vase_face_reframingAdvertising is a lot about framing and reframing beliefs. However, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone talk about the “how” and “why” of reframing as it relates to advertising. I’m currently writing a book on that (and possibly an app) based on the brilliant work of Robert Dilts, L. Michael Hall, et al. (Also a much overlooked book that applies Content Reframing to graphic design named “A Smile in the Mind”).

Reframing works much like a movie director does, using different framings and lenses to focus our attention. It’s as much art as it is science. (Example: Check out this brilliant, old spot for the Guardian newspaper.)

At the core of reframing is the idea that “Nothing means anything except within a context”.
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So changing the context can change the meaning. For instance, killing someone is a horrible thing – it’s murder. Unless it’s within the context of someone breaking into your house to kill your family. Then it’s self-protection.

Joke structure is a lot about leading you to believe one thing, and then shattering that belief. (Reframing). So is ad structure.
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Beliefs help us to have some stable, dependable idea about the world based on limited information. The downside is that they can also mentally put us in a box. Reframing sends our mind in different directions. And helps us “think outside the box.”

Research and data can help you understand your customer’s beliefs and mindset. Strategies that utilize thoughtful, respectful reframing can help them move past their objections to understand your product/service in a way that fits better with their values.

The powerful connection between Data Science DataFRAMES* and Belief ReFRAMING/Jokes.
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People talk a lot about finding the “meaning” and “story” in data. I believe the DataFRAMES (like the ones used in Data Science programming languages R and Python) and the mental FRAMES within which we hold beliefs are intimately connected. DataFRAMES hold in-time instances of certain categorizable events. But they are limited; they can never have ALL the information. (Even Google can’t have next week’s data.)

Beliefs are the same way. We can’t ever have ALL the information. So we form beliefs to guide us until we get more information. Then we update those beliefs. (For the Subjective Bayesians reading this, isn’t that basic the idea of a priori and a posterior? That probability quantifies a “personal belief”?)

(Not coincidentally, this is also the basic structure of most agency creative briefs. “What belief does the customer currently have?” “What belief do we want them to have?” “What information do we want to give them to change / update their current belief?”)

The famous Kaggle Titanic dataset is simple example of the connection between DataFRAMES and FRAMING. In one dataframe, the story is that 41% more women survived than men. In a more limited dataframe, the story is that many women were overcharged for their ticket.

(*For those of you who haven’t worked with data science language dataframes, they are very much like Excel spreadsheets on steroids, with rows and columns, but much more powerful capabilities for holding and manipulating data.)

Are Belief Structures the path to targeted AI / Programmatic Creative?
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I think so. But not without a lot of “human-in-the-loop”. There’s just too much magic in creativity to be reduced entirely to logic. I believe soon we’ll be able to diagnose areas and opportunities where brands are strong / weak and try different “creative algorithms” (i.e., belief structures / reframing patterns) to amplify and affect those areas.

Here are some examples of just one of MANY reframing patterns (“creative algorithms”) you’ll find in ads and jokes. It’s called “Apply-to-self” – a pattern you may recognize in the following Geico commercial and jokes:


“I worked at a fire hydrant factory. You couldn’t park anywhere near the place” ~ Steven Wright

“If a word in the dictionary was misspelled, how would we know?” ~ Steven Wright

“I went into a McDonald’s yesterday and said, “I’d like some fries.” The girl at the counter asked, “Would you like some fries with that?” ~ Jay Leno

“Scientists have located the gene that causes alcoholism. They found it at a party talking to loudly.” ~ Jay Leno

“I Xeroxed a mirror. Now I have an extra Xerox machine.” ~ Steven Wright

“The government says only 33 percent of Americans have returned their census forms. How do they know that?” ~ Colin Quinn

“Eleven women have now come forward to accuse Donald Trump of inappropriately touching or kissing them as recently as 2005. Said Trump, “I would never do that. And anyone who says I would… Is me, on tape, on a bus, with Billy Bush.” ~ Seth Meyers

Facebook post from “World’s Greatest Freelancer” Michael Folino

(Not a part of the pattern, but I believe, part of our future.)andrew-ng-on-ai-strategy