Contemporary advertising's passive-engagement communication techniques may be based on quirks in our neurological circuitry.
The success of Marlboro's advertising in linking our yearning for rugged, romantic, independent manliness to a readiness to purchase a particular brand of prepackaged chopped leaves may reflect certain basic characteristics of how our brains process various kinds of input.
For example, sights appear to take precedence over sounds.
Television reporters have long known that if they show footage of, say, a violent incident in an otherwise peaceful demonstration, it doesn't matter how many times they stress in their voice-over narration that the demonstration was generally calm and orderly; people who weren't there will think of the demonstration as violent. (Meanwhile, those were there will often call the station demanding to know how the reporter could have "said" that the demonstration was more violent than it actually was.)
It could be that moving pictures are so experiential in nature that we process them as if they were actual experiencesa case of our brains simply not being set up to handle a "false experience."
Then again, what may be more important is the sheer emotional power of a symbol or image.
(c) COPYRIGHT 1998 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED