Catalytic Thinking

One theory: a raft of applications. Or, how I’m turning into my Dad…

The application of cognitive engagement theory turns us all into teachers. Which means I’m turning into my Dad.

Perhaps we’re not marketers at all. Or brand awareness specialists. Or graphic designers. Or advertising gurus.

Maybe we’re none of these things.

We could be teachers instead. Just like my Dad who is one of the best teachers I know.

Let’s look at the facts. Teachers teach using a variety of media which (hopefully) addresses the various different learning styles (check out the Fleming VAK/VARK Model).

They want information to be retained, processed, applied and subsequently examined.

Educators have to engage their pupils. Otherwise they’re just talking at them, not with them.

Sound familiar?

As creatives, we use a variety of channels to address the different information acquisition methods that our insight tells us exists within our audience (channel segmentation based on data analysis).

We’ve got to make sure that the audience retains our message – whether through the road-block approach or brilliance of delivery.

We’ve got to get our audience to apply what they’ve learnt and form a purchase intention.

And finally, we’ve got to examine our audience and campaign to see whether it’s all worked.

In other words, we have to teach… And our audience are our pupils.

Park that for the moment – let’s move into cognitive engagement.

Essentially, engagement theory runs something like this:

The intentional and purposeful processing of lesson content. Engagement, in effect, requires strategies that promote manipulation rather than memorization, as the means through which learners acquire both lesson knowledge and deeper conceptual insight. Engagement can be elevated through a variety of activities such as inducing cognitive dissonance, posing argumentative questions requiring the development of a supportable position, and causing learners to generate a prediction and rationale during a lesson.

(There are loads of other great cognitive engagement articles out there if you want to dig deeper – this is one of my favourites)

So, intentional and purposeful processing of lesson content. Lighting up different parts of the brain in response to different strands of a task. Thinking and interacting…

Almost as though reacting to an advertising or marketing campaign then.

We require our pupils to intentionally and purposefully process our message. They need to think about why our product is better than the leading brand, and what this will do for their daily existence. They need to integrate the message, and they can only do this through purposeful processing (for further thoughts on integration, have a look at the BIIR principle).

But there has to be a payback. The creative and the product have to be good enough to reward the increased mental effort. But that’s a story for another time…

Some of the best campaigns of the moment are brilliant examples of cognitive engagement theory (I’m thinking of the IKEA Cats and Marmite specifically) – because they work on a number of different levels, lighting up the different bits of our brains. IKEA’s cats not only guide us around the store (“How would that lamp look in my living room”) but also give us the wonder of exploration, the kinaesthetic memory of a soft bed with clean sheets etc. Marmite engages through humour, cognitive dissonance, taste memory etc.

In other words, they make us process…

There’s the argument that true integrated campaigning is the purest form of creating cognitive engagement with our audience. How right that is…

The more we get our consumers to engage across media – from the billboard to the Tweet via the Facebook Group and interactive content (on/offline) – the more they become cognitively engaged and the deeper the brand message gets driven. The more bits of the brain they light up, the more centred our message becomes.

But let’s think about creating true cognitive engagement in every channel, not just through the integrated spectrum. Let’s think about how we can cognitively engage through the billboard, the DM, even the SMS.

So that’s the task and the world’s our classroom. Let’s teach…


3 thoughts on “One theory: a raft of applications. Or, how I’m turning into my Dad…

  1. another metaphor is a coach. As a coach seems to carry the responsibility of teaching as well as inspiring.


  2. Pingback: Firestarting marketing. Are you ready to create the future? «

  3. Pingback: The UK food industry is squandering its best opportunity for decades (and where are the marketers?) | interacter

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