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    The Clockwork Universe Of Traditional Advertising Vs Chaos Theory Of The Now
    Advertising has alot to do with Chaos Theory and I will show you how. However, lets start with a guy called Alan Turing who, by the way, was an absolute genius.

    Many may not have heard of him, but on the 10th of September 2009, Gordon Brown made a formal apology for the way Alan was treated after the second world war. He (Alan, not Gordon – heaven forbid) was falsely accused of gross misconduct and offered imprisonment OR female hormone treatment to ‘cure’ his homosexuality. Alan took the 2nd option and after a significant bout of depression, ate an apple he had laced with cyanide. He was 41 years old and the year was 1954.

    Alan Turing’s paper on chemical morphogenesis was the start of a realisation that life itself is constructed of random, uncontrolled events that produce ever-so-slightly different results each time. This, in addition to other work such as the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, progressed thinking toward ‘Chaos Theory‘ which, in the late 60s, augmented the laws of Newtonian Physics which was based on predictable, organised structures. In actual fact it was a guy called Lorenz who realised that predicting the weather was a fallacy…such is the unpredictable nature of nature.

    The predictable structures (exemplified in models of a ‘Clockwork Universe‘ for example), were fine and dandy until it was realised that even the most predictable and known elements could output totally random results. Blame was originally cast at anything other than the ‘machinery’ of life, but eventually theses like ‘The Butterfly Effect‘ prompted society to believe that indeed, chaos and unpredictability were stitched into the fabric of our very existence.

    This infinite randomness showed extreme, ordered beauty and the maverick mathematician, Benoît Mandelbrot mapped out a complex picture which is infinite. The exact maths can be found here but put simply, it is self-creating (as seen in morphogenesis) due to a never-ending ‘feedback loop’. What is created, feeds back into the creating. Forever. It doesn’t simplify at any given magnitude, which qualifies the boundary as a ‘fractal’.

    Some people call this ‘The Thumb Print of God’, but, perhaps more agnostically, I find it to be one of the most incredible pictures in the world – and here it is without any magnification, the Mandelbrot Set:

    The more you travel through it, the more the fractals develop. Below is a very deep zoom into the fractals (and you can even run your own open source code to simulate the same if you are so inclined):

    You may think – what the hell has this got to do with advertising….?? Well actually, quite a bit in my opinion.

    The way I see it is that traditional advertising methodology is somewhat akin to Newtonian Physics. Solid rules with finite structures and predictable outcomes. This is perfectly valid and proven over many years.

    However, the world we live in today challenges the interpretation of a brand and the usage of media channels, due to the extreme interactivity of citizens and the commoditisation of (previously) corporate-level technology.

    People are empowered to have an opinion and publish it widely. Brands can be built and destroyed by the public without any involvement of advertisers.

    What this means for advertisers is that involvement doesn’t stop when work goes out the door and the creation of a brand itself, actually includes the people that were once seen to be on the receiving end of communication.

    Totally random outcomes are unpredictable and instantaneous in today’s ultra-connected society and our beloved brand ‘onion’ and brand ‘key’ needs to be augmented to allow for this, in the same way as Newtonian Physics was augmented by Chaos Theory.

    Where before the brand models had integrity and values emitting from a core to a waiting audience, we now see random cells (citizens) having a morphing effect on brands at every stage of the process.

    As a disclaimer, at this fluid world we are starting to assist advertisers all over the world on what can be done to enjoy this opportunity, and this is just the beginning. The more you consider the biology of business, the Chaos Theory we see in real life is actually here and now in terms of communication – commercial or otherwise.

    The only thing you can predict accurately is the unpredictable results.

    Ad vitam aeternam.

    Jonathan MacDonald

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    Sat, Apr 9, 2011  Permanent link
    Categories: chaos theory, advertising, media
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    nagash     Sat, Apr 9, 2011  Permanent link
    reading this post I coudn't help but think of the below image. for me it was a fatal hit on a rebrand for which Pepsi payed 1 million bucks

    Ehfo     Sun, Apr 10, 2011  Permanent link
    Ah yes, the classic Pepsi "fail". I don't see how they could have ever thought that that looked like a smile...thanks! i had forgotten about that!
    BenRayfield     Sun, Apr 10, 2011  Permanent link
    Did Pepsi pay a million dollars to stop people from seeing that picture? The picture appears to be about soda making you fat from its sugar. What was the million dollars for?

    People communcating about products (or anything else) is a fractal because this pattern is repeated recursively:

    someoneXTellsSomeoneYAboutProduct(x, y, opinionOfX, opinionOfY)
    On average, opinionOfY becomes opinionOfY*.95 + opinionOfX*.05, each time this happens.

    When opinionOfY becomes very high or very low, the fractal repeats:
    someoneXTellsSomeoneYAboutProduct(y, z, opinionOfY, opinionOfZ)

    If opinionOfY is low and opinionOfX is high and both tell z, then z will be more likely to choose 1 of the 2 opinions and spread it (continuing the fractal) proportional to the amount of the conflicting opinion told to z, as a way of rebelling against the lies pushed toward z.

    I try to avoid looking or listening to advertisements because I do not want my opinions to change subconsciously. It takes a lot of work to fix my subconscious mind to not think the things repeated in those advertisements and associated with ideas like "If you drink this soda then half naked girls will come to you". Brains think by association mostly, and advertisers have figured out that brains do not care if the 2 things to be associated are actually related in any way.

    The problem with advertisers is they put incorrect data in this function:
    someoneXTellsSomeoneYAboutProduct(x, y, opinionOfX, opinionOfY)
    They use it this way: someoneXTellsSomeoneYAboutProduct(x, y, greatest thing ever, opinionOfY)

    Considering that someoneXTellsSomeoneYAboutProduct is called with incorrect data, I do not understand why most people think its ok to use the information from that, instead of relying only on the deeper parts of the fractal - where people tell other people about it. Its obvious which part of the fractal is more useful and more accurate. But I've known people who prefer to watch commercials instead of mute the TV for a few minutes and talk to their friends watching TV with them. They want to watch advertisements.

    I get my news the same way. If its not important enough for someone to tell me about it to my face or on the phone, then its not important enough for me to watch on TV. I get my information mostly from the deeper parts of the fractals, where it goes back and forth until it tends to converge on the truth.

    How do you use the fractals?
    Ehfo     Tue, Apr 12, 2011  Permanent link
    Im not so exposed to advertisements (at least not television wise..i havent had a tv for 7 or so years) but judging from the fact that I can still sing the jingles to many products from my teenage years, i know that my sub concious was infiltrated at some point.

    I think there are many types of brains, some of those more open and willing to except media adverts and make associations as you described above, and those that see the advert, and make no relative associations.

    I know those types of people as well who like to watch commercials, and it seems as though they have received something from them in the past, whether it be a perspective, a product that has in some way "helped" them, entertainment, or enlightenment (if one could EVER imagine someone who is enlightened by an advert...well, they exist :-)

    I think some people just arent equipped to dig deeper in to the media fractal and seek out information as youve done.

    Great comment! got me thinking!