FEATURE12 November 2015

Mexican waves and Kahneman bingo: highlights from IIeX BMF

Features Innovations

The BMF is a new spin-off of the highly successful Insight Innovation Exchanges (IIeX), and all share the same energy and appetite for innovation.


This lively and oh-so-rare chance to hear some of the best behavioural marketers and insight professionals show how they use their skills was a genuinely motivating rallying call for the industry.

Too many smart, funny, and (extraordinarily for a research conference) human ideas were shared for me to cover them all, but here’s a couple which I think give a good flavour of the event.

The day began with a spirited and compelling push from Joan Lewis to move faster in our use and evangelising of behavioural economics. Joan struck a chord with many in the room by warning against the indiscriminate use of ‘neuro-’ when we’re just observing natural behaviour – it doesn’t add clarity and muddies the waters for the real neuroscience that can be done.

What resonated with me was her call for us to go and create new inspirations and expectations with our behavioural expertise. I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly what we should be doing, not just because that’s a great way to have business impact, but because as an industry, negativity and insular soul-searching is sadly our natural tendency. We will achieve so much more when we look outwards and use the positivity we can bring to the table to change businesses.

Leigh Caldwel lof the Irrational Agency, with Lizzi Seear from InterContinental Hotels Group, not only painted a fascinating picture of measuring the intangible that we often struggle to do , but also kept the Twitterati amused with his new game, ‘Kahneman Bingo’. Whenever a classic quote gets wheeled out (or you see that picture of Homer Simpson’s brain X-ray…) you can mark it off your card. I’m not sure who’s in charge of these things, but the reaction online suggests that this surely must become the official game of research conferences from now on.

The Herdmeister himself, Mark Earls, closed out the day with an hour where he had hundreds of researchers dancing with each other, doing the Mexican wave, and awkwardly giggling through the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally. I won’t misrepresent the social learning map (or indeed his charming cartography anecdotes) of his latest book Copy, Copy, Copy, but the general consensus was it’s going to be another must-read – so I’d suggest doing just that.

Perhaps it was just a piece of gentle (and welcome) flattery from Mark, but his closing remarks lifted the room, and are a fitting way to conclude this post. He reminded the audience that those of us exploring and integrating behavioural science into what we’re doing are among the most advanced actual practitioners of it in the world. More than others like universities or governments, we’re changing an industry, and with that changing how businesses operate at a fundamental level.

If that wasn’t an inspiring, positive, and motivating message to send everyone off into an autumnal New York evening, then I just don’t know what is.

Charlie Richards is an account director at Tonic Insight

1 Comment

7 years ago

I am thrilled that Kahnemann Bingo has met a broader new audience; it has been an enjoyable part of #mrx events for me since IIex Amsterdam in 2014 with a small but dedicated group of Twitterati a bit fed up with the singular focus of most BE discussions. We have since extended it to Ariely. Any other terms we could add? @tomewing @keenasmustard @infomagpie @jonpuleston

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