Neuroeconomics and Miller Lite

First off, it’s comforting to know that neuroscientists realize the critical importance of monitoring “microeconomic” decision making, since the “macroeconomic” managerial decision making skills of Wall Street seems to be outrageously incompetent (surely, you know).

Second off, what is neuroeconomics? I asked the same question upon reading a mini-review of this novel area of research in TREE, and then utilizing my google scholar searching aptitude to find a more thorough review titled: Neuroeconomics–From neural systems to economic behaviour in Brain Research Bulletin (yes, the author is British). In a nutshell, neuroeconomics localizes brain regions responsible for WIMSV BJ (note: this is a modified acronym coined by the author), which are critical processes that mediate decision making (that is the purpose of the study of economics, right?). To alleviate shock value, WIMSV BJ represents

W-working memory

I- integration

M-memory recall

S- semantic analysis (what a word means in the language of a particular society)

V-vocalization (i.e in British, vocalisation)

B-binding (assemblance of neuronal connections to assist with parameters of memory)


Moreover, each of these cognitive processes are mediated within distinct regions of the brain and the latency of activation of these cognitive processes varies (i.e. working memory is activated within 100 ms of a decision-making task, in contrary to judgment, which has a latency of 1200 ms).

What does this mean? If you recall the 1 second Miller Lite commercial aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday (unless you were talking to someone, dipping a nacho chip into watered- down salsa, or opening another beer, then you didn’t because of the subliminal properties of the commercial), it means that the commercial’s duration was sufficient in length for you to 1) memorize “High Life,” and 2) retrieve from your memory bank that High Life is associated with Miller, but not sufficient in length for you to make any judgment about the persuasive and aesthetic properties of the commercial (unless you perpetually replayed the commercial from a YouTube page).

In other words, sound and rational decisions require activation of all of WIMSV BJ. That means, it would be invalid for a naive consumer (i.e. someone who has never heard of Miller) to make a sound and rational economic decision about purchasing a Miller beer because cortical activation of judgment would be difficult given the duration of the commercial. I’m sorry Miller, but if you were targeting a demographic comparable to that of Burger King’s current campaign (administering a taste test between Whopper vs. Big Mac to a naive consumer), you wasted 356,366, 456 million dollars. You should had given it to the CEO of AIG to help pay his bail instead (or to go on another vacation).


2 Responses

  1. “I’m sorry Miller, but if you were targeting a demographic comparable to that of Burger King’s current campaign”

    I’d argue, and I think Miller would agree, that their demographic isn’t naive consumers, since Miller and it’s High Life ‘product’ are already well established in the minds of most Americans. So, nueroscientifically speaking, their commercials weren’t a waste, particularly because the uniqueness of their 1 sec ads created at least some buzz: both on the couch (individual viewers likely had discussions about it, which I can only support from my own experience in doing so) and, apparently, in the blogosphere (as evidenced by this post).

    • Perhaps I should have bolded the word IF

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