Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mythical Creatures and Urban Legend

While reading an article about Frank Luntz (who we learned about from the Persuaders) I noticed an icon for a news story about 'El Chupacabra' being sighted. I immediately clicked it wanting to read about this urban legend / mythical creature being spotted (and even killed for DNA testing!) Then, after reading the article and discovering that the 5 or 6 reports of the creature since the original sighting in 1995, have actually turned out to be coyotes and raccoons with severe mange disease, I felt disappointed.

Why is it, that people all over the world want to believe in creatures that, like this blood-sucking goat killer, could be dangerous? Benjamin Radford, the managing editor of the journal The Skeptical Inquirer and LiveScience columnist, has a theory:
"The thing about myths is that people want to believe in things," he said. "I suppose that, in a perverse way, there's something comforting in that there's this vampiric monster that doesn't attack humans."

To read Radford's article, click here.
Also, check out this site full of other mythical creatures we humans believe in!

Photo courtesy of:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Energy Shots- Concentrated Awfulness

The beverage world hasn't been the same since Energy Drinks were released- well in 2004 it changed again and has been growing ever since. Most people have seen commercials for 5 hr Energy, which was the first of these 2 ounce, concentrated caffeine drinks. This article from the New York Times in 2009, talks about the price of the drinks (20 times more per ounce than a Coca-Cola!) and about the 700 million dollar industry.

Why are consumers so in love with drinks that cost $3.99+ for two ounces and taste horrible? Because of all the wonderful things they do of course! Just watch this commercial:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marathoners - A social membership group

Consumers are often influenced by what we call reference groups- groups that we actually belong to, aspire to belong to, or groups that we want to disassociate ourselves from. Many purchasing and marketing decisions can be related back to these groups. For instance, professional sports fans purchase jerseys because they either 'belong' to the group of fans that support a team or they 'aspire' to be like their favorite athlete. 

Since completing my first marathon on Sept. 11th, I've noticed that runners in general are a reference group as well. If you really enjoy running, you might consider yourself  "a runner".  Runners are almost an elite group of individuals that find running not only enjoyable, but necessary in their day-to-day lives --it's more than just being in shape, it's part of who they are. Participating in road races or trail races furthers the notion that you belong to this group- not only do you enjoy it, but you also compete. 

Marathoners are a whole other sub-group within the larger reference group. These runners have a kinship with each other because not only have they run a distance that many gawk at, many come back to run it over and over. After running my race, I posted to my Facebook that I am now a 'marathoner', my friend wrote back that "You're now part of the group with all the other crazies". We joke about ourselves while being proud at the same time. Hal Higdon, a famous runner and contributor to Running World Magazine has written several books about marathons including this quote: 

"It's an extra special event. It's like tacking a Ph.D. at the end of your name, getting married, having a baby. You're special, whether anyone else knows it or not. You certainly do. Your life will never again be quite the same, and regardless of what the future brings, you can look back and say, "I finished a marathon." " -Hal Higdon, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide