Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Strange Amazon Ads


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I don't usually pay too much attention to ads on the Internet, but a recent Amazon ad caught my eye and has caused me some confusion. I've been studying a bit on facial expression, facial action (based off of the work of Dr. Paul Ekman), microexpressions, and lie detection and there are a number of emotions that have been found to be universal. Before I go too much further, look at the following ad and interpret the emotion shown in the top picture.



Before we go into what facial expression this is, let's start by asking ourselves "If I had been propositioned for a cheap date, what emotion would I feel?" In most circumstances, I'd probably say that either an anger or disgust expression (or perhaps a blend of the two) would be shown, but neither of those are present. Thinking through the universal emotions (surprise, fear, anger, disgust, happiness, and sadness), the 2 emotions that hit the bottom of the list of the ones that I'd expect to see are happiness and fear (because someone asked on a cheap date could simply say no).

The expression has most of the signs of a fear expression, though the brow is less raised (AU1 and AU2) than you might expect (you would typically expect to see horizontal wrinkles on the forehead that may or may not stretch all of the way across).

The takeaway here is that the marketers at Amazon need to figure out their own emotions, since the ones that they are showing in their ads make no sense...

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