The Allan Gray TV ad has the following pay-off line: "Human beings are ruled by emotions. It defines who we are. We (meaning Allan Gray) disregard emotion. We research everything. Then we invest". This is a regrettable and poorly researched basis for an advertisement, when emotional intelligence (EQ) is increasingly being recognised as a critical component of superior performance.
Goleman (1999), makes the point that, "(what you learned at school) is just a threshold competence; you need it to get in the field, but it does not make you a star. It is emotional intelligence abilities that matter for superior performance..." (p.19). In his 1996 book, 'Emotional Intelligence', Goleman cites pre-eminent neurologist and neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, who stated "feelings are typically indispensable for rational decisions; they point us in the proper direction, where dry logic can than be of best use... the emotional brain is as involved in reasoning as is the thinking brain..." (p.28).
If these authors are correct, emotions are not only necessary for proper decision-making and superior performance, they are indispensable. Consequently, claiming to 'disregard emotion', as the ad states, does not seem to be such a hot idea. This, however, can still be forgiven, if the ad means to target those ignorant folk who see emotional intelligence as an oxymoron and that anything to do with emotions will result in poorly informed decision making, particularly if it comes to taking care of their hard-earned cash. Well, for them, ignorance is bliss!
A matter that, however, remains problematic, is the claim that emotions can be 'disregarded' - interpreted as meaning that emotions can be completely blocked-out, put aside, through the power of the conscious mind or will. This claim is simply incorrect, because the very thoughts that are applied to control or 'disregard' emotions, are themselves influenced by emotions. In his book, 'Looking for Spinoza', Antonio Damasio (2004) takes this further by stating: "...the emotional signal can operate under the radar of consciousness. It can produce alterations in working memory, attention and reasoning so that the decision-making process is biased toward selecting the action most likely to lead to the best possible outcome, given prior experience. The individual may not ever be cognizant of this covert operation. In these conditions we intuit a decision and react on it speedily and efficiently, without any knowledge of the intermediate steps..." (p. 148ff.)
Working memory and attention, I may add, involve the concurrent and flexible manipulation of various pieces of information - which together with decision-making, seems quite necessary to do 'research' and make good investment choices. Personally, I'd be a bit worried if my broker claimed to disregard emotion, bearing in mind that EQ rather than 'pure' IQ is increasingly becoming a key criterion in recruitment.
So, ladies and gentlemen of the ad agency, this advertisement is not doing your client any favours, at least if we accept the considered opinion of experts on emotion and reason. Bringing intelligence to emotions in research and investment rather than claiming to disregard them as a weakness, would be a USP that could serve Allan Gray well and create salience for this brand in an environment that sees dry reason and logic as the ultimate pinnacle of excellence.
Sources: Damasio, (2004): Looking for Spinoza. London, Vintage; Goleman, (1999): Working with emotional Intelligence. London, Bloomsbury; Goleman, (1996): Emotional Intelligence. London, Bloomsbury.
Dr Kay Brügge is a life- design practitioner with post-graduate qualifications in psychology and neuro-psychology, specialising in qualitative research and project management, driving market and social research projects, including methodology development and focus group facilitation. With a PhD in neuro-psychology and special interest in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), he is interested in the analysis of subliminal messages in advertising and the subconscious influences of the retail environment on the consumer. He can be reached on email: .
I feel sorry for the other members if you belong to MENSA-
You really do need to realise that you are not going to get a slew of new business as a result of what is tantamount to the silliest attack in the history of marketing communication commentary.
You have taken an obscure viewpoint that no other consumer is going to get gung-ho about. Why because they don't have an agenda that includes creating a level of credibility for themselves as a brave new viewpoint in adland.
If that is what you were aiming for , then you have sorely failed here too. Your commentary has a total lack of relevance to the issue at hand. The point of the advert was that Allan Grey are methodical and logical in their investing behaviour- that perhaps they do take risks , but that these as with everything else is calculated.
Move out of the idea that you will become a branding guru by touting academic essay style arguments over common sense - which most consumers have in abundance. Oh yeah - the succesful marketers have it too.
Investment cannot tolerate emotions - ad makes sense-
The ad makes 100% sense to me. I teach sales training, and a key point I make is that purchase decisions are made 80% on emotion, 20% on logic. But this 80% EMOTION is important in how I perceive Allan Gray, not in how Allan Gray makes investments with my money. I like the fact that they work on clear principles - emotion interferes with things such as a [10%] stop-loss, which requires selling even if you think a share may go up.
So, yes, their ad intelligently addresses emotions in the correct context.
Many people get carried away with emotions, and it upsets me when many sales courses focus on NLP etc, which is a totally impractical approach in sales when you have a 10-minute sales meeting. NLP makes sense in personal relationships, not in business interactions. In business we need logic. Posted on 4 Mar 2005 09:56
Dr Kay...i'm sure you're the kind of person that head up reasearch groups and kill great ads with lots of academic quotes. In fact, given half the chance, you'd probably write and say that the Golf GTI ad doesn't work cos there's no way a car can make a corn field turn to popcorn and support it with a quote from Forest Gump. Posted on 4 Mar 2005 10:39
I must say that I love the Allan Gray ad, but I've always found that last line a bit disturbing, 'disregarding emotion'. Perhaps the copywriting could have been better. Otherwise, the message still works. Posted on 4 Mar 2005 14:29
We are discussing the content of the advert, the concept created and the words chosen to portray it. Their portfolio performance is irrelevant. The question is, did the advert drive you to investigate their performance and select them as your financial advisory firm? If yes, then the ad worked, if no, then it didn't. Posted on 22 Mar 2005 17:19
Actually I think it's the creatives that have their heads up their asses! I think this is a beautiful piece of writing and any up-to-date student of leadership or business in the new economy will know that Emotional Intelligence is even more important than IQ in business today.
This ad was crap - what a wank for the pale male investment fraternity. Wouldn't make me a client! Methinks the creatives must look out their little cubicles at the real world for a bit - they would find out that the vast majority of people in the industry certainly don't share their views on their important little ads. Just look at the Forums on this site - how many ads get dissed regularly. Most advertising, face it is utter crap and thank goodness for independent commentators that are willing to put their nuts on the line to produce well thought out and researched columns - notwithstanding the utter vitriolic of some of these comments on the site.
Dr Brugge is a lot braver than you anon lot! Posted on 8 Mar 2005 14:24
An advert should not be judged on its usage of up-to-date HR buzzwords unless it is appealing to the minute slice of the population who get hard-ons from the use of HR buzzwords.
I think that both of the commentators who find the communication flawed have forgotten that advertising is a communication - it's the way humans express the benefits of emotional appeal without a latex barrier.
It is an advert people. Which shows great emotional intelligence. Because it uses a powerful emotional appeal to prove Allan Grey's logical and easily understood rational brand argument: we research stuff rather just relying on our gut feels like so many high flying cowboy traders have done before us. We calculate the odds - before we put your hard earned money in a position of risk.
How much more emotionally intelligent do you get than that? (Without picking up a middle-aged spinster from St Louis at the World HR Practices Conference when it gets held at the Sandton Convention Centre). Posted on 11 Mar 2005 19:31
Would you trust a financial advisor devoid of all emotion? What you're saying is, he mustnt give a shit, he must just perform. It HAS to be a balance between the two. There are many advisors to choose from, equally exceptional performers when it comes to hard cold facts... what will win you over AFTER you have been presented with the facts?
I believe the target audience is in the envious position to choose the type of people they wish to do business with, and that's where we start looking at values (an emotional driver) Posted on 22 Mar 2005 17:24
The ad appeals to people who have a small touch of understanding of the world of investment.
EQ is a fashionable word for people with a human touch - nothing new, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with investing. There is no research linking EQ with investment success - none at all. What research there is addresses a different area altogether, and is anyway the usual claptrap - personal opinion masquerading as Science. Posted on 13 Mar 2005 18:21
IRONY... This ad is great, it utilises consumers'....(our) emotion to put a very clear and SIMPLE message across, "We don't just hazard a guess at how to invest your money...we research it" Now i can't think of anyone who would want to invest their well earned dosh with a company who claims to use both EQ and IQ in investment strategies. I mean come on folks...if Allan Grey told me they used their gut feel to judge quantitative results...after puking, I'd sat good-bye very fast!
The irony is that the ad is strongly emotive and holds the viewers attention, and tells them ONE thing, that they are responsible investors.
I think Doc is being overanalytical here...the average person is not going to disect with such anguish, what is currently a very fashionable, and if i may add, passe buz-word. Posted on 14 Mar 2005 16:07
Emotional intelligence is something WE as HUMANS experience... Since WHEN has a brand become intelligent?!?!?! It is the ability to capture the emotional endearment of a brand and capitalise on this when SELLING the brand which is intelligent ... I can picture it now my favourite brand of Whisky boycotting against the Brandy bottle because they have a nicer campaign ... PLEASE someone throw me a lifeline - or have we all run out of original thought so badly that we have to invent waffle to baffle the brains ... *eish* Posted on 12 Apr 2005 08:45
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