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  • Writer's pictureAndy Powell

Learn it all from the Neanderthals.

Richard Thaler, author of Nudge, was delighted to hear of my good work.

The Neanderthals get a bad rap. They actually had bigger brains than Homo Sapiens (you and me), were creating art 20,000 years before we arrived in Europe and were happily inter-mingling (and breeding) with us for about a thousand generations.

According to my DNA, I’m 2% Neanderthal – and there’s every chance you are too. So, what can we learn from them? Quite a lot, as it happens. Because they were part of the same, ongoing 35-million-year evolution that we’ve all been through.

And in a world that can feel like it’s changing at a startling rate, there’s something very reassuring about understanding what’s still the same as it’s always been. Especially when you can leverage that information to make your next campaign even more powerful. Fortunately, there are loads of interesting studies about behavioural psychology, and lots of learnings from what essentially is the largest consumer research ever conducted – evolution

It can tell you why using the colour red makes us more attentive, more active and more generous – on donation forms, watching the news, tipping our waiters and waitresses.

It can tell you how using faces can make us look in different directions and read different information, whether they’re human, animal or illustration – next to headlines, calls to action and URLs.

It can tell you why we’re more likely to change our habits around big, life-changing events, like moving house, having a baby or reaching a milestone birthday – meaning that we’re more likely to run a marathon, have an affair, even commit suicide.

And that’s just the start. So many brands and causes are already using the power of the oldest parts of our brain. From restaurant wine lists to tax returns, from zebra crossings to supermarket checkouts. When humans are already pre-programmed to be good for a sizeable chunk of our existence (around 20%, according to studies), isn’t it time you used millennia-old insights in your next campaign?


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