The concept of neuromarketing has electrified the media, and consumer neuroscientists are now in search of a longed-for and feared “buy button.” The location of said button appears to be somewhere in the limbic system of all places, a part of the brain whose mysterious reputation has been debunked by modern neurosciences. Serious consumer neuroscience has a problem less with purchase ethics than with marketing mystique. Traditional neuroscience, by contrast, takes a far more sobering approach to the investigation of brands and advertising communication, with its primary task being to evaluate the findings of cognitive neurosciences. One result of its work is the replacement of classic conditioning with Damasio’s “somatic markers” – a model that, when applied to advertising, shares little in common with the paradigm of the secret seducer.
Kai Fehse studied politics, economics, and the psychology of market and advertising. After completing a post-graduate program in cognitive neuroscience at Columbia University, he went on to write his dissertation, on neuroscience, at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. After working as a freelance writer and consultant for numerous advertising agencies (e.g. for Fehse & Partner, Springer & Jacoby, Media Markt Marketing, For Sale Group), he received a position as research fellow at the university’s Institute for Medical Psychology. He also directs the Institute for Cognition and Communication in Munich. He is the author of Neurokommunikation. Ein Modell zur Wirkweise von Werbung im Lichte neuester Erkenntnisse der Hirnforschung (2009).