“Deep Metaphors” connect with people

Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman of HBS (yep, it’s HBS catchup day) wrote a book on marketing using deep metaphors: Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers. You can read an interview with them here, to get a better idea of what the book covers, and what they mean by “deep metaphors”:

Deep metaphors are basic frames or orientations we have toward the world around us. They are “deep” because they are largely unconscious and universal. They are “metaphors” because they recast everything we think about, hear, say, and do.

One example that they discuss is Coke’s highly successful “I’d like to teach the world to sing” campaign, which didn’t say much about Coke, but tapped into the deep metaphors of connection and social balance. The book apparently details 7 of the most commonly used deep metaphors across a variety of products.

If consumer goods are able to tap into these deep metaphors to improve sales, this information ought to be extremely useful to social sector organizations actually working to improve things like social balance. Perhaps the trick is to keep the message metaphorical, since “most thinking occurs without awareness”? Are we hurting ourselves by talking about literal benefits to society rather than speaking in metaphors? Is speaking to the unconscious more powerful than trying to raise consciousness?

5 responses to ““Deep Metaphors” connect with people

  1. Роман Строганов

    + video interview with Gerald Zaltman

  2. Awesome link – thanks!

  3. Do you now what is “Semiotics-based picture sort based on the work of Gerald Zaltman”?

    As I understand this is new on-line qualitative research techinque.

    I read about this in November issue of “Research World” but could not find details…

  4. I’m not familiar with the work you mention, but I can make a guess. Since semiotics is the study of images, symbols and signs, I would guess that some people are flashing images of brands, products, etc onscreen and asking participants to react positively or negatively. They are likely trying to see if any images strike the deeper unconscious in the same way that words or messages can strike a universal chord, as per Zaltman.

  5. Thanks, Jeff! I think you are right.

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