Scientists have studied learning and memory for many years. Ivan Pavlov is particularly well known for his theories on conditional coding. Classical conditioning focuses on creating associations between meaningful objects or ideas and a desired response.

Consider how marketers have attempted to use classical conditioning in their advertising. Examine print or television advertisements. Respond to the questions below.

    • The name of the product being advertised.
    • A description of the advertisement.
    • An explanation of how the ad utilizes conditional coding.
    • A discussion of whether or not the advertiser is using conditional coding properly.
    • Comments on how the advertiser might better use classical conditioning to market to the target audience.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The name of the product being advertised in the sample advertisement I watched is Old Spice Men's Body Wash. The advertisement uses magical realism , humor and physical appeal--appeal of person, place and possessions--to present compelling reasons for women, their target audience, to make their men switch to a man's...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The name of the product being advertised in the sample advertisement I watched is Old Spice Men's Body Wash. The advertisement uses magical realism, humor and physical appeal--appeal of person, place and possessions--to present compelling reasons for women, their target audience, to make their men switch to a man's body wash. The ad is driven by the unspoken assumptions that women do the shopping for their men and that the household uses one brand of shower body wash. In the ad, a popular male sports figure, half stripped, stands in front of an open shower holding Old Spice Men's Body Wash.

A description of the advertisement.
The sports figure hunk draws the target woman's attention to the unfavorable comparison between "your man" and "me": "Look at your man, now look at me" so he can condition her on the virtues of Old Spice. Magical realism takes him and viewers to a yacht where he is magically dressed in pastel casual clothes. Another change has diamonds dripping from his hand and yet another has him on a horse on a tropical island. The script has him saying: "Look at your man, now look at me. Look at your man, back at me. Look at your man, back at me. Look down, now back at me. Look down, back at me." The script equates "me" with the sports figure, Old Spice, physical appeal, luxury yachting, entertainment, diamonds, tropical get-aways, "smelling like a man" and "smelling like me." The tag line is that with Old Spice, nothing is impossible.

An explanation of how the ad utilizes conditional coding.
Classical conditioning is defined, as in Oxford Dictionary, as the repeated pairing of two stimuli so that, over time, the response elicited by the second stimuli is transferred to the other so that the response is elicited by that second stimuli alone (as per the classic food and bell). The primary pairing is of the sports figure hunk with Old Spice. There is a negative association of the sports hunk and "your man": "Look at me. Look at your man, back at me. He's not me." There is another pairing of the sports hunk with "nothing is impossible" and another with "smell like a man."

A discussion of whether or not the advertiser is using conditional coding properly.
In this Old Spice Men's Body Wash commercial, it appears that conditioning codes are used correctly. There is a repeated pairing of "your man" with "me": "Look at your man, now look at me. Look at your man, back at me. Look at your man, back at me." The implied and assumed response elicited is positive sexual association following "now look at me." In addition, there are further pairings between "look down" [at where you are] with "Look up, now what do you see?" The implied pairing between "me" and someone using Old Spice is that, with Old Spice, "I" can bring about the impossible just as "me" can.   

Comment on how the advertiser might better use classical conditioning to market to the target audience.
The verbal conditional coding breaks off at the end when the brand slogan is stated, "Smell like a man." The strong conditional coding would have been carried over effectively into the slogan with the addition of another verbal pairing: "Look at me. What am I holding? Old Spice. Smell like a man." Even though visual pairing did continue through the end portion highlighting the slogan, visual pairing and verbal pairing operate through different synaptic pathways. This causes a break in concentration while cognition switches from one task to another, thus weakening the conditional coding effect. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team