Don’t eat the marshmallow

There is a certain theory which isn’t terribly media centric, but it is something that should really be considered the current media scape. This theory is the theory of delayed gratification.

The video in this link (courtesy of TED):, features a man called Joachim de Posada analysing an experiment where kids were put into a room and given a marshmallow. They were told that if they didn’t eat the marshmallow for 15 minutes, they would be met at the end of this waiting marathon by a second marshmallow. Yaaaaay! The kids adopt various coping mechanisms to avoid eating the marshmallow. Some stare at it. Some walk around the room. Some play with their clothes. By the end of the session, unfortunately, 2/3 kids had consumed the marshmallow – some immediately, some 14.5 minutes down the line (devastating!)).


15 years later, they tracked down the kids from the focus group (now 18 / 19 years old) and 100% of the children who didn’t eat the marshmallow were successful – good grades, level temperaments, strong relationships with their teachers – crushing! This causes us to wonder if perhaps the key to success lies in the understanding of delayed gratification…?

Now, how does this relate to media?

Today, there is a lot of focus on the bottom line. We can’t find a way of justifying a campaign to client if it doesn’t translate directly into GC’s. And as a result, we plan, we buy, we inject huge amounts of money into traditional bid brand advertising to get people buying. And then come next campaign, we repeat the process.

However, there are some brands out there who are producing things outside the linear advertising landscape which don’t convert into immediate footfall, but instead focus on things like changing brand perception, that building brand relationships and increasing social channel subscriptions – all of which can be leveraged later in a massive way. See below for two examples:

Ultimately, there is so much research out there that proves one thing – people buy from brands they trust; brands they like; brands with whom they have a relationship. It’s perhaps a realm where there is a much slower burn but the social sphere isn’t only a place where people can be social with each other, it is a place where businesses can get social with their consumers. Never in history have corporations had an opportunity for this kind of access!

But are we using it enough? Are we taking advantage? Or are we planning, buying, booking and making clever taglines; pushing things through the production line to reach the traditional bottom line. Perhaps the key is to push the bottom line further into the future and make it even bigger as a result.

Delayed Gratification.












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