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You Are Less Beautiful Than You Think

In April 15, 2013 Dove launched a 3-minute video entitled “Dove Real Beauty Sketches.”
The video achieved instant popularity and has been watched millions of times — a successful viral campaign which has been widely talked about.
In the video, a small group of women are asked to describe their faces to a person whom they cannot see. The person is a forensic artist who is there to draw pictures of the women based on their verbal descriptions. A curtain separates the artist and the women, and they never see each other.
Before all this, each woman is asked to socialize with a stranger, who later separately describes the woman to the forensic artist. In the end, the women are shown the two drawings, one based on their own description, the other based on the stranger’s description.
Much to their amazement and delight, the women realize that the drawings based on strangers’ descriptions depict much more beautiful women. The video ends: “You are more beautiful than you think.”
The idea is quite appealing. Perhaps too many women are unhappy with their looks. It would be a big relief if we all suddenly realized, like Christian Andersen’s ugly duckling, that we are in fact beautiful.
However, what Dove is suggesting is not actually true. The evidence from psychological research suggests instead that we tend to think of our appearance in ways that are more flattering than are warranted.
This seems to be part of a broader human tendency to see ourselves through rose colored glasses. Most of us think that we are better than we actually are — not just physically, but in every way.
The most direct evidence that the Dove commercial is misleading comes from the work of Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago and Erin Whitchurch of the University of Virginia. In a series of studies, Epley and Whitchurch showed that we see ourselves as better looking than we actually are.
The researchers took pictures of study participants and, using a computerized procedure, produced more attractive and less attractive versions of those pictures. Participants were told that they would be presented with a series of images including their original picture and images modified from that picture.
They were then asked to identify the unmodified picture. They tended to select an attractively enhanced one.
Epley and Whitchurch showed that people display this bias for themselves but not for strangers. The same morphing procedure was applied to a picture of a stranger, whom the study participant met three weeks earlier during an unrelated study. Participants tended to select the unmodified picture of the stranger.
People tend to say that an attractively enhanced picture is their own, but Epley and Whitchurch wanted to be sure that people truly believe what they say. People recognize objects more quickly when those objects match their mental representations. Therefore, if people truly believe that an attractively enhanced picture is their own, they should recognize that picture more quickly, which is exactly what the researchers found.
Inflated perceptions of one’s physical appearance is a manifestation of a general phenomenon psychologists call “self-enhancement.” Researchers have shown that people overestimate the likelihood that they would engage in a desirable behavior, but are remarkably accurate when predicting the behavior of a stranger.
For example, people overestimate the amount of money they would donate to charity while accurately predicting others’ donations. Similarly, people overestimate their likelihood to vote in an upcoming presidential election, while accurately predicting others’ likelihood to vote.
Most people believe that they are above average, a statistical impossibility. Theabove average effects, as they are called, are common. For example, 93 percent ofdrivers rate themselves as better than the median driver. Of college professors, 94 percent say that they do above-average work. People are unrealistically optimistic about their own health risks compared with those of other people.
For example, people think that they are less susceptible to the flu than others. Stock pickers think the stocks they buy are more likely to end up winners than those of the average investor. If you think that self-enhancement biases exist in other people and they do not apply to you, you are not alone. Most people state that they are more likely than others to provide accurate self-assessments.
Why do we have positively enhanced self-views?
The adaptive nature of self-enhancement might be the answer. Conveying the information that one has desirable characteristics is beneficial in a social environment. People may try to deceive others about their characteristics, but deception has two main disadvantages.
First, it is cognitively taxing because the deceiver has to hold two conflicting representations of reality in mind: the true state of affairs and the deception. The resulting cognitive load reduces performance in other cognitive functions. Second, people are good at detecting deception and they show strong negative emotional reactions toward deceivers.
Since in self-enhancement people truly believe that they have desirable characteristics, they can promote themselves without having to lie. Self-enhancement also boosts confidence. Researchers have shown that confidence plays a role in determining whom people choose as leaders and romantic partners. Confident people are believed more and their advice is more likely to be followed.
Dove’s premise is wrong. But thinking we are more beautiful than we really are may not be such a bad thing.
Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe. He can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas.

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What Abercrombie & Fitch Ads Would Look Like With Plus-Size Models (ANF)

Earlier this month, Business Insider reported on Abercrombie & Fitch CEO’s Mike Jeffries refusal to market or sell clothes for women who need XL or above sizes.
“We want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” Jeffries said.
The fashion retailer’s definition of “cool and good-looking” does not include plus-sized women since the brand refuses to manufacture women’s clothing in XL and XXL.
In America today 67% of women are considered plus-sized, and one of them has decided to speak up.
The Militant Baker, a voluptuous blogger known as, Jes, has created an “Attractive & Fat” image campaign which features her modeling – sometimes topless – in Abercrombie-style clothing with a slim male counterpart.
Along with the images, she has posted a letter to Jeffries in response to the CEO’s comments and his apology shortly thereafter.
Jes wrote to the CEO: 
Never in our culture do we see sexy photo shoots that pair short, fat, unconventional models with not short, not fat, professional models. To put it in your words: “unpopular kids” with “cool kids”. It’s socially acceptable for same to be paired with same, but never are contrasting bodies positively mixed in the world of advertisement. The juxtaposition of uncommonly paired bodies is visually jarring, and, even though I wish it didn’t, it causes viewers to feel uncomfortable. This is largely attributed to companies like yours that perpetuate the thought that fat women are not beautiful.
Here’s a selection of the images she posted. We are just as curious as Jes as to Mike Jeffires’ response.

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Samsung's New Ad Campaign: Men Are Idiots

Samsung‘s latest hardware ad campaigns seem to revolve around a similar message: Guys are complete idiots. We’re talking slow, sloppy, ‘it’s surprising they remembered to put on their pants this morning’ dumb.
Earlier this month, The Viral Factory started promoting an ad made by Possible for the Samsung Series 9 — a computer monitor — in which a man thinks that his stuffed dog is, in fact, real. (Watch the spot below.) He simply doesn’t understand why ladies on benches don’t want to pet his “dog” or why Buddy refuses to pee on walks.
That is until he drags his leashed dog to a store window housing Series 9 monitors that play videos of golden retriever puppies on a loop. Shock, horror, betrayal, and then the voice-over that says, “Having the real thing is an awesome thing.”
The next hardware spot (watch below) opens with a caveman-like husband watching cavemen on TV as he farts, grunts, and eats fried chicken. The ad is for Samsung’s Evolution Kit, which turns televisions into smart TVs. The man’s neglected wife imagines what it would be like if she could plug the Evolution Kit on her husband. He essentially turns into Suzy Homemaker with the ability to juggle eggs pre-baking, rock the baby to sleep, and finish the ironing without breaking a sweat.
Adweek notes that the agency is undetermined, “CHI & Partners, global agency for Samsung TVs, says it wasn’t them.”
72andSunny created an ingenious and niche campaign for Samsung phones. Apple-bashing has become a sport, not just a marketing platform.
But Samsung’s ad strategy for its televisions and computer hardware is handled by different agencies and is still finding its way.
Although the “Evolutionary Husband?” spot seems to resonate with fans at almost 10 million views in just a week, other marketing attempts have been less successful.
Who can forget Samsung’s horrible storage device ad in 2012 that reimagined slow computers as cute puppies that were brutally beaten and killed by frustrated masters. Yes, really. The ad has been pulled but you can see a breakdown with images here.
We’ll see if the “guys are dumb” niche sticks.
Here’s the ad where the guy doesn’t get that his dog isn’t real:

Here’s the ad where the guy doesn’t get basic human interaction:

SEE ALSO: How Prada Grew Its Brand Value Faster Than Any Other Last Year >

How Dove's 'Real Beauty Sketches' Became The Most Viral Video Ad Of All Time

Just one month after its release, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” has garnered more than 114 million total views, making it the most viral ad video of all time. (See video below.)
The short film used an FBI-trained sketch artist to draw women first based on their own self-perception and then based on that of a stranger. The stranger’s descriptions were regularly more stereotypically attractive and similar to what the subjects actually looked like — hammering in Dove’s point that women are often overly critical of their appearances and don’t see their true beauty.
In spite of some criticism, the video’s self-esteem boosting message clearly resonated with a massive audience. It was uploaded in 25 different languages to 33 of Dove’s YouTube channels and has been viewed in more than 110 countries.
But how did it reach that extreme level of virality?
Emotions
Of course the simplest answer is that it elicited a strong emotional response from viewers.
Dove published survey data asserting, “Over half (54%) of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic, which equates to a staggering 672 million women around the world.”
David Waterhouse, the global head of content and PR at viral tracker Unruly Media agrees.
“I think what made this campaign perform particularly strongly is the content, which elicited the intense emotional responses of ‘warmth, ‘happiness’ and ‘knowledge’ from its target demographic — one of the key factors behind a video’s sharing success,” he told Business Insider. “But, more importantly, we are really seeing social motivations behind sharing becoming a lot more important. Brands have to give people a reason to share the video.”
Sharability
A video really soars when consumers don’t just want to watch it on YouTube, but they also want to share it with their friends. That’s why good content is a key starting point.
According to Unruly’s data, the video was shared 3.74 million times, which makes it the third most shared video of all time. And it even has a better share-to-view ratio (one share for every 30 views) than Evian’s “Roller Babies” ad, the previous record holder (one share for every 30 views).
“Roller Babies” has been shared 3.6 million times on Facebook, 117,900 times on Twitter, and 1,800 blog posts.
But what really stands out is the Dove campaign’s fast momentum starting the day of its launch.
“The pace of sharing for this campaign is also unprecedented,” Waterhouse said. “In its first two weeks it attracted an incredible 3.17 million shares — that’s more than any other ad has managed in the same period, including VW’s  ‘The Force,’ [TNT’s] ‘Dramatic Surprise,’ and ‘Dumb Ways To Die,’ the first, second and fourth most shared ads of all time respectively.”
Here’s a graph of Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” share statistics in its first month:
Roll Out Strategy
The client also did some careful media planning. 
Dove Skin VP Fernando Machado told BI that the video first launched in four key markets: the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Australia. It was then rolled out abroad, and uploaded in 25 languages and seen in 110 countries.
“The brand partnered with YouTube and Unruly to facilitate the distribution and seeding strategy,” Machado said. “PR served as a key channel, generating initial placements with media such as the Today Show, Mashable, Huffington Post and Channel 7 Morning Show in Australia. The film was distributed to top media around the world and was quickly shared by women, men, media and even other brands.”
This lead to 4 billion PR and blogger media impressions and counting.

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The Cable Business Is Finally, Really Getting Killed By The Internet

After years of premature declarations of the death of pay TV, it looks like it’s actually starting to happen.
In the last twelve months pay TV — cable, satellite, and fiber — lost 80,000 subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group, via Janko Roettgers at GigaOm. This is the first time the pay TV business lost subscribers like this.
Bruce Leichtman, head of Leichtman Research, attributes some of the losses to Internet video services.
“First-time ever annual industry-wide losses reflect a combination of a saturated market, an increased focus from providers on acquiring higher-value subscribers, and some consumers opting for a lower-cost mixture of over-the-air TV, Netflix and other over-the-top viewing options.”
Roettgers says this is particularly noteworthy because Leichtman has been a cord-cutting skeptic.
While cable isn’t going to suddenly drop dead, it sure looks like Netflix, Amazon, and broadcast TV are providing a solid alternative to paying ~$60 a month for cable television.

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This Is What Twitter's New Groupon-Style Ad Product Looks Like (GRPN)

Twitter started testing a new “lead-generation” ad product today, and it looks a lot like a Groupon-style daily deal product.
The ad unit comes in one of Twitter’s Cards, the expandable display unit that allows users to show a photo.
Advertisers can offer Twitter users discounts or deals in the unit, and anyone who wants to claim it can do so with the click of a button. The unit automatically forwards the user’s Twitter ID and email to the advertiser, who then fulfills the deal.
Here’s what its going to look like:

Twitter has tested the unit with New Relic (@newrelic), Full Sail (@fullsail) and Priceline (@priceline), and now plans to roll the thing out to small and medium sized businesses. “Marketers regularly talk to us about their goals, and for many it boils down to one major theme: generating leads, and ultimately driving purchases,” said Mitali Pattnaik Twitter’s product manager/revenue in a blog post.

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There's A Huge Flaw In Yahoo's Monetization Plan For Tumblr (YHOO)

When we published a leaked copy of Tumblr’s ad sales pitch deck on the day Yahoo acquired the social blogging site, you may have noticed some odd language on the last page: The part that says “non-targeted.”
Why would Tumblr be offering “non-targeted” advertising for $200,000 per campaign?
The whole point of advertising on the web is that it is highly targeted: You can target people by purchase history on Amazon, by shopping intent on Google, by demographic on Facebook, and reader interest when you choose specific, niche publishers.
We asked a Tumblr representative to tell us what the targeting options were for Tumblr’s new “in-stream” ads that will show up in their dashboard newsfeeds. But we haven’t heard back yet.
Three sources, however, tell Business Insider that Tumblr’s ad targeting is in fact just as modest as the pitch deck suggests it is.
“Fairly dismal”
“It is fairly dismal,” said one ad buyer. “I’ve never ever heard any of our customers ask about Tumblr ads, maybe a handful ask us about Tumblr analytics,” with the exception of one standout client that the source declined to name.
Another source told us, “They don’t know much about people [their members] and targeting is very, very limited. They only recently enabled targeting for U.S. only!”
One huge issue for Yahoo is that currently there is very little inside Tumblr to target. Users can get an account with an email address and by filling in their age. They don’t have to provide any other identity information. Tumblr is thus filled with people using names that don’t even identify them as male or female. It’s the opposite of Facebook, which has dozens of “real identity” fields that gather targeting information from users.
Tumblr, in fact, has the same targeting problem that Twitter has: It literally doesn’t know who its members are.
“Not robust enough”
Tumblr’s ad targeting metrics are therefore thin, Mashable noted recently:
Beena Kalaiya, associate director, strategic insights and social media at media-buying firm Optimedia, says that Tumblr doesn’t provide the sort of metrics that advertisers are used to. “The analytics are better than they used to be, but not robust enough,” she says. “I’m hoping that Yahoo helps in that respect.”

(We also contacted Union Metrics, Tumblr’s official content analytics agency, for comment, but the company demurred — it focuses on content not advertising metrics.)
One targeting option Tumblr does have are the tags and text that users publish in their posts. Someone tagging a post with “soccer” is probably a soccer fan, and thus could be targeted with sports-relevant ads.
One source tells BI that this is a huge plus for Tumblr: “keyword search or running NLP [natural language processing] on the blog posts as well, to better target ads that Yahoo will obviously now drive [is] probably more relevant than any kind of registration data, in my opinion.”
“They can match their data with Yahoo’s”
A separate source agrees, “they can match their data with Yahoo’s to improve targeting possibilities.”
Yahoo has made two suggestions about hot it might target ads on Tumblr. The first is by utilizing its new Yahoo news in-stream ads. Those ads become more relevant to users as they search and read more Yahoo content.
It’s easy to imagine how the relevancy of ads in Tumblr might increase based on the same mechanism.
The second way is via a Tumblr ad exchange. On the day of the acquisition, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer hinted she might create an ad exchange for Tumblr. Such an exchange works by dropping a tracking cookie onto the browser of any incoming Tumblr user. That cookie would signal to users that a new Tumblr user has arrived in the system. Advertisers could then see what other cookies that user might have collected from previous sites, and then target that user with ads inside Tumblr based on their browsing history.
SEE ALSO: Tumblr’s Ad Sales Pitch Deck Says Brands Will Now Be ‘Front And Center’

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How Prada Grew Its Brand Value Faster Than Any Other Last Year

Millward Brown and BrandZ just released its list of the most valuable brands in the world, and one of this year’s big surprises was how quickly and substantially Prada’s value grew.
In 2012, the luxury retailer’s brand value skyrocketed 63%, bringing it to $9.5 billion, in the BrandZ calculation. That makes Prada the fourth most valuable luxury brand in the world, but the number one riser in any category. Its value increased more than any other brand on a percentage basis.
Even though Louis Vuitton held its place as the most valuable luxury brand internationally, it still managed to see its valuation fall 12%.
So how did Prada gain so much momentum?
“What Prada has done really well is that it has focused on the right market,” Millward Brown VP Oscar Yuan told Business Insider. When Western Europe was struggling in the economic downturn, for example, Prada focused on the Asian markets and Brazil.
“Prada really benefitted from a careful selection of where to focus its resources,” Yuan said.
Last year, Prada decided to add 80 stores annually, 30 of which were planned for China.
SEE ALSO: There are the 20 most valuable brands in the world >

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Dumb Move: Nutella Issues Cease And Desist Order Against Its Biggest Fan

Some companies believe that the best form of advertising comes through word of mouth.
Not Ferrero SpA, the Italian confectioner which owns scrumptious hazelnut spread brand Nutella.
Today, Ferrero SpA sent a cease and desist to Sara Rosso, founder of World Nutella Day, a seven-year-old event and organization that celebrates the Italian delicacy.
Notwithstanding the event’s Facebook page’s 40,000 “likes,” Ferrero SpA asked Rosso to remove the site. She stated on her website that the Italian firm asked her to disband the organization because “they consider it to be an unauthorized use of their intellectual property and trademarks, the Nutella logo and brand.”
The company’s idiotic move has been best described by a Rosso supporter’s recent post on her Facebook page: “Nutella…more nuts in company management than in every jar.”
And, as is common when multi-national corporations initiate asinine, self-defeating tactics, news of the cease and desist order has gone viral, prompting the Italian company to take a more cooperative approach toward the World Nutella Day founder. 
Ferrero is currently in discussions with the Nutella advocate.
Rosso wrote on World Nutella Days website that she has no hard feelings towards Ferrero.
“Most of my interactions with various employees & consultants has been positive,” she writes. “Of course I wish it hadn’t happened in the first place, but I’m pleased at the speed of resolution and that the site & holiday will continue. In my conversation with them they seemed genuine about appreciating fans of Nutella.”
SEE ALSO: Inside Advertisers’ Scary World Of Facial Recognition Technology >

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Advertisers Are Watching You: Inside The World Of Facial Recognition Technology

If you thought that facial recognition software was just some obscure, futuristic technology that only has real-life applications in sci-fi flicks like “Minority Report” and “Gattaca,” think again.
Big business has refined facial identification. And it is everywhere.
As Lesley Stahl reported on “60 Minutes” last weekend, “the ability of computers to identify faces has gotten 100 times better, a million times faster, and exponentially cheaper.”
The “60 Minutes” segment gives an in-depth account of all the scary advancements in the field – highlighting the technology’s ability to track your whereabouts, mine your personal data, and even predict your social security number.
If you’re not too freaked out to learn more about the insidious ubiquity of facial ID-ing, we’ve summarized the 60 Minutes segment in the slideshow below. 
Carnegie Mellon’s science lab created a toy drone outfitted with facial recognition software so advanced that it can identify a face from a far distance. The lab’s research is expected to take surveillance to a whole other level.

The facial recognition software can either capture real people from its cameras or convert a flat image into a 3D model.

The software maps people’s faces with dots and then creates a “faceprint” as unique as fingerprint. The image produced can be matched with pre-existing photos stored in databases.