Adam Ferrier (Consumer Psychologist & Founder of Thinkerbell)

January 2021

In this episode, Stu is joined by Adam Ferrier, Founder & Chief Thinker at Thinkerbell, an agency that practices measured magic – bridging marketing science and hardcore creativity. Thinkerbell won AdNews' 2019  Creative Agency of the Year. Adam is also the author of two books: "The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behaviour" & "Stop Listening to the Customer: Try Hearing Your Brand Instead".

Adam shares how he was always interested in money and people which led him into the world of consumer psychology. His thesis was on what makes people 'cool' and spent time training in the clinical psychology model, but soon found that this alone didn't offer the most effective solutions.

Adam and Stu discuss what makes effective behaviour change campaigns from across sectors; from the effort paradox in IKEA's furniture, to why weight loss control groups lose more weight than the experimental groups. They look at some of the public health campaigns that Adam has worked on in Australia: Man Up, a documentary on how men express themselves to broaden stereotypes; ABC Goes Mental As, a dedicated week of programming for Mental Health; Doing Nothing Does Harm, an online campaign giving people the option to stop sexist behaviour, which involved people in the campaign as well as mimicked the desired behaviour.

The pair look at what public health can learn from marketing and advertising – creating a category of cause, understanding the irrationality of people's choices and the influence of reality TV. To illustrate this Adam and Stu give examples of Milgram's experiments, asking why you bought the shoes you're wearing, and how picking up dog poo makes you feel when you do, or don't, own a dog. They both also recommend Rory Sutherland's book "Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense" as a starting point for anyone looking to understand and change behaviours. Adam also discusses the need to find a brand category, like the work of OMGyes which fills the niche of education around sexual pleasure.

Adam leaves us with what he is looking at and working on in behavioural science at the moment: s p a c e – where ideas meet influence and DOA – a social cause agency working with business, brands, government and movements to have a positive impact on the world.