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Home arrow Marketing arrow The Neuroscience of Multimodal Persuasive Messages: Persuading the Brain

Inclusion of the Dog

Why would a dog be relevant in a commercial about energy sources? A few responses are valid. There is a certain appeal to nature even when we consider a domesticated animal. So, the dog could represent the balance she speaks of with nature. However, more likely, the dog is included because studies generally find viewers equate a more positive perception of a product or issue when a dog or cat is included in the commercial. This is linked principally to hippocampus memories. Most people have had pleasant experiences with domesticated animals. They are “cute” and “cuddly.” Certain breeds of dogs are also considered “loyal” and “friendly,” while others may be considered aggressive or threatening such as a Rottweiler, Bulldog, or German Shepherd. The particular breed used in the commercial is not one that would be considered threatening generally. So, the use of the dog has less to do with the issue itself and more to do with an effort to find a way to create a positive perception of the issue. So, again, this item is included within the Prior Experience attribute.

Message—Safe For Over 60 Years

The statement that fracking activity has been going on for over 60 years elicits further appeal to reward neurons and the amygdala. The viewer may not be aware that fracking is not new, and it has been done safely for a long time. So, one could perceive that additional fracking will contribute to rewards—such as lower costs associated with oil products and increased jobs. That is has been done safely for so long also addresses any perceived danger the amygdala may perceive.

People understand that even though they may just be learning about a given phenomenon, if it has already existed and has been proven to be safe, we are reassured of its safety and feel better about it. Through experiences with such events and understanding that they may be new to us but not new generally, we are reassured. So, this also is part of Prior Experience.

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