How many decisions do you think you make in a day? Hundreds? Thousands? If you can believe it, on average, we make 35,000 decisions every day. That seems like an absurd amount. The reason why we’re not all rocking back and forth from mental overload is that we spend almost half of our day on autopilot and around 40% of the actions we perform each day are not actually decisions, but habits.

I was thinking about this recently because last month I saw an advert that not only made me think, it had an influence on the decisions I now make. The advert in question was from the Human Society. ‘Save Ralph’ tells the story of a rabbit called Ralph, a tester that is subjected to government-required chemical-poisoning tests for cosmetics.

The campaign is harrowing. I assumed that the cosmetics I used were cruelty free, but I had never checked. A quick google directed me to cruelty free kitty where I learnt that it’s unclear whether or not some of the brands that I use were in fact cruelty free. Luckily the site signposts you to brands that are, like Garnier.

As I write this in mid-May, bookmaker Coral have the odds on this summer being the UK’s wettest since records began at 2-1. However, in April I was naively optimistic and decided to buy some sun cream. Instead of buying my usual habitual brand, I proactively decided to chose Garnier instead.

When you consider how many decisions we make every day and how difficult it is to get people to actually think about things, it’s amazing that a carefully crafted marketing campaign can do just that.

I asked my LinkedIn community what campaigns had made them change the way they think and this is what they said:

“Public information films from the late 70s. No, I’ve never played on a railway line or touched the electrified rail. Terrifying.”

Chris Alden, Freelance copywriter

“Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste had a huge impact on our family’s approach to food. We plan meals in advance, buy less and if anyone is even thinking about throwing something in the compost bin, someone else says: “What would Hugh do?”

Carolan Davidge, Coach, coach supervisor, non-executive director and Trustee

“There is a good service on all other lines” TFL station announcements. One of the best bits of marcomms to shift the image of the network. Before this was introduced, you just felt that the underground was a service where there were always problems, but afterwards to a service where apart from the odd upset, things were generally OK.”

Daryl Fielding, Portfolio Director

“Scottish Water’s ‘only 3Ps should go down the loo – poo, pee and (toilet) paper’ I hasten to add that I didn’t need to be taught this! But brilliant, simple messaging that as a parent, I loved.”

James Cant, Chief Executive Officer at Resuscitation Council UK

“Missing Type campaign by NHSBT had a big impact on me and I’m now a blood donor despite a fear of needles!”

Helen de Soyza, Head of Brand and Communications at Blood Cancer UK

“The speed limit ad from a few years ago – the little girl runs into the middle of the road, is hit by a speeding car horrifically, then the film reversed to show what would have happened if the car had driven within the speed limit. Shocking but with a clear message about how to stop the accident happening. I think of it pretty much every time I drive through a residential built up area and it always makes me slow down well under the speed limit.”

Gill Westwood, Head of Creative at British Heart Foundation

“Stop, look and listen from THINK. For road safety for kids, the song still sticks with me now when I cross the road”

Nicholas Marshall, Digital Account Director, MediaCom

Further reading:

  1. 35,000 Decisions: The Great Choices of Strategic Leaders
  2. Moving From Autopilot Towards Mindfulness
  3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Photo by Travis Grossen on Unsplash

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