I got issues: why did people vote for Trump? Their attention was fully engaged

A company called SPARK Neuro¬†says it “employs the most cutting edge neuroscience tools to create more engaging storytelling in advertising, entertainment, and other sectors.”

That is, it attaches you, a viewer, to a device that measures your brain activity while you watch a TV commercial for, say, soap or cars, and then reports to the client what point(s) in the ads spark (get it? SPARK) your attention the most. Arouse you, fully engage your attention. And the client can thereafter construct its ads to engage the viewer fully.

Didn’t I see this in some science fiction film?

I’m sure I did. Nevertheless, SPARK has determined, via one of those studies, that Trump holds attention better than anyone in the whole universe. (I made that part up, the part about “the whole universe.”) SPARK actually compared Trump political ads to Hillary Clinton political ads.

And Trump grabbed everyone’s viscera better than Hillary did. Wow.

I have SO many questions about this study, starting with: was Trump grabbing attention from a lot of people the way horror films grab attention? What criteria did the participants in this study apply to choosing a politician? And — very important — how many hours of reality TV do the participants watch each week?

And more.

So I’d say the question “why did some people vote for Trump” can’t be answered by saying “Trump grabbed their attention.” Because even SPARK’s study notes that the attention-grabbing factor occurred even among people who did not vote for Trump, or when Trump said disagreeable things.

So that’s the good news: Trump isn’t casting some hypnotic spell over listeners. People are transfixed because, well, maybe they’ve never seen anything like it before in the context of politics.

The bad news is the same as all the bad news is: some people voted for Trump.

And I’d like SPARK’s clients — among whom are P&G, Toyota, GM, Netflix and Telemundo — to know: I don’t pay any attention to your TV commercials.







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