Home » Scott Galloway: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google Manipulate Our Emotions (Transcript)

Scott Galloway: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google Manipulate Our Emotions (Transcript)


Scott Galloway

Here is the full transcript of professor of marketing Scott Galloway’s TED Talk: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google Manipulate Our Emotions….

Scott Galloway – Founder, L2; Professor of Marketing, NYU

So, this is the first and the last slide each of my 6,400 students over the last 15 years has seen. I do not believe you can build a multibillion-dollar organization unless you are clear on which instinct or organ you are targeting.

Our species has a need for a superbeing. Our competitive advantage as a species is our brain. Our brain is robust enough to ask these really difficult questions, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t have the processing power to answer them, which creates a need for a superbeing that we can pray to and look to for answers.

What is prayer? Sending a query into the universe, and hopefully there’s some sort of divine intervention — we don’t need to understand what’s going on — from an all-knowing, all-seeing superbeing that gives us authority that this is the right answer: “Will my kid be all right?” You have your planet of stuff, you have your planet of work, you have your planet of friends.

If you have kids, you know that once something comes off the rails with your kids, everything melts, in your universe to the Sun that is your kids “Will my kid be all right?” “Symptoms and treatment of croup” in the Google query box. One in six queries presented to Google have never been asked before in the history of mankind. What priest, teacher, rabbi, scholar, mentor, boss has so much credibility that one in six questions posed to that person have never been asked before? Google is our modern man’s God.

Imagine your face and your name above everything you’ve put into that box, and you’re going to realize you trust Google more than any entity in your history.

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Let’s move further down the torso. One of the other wonderful things about our species is we not only need to be loved, but we need to love others. Children with poor nutrition but a lot of affection have better outcomes than children with good nutrition and poor affection. However, the best signal that you might make it to be part of the number-one fastest growing demographic in the world — centenarians, people who live to triple digits — there are three signals. In reverse order: your genetics — not as important as you’d like to think, so you can continue to treat your body like shit and think, “Oh, Uncle Joe lived to 95, the die have been cast.” It’s less important than you think.

Number two is lifestyle. Don’t smoke, don’t be obese, and prescreen — get rid of about two-thirds of early cancers and cardiovascular disease. The number one indicator or signal that you’ll make it to triple digits: How many people do you love? Caretaking is the security camera — we call the low-resolution security camera in our brain — deciding whether or not you are adding value. Facebook taps into our instinctive need not only to be loved, but to love others, mostly through pictures that create empathy, catalyze and reinforce our relationships.

Let’s continue our journey down the torso. Amazon is our consumptive gut. The instinct of more is hardwired into us. The penalty for too little is starvation and malnutrition. Open your cupboards, open your closets, you have 10 to 100x times what you need. Why? Because the penalty for too little is much greater than the penalty for too much. So “more for less” is a business strategy that never goes out of style. It’s the strategy of China, it’s the strategy of Walmart, and now it’s the strategy of the most successful company in the world, Amazon. You get more for less into your gut; digest, send it to your muscular and skeletal system of consumption.

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Moving further, once we know we will survive, the basic instinct, we move to the second most powerful instinct, and that is to spread and select the strongest, smartest and fastest seed to the four corners of the earth, or pick the best seed. This is not a timepiece. I haven’t wound it in five years. It’s my vain attempt to say to people, “If you mate with me, your children are more likely to survive than if you mate with someone wearing a Swatch watch.”

The key to business is tapping into the irrational organs: “Irrational” is Harvard Business School’s and New York Business School’s term for fat profit margins and shareholder value. “High-caloric paste for your children” No? You love your choosy mom. Why choosy moms choose Jif: you love your kids more. The greatest algorithm for shareholder creation from World War II to the advent of Google was taking an average product and appealing to people’s hearts. You’re a better a mom, a better person, a better patriot if you buy this average soap versus this average soap.

Now, the number one algorithm for shareholder value isn’t technology. Look at the Forbes 400. Take out inherited wealth, take out finance. The number one source of wealth creation: appealing to your reproductive organs. The Lauders; the number one wealthiest man in Europe, LVMH. Numbers two and three: H&M and Inditex. You want to target the most irrational organs for shareholder value. As a result, these four companies — Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google — have disarticulated who we are: God, love, consumption, sex. The proportion in your approach to those things is who you are, and they have reassembled who we are in the form of for-profit companies.

At the end of the Great Recession, the market capitalization of these companies was equivalent to the GDP of Niger. Now it is equivalent to the GDP of India, having blown past Russia and Canada in ’13 and ’14. There are only five nations that have a GDP greater than the combined market capitalization of these four firms. Something is happening, though.

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The conversation just a year ago was, which CEO was more Jesus-like? Who was running for president? Now the worm has turned. Everything they’re doing is bothering us. We’re worried they’re tax avoiders. Walmart, since the Great Recession, has paid $64 billion in corporate income tax; Amazon has paid $14 billion.

How do we pay our firefighters, our soldiers and our social workers if the most successful companies in the world don’t pay their fair share? Pretty easy. That means the less successful companies have to pay more than their fair share. Alexa, is this a good thing? This is despite that fact — This is despite the fact that Amazon has added the entire market capitalization of Walmart to its market cap in the last 19 months. Whose fault is it? It’s our fault. We’re electing regulators who don’t have the backbone to actually go after these companies.

Facebook lies to EU regulators and says, “It would be impossible for us to share the data between our core platform and our proposed acquisition of WhatsApp. Approve the merger.” They approve the merger and then — spoiler alert! — they figure it out. And the EU says, “I feel lied to. We’re fining you $120 billion,” about 6% of the acquisition price of $19 billion.

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