Modern Day Pavlovs

Remember our old friend Michael Schudson, who, when not calling C. Wright Mills’ magnum opus a “cliché” and lecturing journalists against adopting an “anti-commercial bias,” argues that advertising doesn’t work?  One wonders if Schudson read the informative story on the elaborate production of restaurant TV ads in yesterday’s New York Times, in which producers say, “What we’re trying to do is be the modern-day Pavlovs and ring your bell with these images.”

The piece conveys more powerful evidence that advertising does indeed work. If it didn’t, why would restaurant chains fund such intricate and expensive endeavors? Schudson would have you think they are fools wasting investors’ money to justify their own jobs. If you think corporate overseers would tolerate that for a second, I’ve got a deal on a bridge for you.

The truth?

Any restaurant chain that forswears TV ads is in serious trouble.

“If you come off television, when your sales dip, it takes a long time to get them back to where they were before stopped advertising,” says Michael Branigan, vice president for marketing at Sizzler. “There are a ton of studies that show this. You lose brain share of your customers, and it is expensive to get revenues up again. If I stopped advertising, Sizzler’s revenue would be down, minimally, 10 to 15 percent for the year.”

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