Burt's Bees Gives Its Ad A Makeover

Not long ago, C&ENtral Science called out skincare and beauty product company Burt's Bees, pointing to an ad that seemed to equate IUPAC's scientific names for molecules with suspiciousness. So you can imagine my surprise when I chanced upon a new version of that ad earlier this week. Check out the old ad (left) and the new (right).
The new ad gets rid of the "uglier name" section that ticked me off in the first place. Now, I still contend that a product's name alone shouldn't warrant a demerit, but I know I'm up against some powerful psychological impulses. For instance, researchers at the University of Michigan recently found that when presented with a list of made-up food additives, people in their study perceived easy-to-pronounce names as familiar, and they tended to rate things with harder-to-pronounce names as riskier or more harmful. See here for a highlight of that study. So, although Burt's Bees still should have thought of something else to put in their "minus" column, I think this ad is an improvement over the last one. I wonder what motivated them to make as many changes as they did.

Author: Carmen Drahl

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  1. Maybe I’m a purist, but I insist on using the IUPAC name for every organic compound I use in daily life. Although that works just fine when I’m asking the waitress at Bob Evans for a little sodium chloride for my eggs, it takes me a very long time to ask for Slim Jims at 7-11.

  2. Given that Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox, I find this the height of irony anyways.


  1. Dangerous names? » blog.khymos.org - [...] [Article on risk perception was found via CEN blog] [...]
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