Friday, August 15, 2008


There was a time when announcing something was free virtually guaranteed a queue to form or a box of samples to head out the door. David Ogilvy once called “Free” and “New” the most effective words in advertising. Now, for “free” not so much, as it becomes commodified by internet widgets, music downloads, YouTube and the growing list of free information, entertainment, services. Free is no longer enough. Now people also wonder, “It may be free, but is it me?”

Luckily help is at hand in the form of “New”. Yes, neuroscientists have discovered that the word “New” is hard-wired into our brains (and may I add, hearts). “New” might only be three letters long but there’s a lot of power in every one of them and they’re each packed with innovation, mystery and future promise. No wonder when we hear the word “New” attached to a brand or product, we sit up and take notice. We can’t help it. Choosing the “New” literally turns on the lights in the brain’s ventral striatum (I bet you knew that already). Dr Bianca Wittmann at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London did the tests. However the intricacies of the process work, the result is that the brain sends out a reward signal when the “New” is chosen over the known. And we like that reward.

Enthusiasm for the “New” has to be tempered in marketing of course. The people at Coca-Cola still pale whenever the “N” word is mentioned. Yes, New Coke may have been a flop but the “New” is what drives the creation of Fads. These products or services with a lot of Love but not much Respect in the Love/Respect Axis, are great sources of innovation, differentiation and added value. Help turn the “New” into a Lovemark by adding Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy in transforming quantities and, if our brains get a bit of pleasure along the way, so much the better.


Piotr Jakubowski said...

I think the word "new" would really depend on the type of brand and product being marketed. Obviously the emotional tie to Coke was too large in order for it to be recognized as New. They could've just changed the formula and I don't think people would have noticed.

That being said, the word "new" itself seems to bring with it that sense of mystery. What exactly is so good about this product? What's better?

I guess you have to buy it and see, right?

the paper bicycle; Peter Scarks said...

New means new is thw one thing that remains as the likeliest source of debate in innovation. While some like to subscribe to Sir Joshua Reynolds and claim that nothing is original, it is a sign of immense hope and clarity of purpose that allows someone to take that bold new step to creating something as yet unexperienced. In a world where 11 in 12 new products fails, perhaps it is some genuine pioneering spirit that is required so that innovation retains its purpose and is the fountain of new.