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  • Writer's pictureNeil Kilby

Black Bag Marketing


Oregon State University, 1967. A mysterious figure joins Professor Charles Goetzinger’s class, the ever-popular ‘Speech 113: Basic Persuasion’. The figure wears only a black bag, is bare-footed and sits perfectly silent. There is no interaction with any of the other students.

At first, the students are hostile. What’s going on? Who is this person? Do we need to take action and do something?


Next week, ‘Black Bag’ is there again. And again the following week. Hostility gives way to curiosity and the students are no longer afraid. They are intrigued.


After a few months pass, something remarkable happens. When another teacher began to disparage ‘Black Bag’, the students became enraged and leapt to ‘Black Bags’ defence. They were friends.


Robert Zajonc, the social Psychologist, would explain why in his study “Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure”, showing the more we are exposed to the same stimulus, the more we develop a positive attitude towards it.


It's why there is still a place for sophisticated mass marketing.

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