Should NeuroMarketing be banned?

What do you think? Are you a critic or a fan?


〱 Back to NeuroMarketing The Science

NeuroMarketing is literally a look into how the brain makes decisions, what are the triggers that drive conversions, how do we get to a yes. So, in the hands of unethical or criminal marketers (think fake news), it has manipulative and unstoppable power.

So powerful is its use, that it has become a tool for savvy politicians –  in recent history, think Trump, think Brexit – both campaigns were power drivers to buyer (voter) emotion.  Both scenarios are casebook neuro campaigns that literally changed the world by changing the thoughts and actions of millions of people.


A neuro message speaks directly to the emotional centre of the brain and links closely to our belief systems. Neuro taps into these powerful feelings to predict and potentially even manipulate buyer behaviour.  And it is this manipulative power to drive sales conversions that has sparked the debate around ethics.  Harsher critics even suggest that NeuroMarketing should be banned, like the banning of subliminal advertising in 1958 after outraged cinema audiences panicked over the alleged subconscious influence on their thoughts and behaviours to buy Coke and popcorn*.

But the NEUROMARKETING GENIE IS OUT OF THE BOTTLE, and once a marketer knows neuro and sees the dramatic and measurable results, there’s no way back to traditional marketing –  hit-and-miss, costly, time consuming, hard to measure.

However, the ethical question remains, and in my Practical NeuroMarketing Workshops, I stress the importance for newbie NeuroMarketers to use these powerful techniques with great respect for their clients and customers, the ethical responsibility of NeuroMarketing resting solely with the brand.

So, what do you think? Like subliminal marketing, should NeuroMarketing be banned? Are you a critic or a fan?

*NOTE.  Marketing students might remember the classic case when market researcher James Vicary claimed that inserting the words “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coca-Cola” into a movie increased Coke sales by 18.1% and popcorn sales by a whopping  57.8%. Vicary claimed that the single frame messaging was long enough for it to register in the subconscious, but too short for the viewer to be conscious of it. These findings caused such a consumer panic and, although Vicary later said that it was a hoax, he did it to boost his failing market research company, the banning order stuck.

PS. Well, I wonder  what happened to his business after THAT!

If you’re not familiar with the selling power of NeuroMarketing, here’s a short YouTube video explaining how it works (6mins).

Colleen Backstrom

Colleen Backstrom is Director of NeuroMarketing, Kaleidoscope, a global leader in applied NeuroMarketing for Digital.  She specialises in creating B2B email and web campaigns and optimising Zoom/Teams selling by converting existing sales pitches to NeuroMarketing.

Stay updated on NeuroMarketing Events & Tips

Outsource your web and email marketing to us; we apply NeuroMarketing to your sales message to engage your client’s “buying” brain. And in an uncertain and emotional world - the perfect time and space in which to apply neuroscience - you now have the opportunity to make this year, your best year ever. 

Kaleidoscope respects your privacy, view our Privacy Policy here


“One small POSITIVE THOUGHT in the morning, can change the entire outcome of your day.”