Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland talks behavioural economics at Falmouth University
07 February 2023
Advertising executive and behavioural economist, Rory Sutherland recently visited Falmouth University to deliver a TED-style talk on the intersection of advertising and behavioural economics.
Rory Sutherland is Vice Chairman of brand and advertising agency Ogilvy, as well as being an industry speaker and author, having written several books covering behavioural economics and the impact on advertising and advertisers.
Titled ‘Why you have to believe in magic’, the talk explored how ideas, products and brands can triumph in defiance of logic by using behavioural science. Rory shared insights and examples from his extensive industry experience, providing the audience with a unique perspective – everything from how TikTok started the craze for air fryers to how to make a Eurostar journey more enjoyable (hint: it’s with supermodels and Champagne).
The ideas discussed drove the audience to approach their marketing problems differently. Take Uber for example – they knew that one of the issues people have with taxis is waiting for them, but instead of promising to speed up waiting times they created an app that allowed users to track their ride in real time.
My main takeaway is that the human touch remains and always will be absolutely critical to connecting with people. The age of AI is never going to trump human touch and connection.
The talk was well-received by the students, staff (some of which had travelled across country to make it), and members of the public. In a vox pop taken after the event, one guest said: “I thought it was absolutely amazing. My main takeaway is that the human touch remains and always will be absolutely critical to connecting with people. The age of AI is never going to trump human touch and connection.”
As part of the visit, Creative Advertising students also got the chance to pitch their responses to a live brief from Rory. Rory was very impressed by the students' work and has put forward three winning ideas to his client.
Lucy Cokes, senior lecturer for Creative Advertising, said: "Rory Sutherland is a true thought leader in the advertising industry, and it was an honour to have him speak at our university."
Juliet Hinton-Smith, a student on MA Marketing and Digital Communications (Online), made the journey to Falmouth to attend the talk. She told us: "I really enjoyed coming to Rory Sutherland’s talk on campus and it got me thinking a lot about why we make the decisions we do, and how as marketers we can influence consumer behaviour. I work as a charity fundraiser and have always been interested in the reasons why people choose to give to charity, and since attending Rory’s talk, I’ve decided to pursue this as the topic for my MA final major project."