Saturday, March 31, 2007

Here froggie, catch this fly...

In his book, “Marketers are liars”, author and blogger, Seth Godin makes this interesting point :

"An average frog’s brain weighs ten grams. A human’s weighs about sixty times as much. Despite the substantial evolutionary investment in human brain power, despite the vast number of brain cells devoted to our eyes and our ability to process what we see, most people are unable to snatch a housefly out of midair, with or without their tongue. The fly is too fast and we are too slow.

Yet frogs do this every day.

How does a frog get by with so little? How can a frog, with its minuscule brain, find a fly, track it, aim its tongue, launch it and then capture the fly in less than a second?

The frog has optimized its brain for hunting flies. It turns out that a frog is unable to see anything that is motionless. A frog surrounded by recently killed bugs will starve to death, unaware there is plenty of nutrition just inches away. At the same time, a frog can grab a fly out of the air with its tongue faster than any person can.

The frog’s secret?
It watches only for changes in the environment. It has a brain that can only do one thing well, and that’s watch the sky for moving bugs. By ignoring the static environment and only focusing on what’s new, it can be far more efficient than a human when it comes to catching flies.

Humans use the strategy far more than we realize. Not to catch flies, of course, but to keep up with the huge influx of data we wrestle with every day. We are constantly scanning the world around us for changes; Walk into your house and within a heartbeat you know if something has changed. . We can’t grab a fly, but we can walk into a supermarket and at a glance tell, if there’s a new brand of beer

This human trait to notice change is precisely what the advertisers target, to grab and engage your attention, and thereby promote a new product. We are all frog-like in our behaviour and can be enticed by moving flies or baits that marketers dangle in front of our eyes..

Reminds me of a cartoon by Don Martin in Mad magazine, in which the fairy-tale princess would kiss the frog and turn it into Prince Charming. Then they get married and ride off blissfully in the coach together, when the prince will suddenly notice a fly and zap it with his ten foot tongue.

Once a frog, always a frog.

Somewhere within your large brain, probably deep inside the reptilian complex, there lurks this frog mentality which is what the advertisers try to tap into.


Anonymous said...

An extremely interesting insight! Good one!

Raj said...

mysorean, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Frogs :-) they use the same technology that we use to enode our video/audio files ? :D. The MPEG encoders code only the difference between two successive frames or samples. for mp3 downloads. :-).

Bharat Srinivas said...

A really good piece by Seth Godin!! And you too!!