not far off the mark and new research is also examining primate similarity to humans in order to understanding marketing.

    It's advertising...for monkeys.

    Laurie Santos gave a TED talk last year on 'monkeynomics' - the realization that monkeys understood an abstract idea like currency, and two advertising executives happened to be in the audience and struck up a dialogue with her.

    The result: A monkey ad campaign shown at the Cannes Lions Festival, to see if they can change the monkeys' preference for Jell-O flavors.   

    Obviously some people will be derisive and lump it in with non-science wastes of money that still get science funding like how quickly parents adopt trendy baby names or why political candidates make vague statements.    But neuroscience is the most mysterious frontier humanity will set out to understand in the next century.

    Does sex sell for monkeys the way it does humans?  Apparently so.   Rowan Hooper at New Scientist has seen the billboard ads for the monkeys and can reveal (pardon the pun)
    One billboard shows a graphic shot of a female monkey with her genitals exposed, alongside the brand A logo. The other shows the alpha male of the capuchin troop associated with brand A.
    "After we settled on what they were being sold and that we were going to be doing 'sex sells', we really wanted to make a very direct ad. We wanted to shoot our subjects involved in normal day-to-day life," said Keith Olwell and Elizabeth Kiehner.

    In "Scrooged" they ended up putting a dormouse in the program to appeal to cats.  Maybe random bananas will start showing up in Jell-O commercials this decade.

    The first advertising campaign for non-human primates -  Rowan Hooper, New Scientist
    H/T Alex Berezow, RealClearScience


    Gerhard Adam
    Sure .... why not?  After this, perhaps the marketing geniuses can figure out how to entice pathogens to take a vacation in a different species instead of invading humans and then we can cure disease and the economy in one step.
    Mundus vult decipi
    thanks man, had a good laugh!

    I can't say that I'm surprised with the results, but this was an interesting test and the TED presentation was equally enticing. Though, I doubt that it will be anytime soon that most of us will be able to perceive gains and losses equally (much less ignore various marketing techniques that play on our primal desires and instincts).

    "Rowan Hooper at New Scientist has seen the billboard ads for the monkeys and can reveal (pardon the pun)..."

    Where's the pun?

    reveal (the genitals)

    I thought so. Interesting how people can have such different ideas on what constitutes a pun (e.g., i wouldn't remotely label the above as one).

    But it's irrelevant. The monkey sex topic is a fascinating one all the same.

    Its much easier that all that

    people buy dvds of birds and other wild animals to play on tv for their cats and dogs to watch, I don't see a speciality channel much farther behind.

    my cats prefer to watch skiers and they try to catch the fast coloured objects - they also like the aquarium screen saver on the computer

    I wasn't willing to buy a bird DVD, but I did go out and film some birds to see if my cats would watch the geese and swans on the lagoon, they didn't

    I think we spend more on pets than babies now.