The Doctor and the Dad

Author

If you know a thing or two about parenting, you’d agree it’s hard work! Unlike most of our clients here at Pulsar Advertising, many children cannot or do not communicate with us exactly what they need or how they feel. Andy Ankowski, Pulsar’s lead copywriter and content developer, can definitely relate. This is why he and his wife, Amber, came up with a creative, yet intriguing solution. Earlier this year, Andy and Amber released their first book: Think Like a Baby: 33 Simple Research Experiments You Can Do At Home To Understand Your Child’s Developing Mind. We interviewed Andy to gain some insight and helpful tips from their book:

1) What inspired you and your wife to write this book?

My wife Amber is a professor of developmental psychology. When she was getting her PhD at UCLA, she was studying a lot of stuff about psychology and one of the biggest things that researchers did to find out how kids think was perform experiments. You can ask older kids or adults what they’re thinking and how they feel, but not infants and toddlers. While studying, Amber learned about all these great experiments performed over decades that explained how our brains’ grow and develop from birth. Amber began performing her own experiments during her studies and came home telling me a lot about what she was learning. At the time we didn’t have any kids yet, but her sister did. So we started testing out the experiments on our niece. A great one you can find in our book is called The Cookie Experiment – It’s astounding. We tested it on our niece (who was around age 5 at the time) and you’d never guess happened. Here’s how it’s performed:

Sit in front of the child with some cookies.
Place one cookie directly in front of the child.
Place two cookies in front of yourself.
Ask the child who has more cookies. You’ll realize they’ll want an equal amount as you.
Pick up their single cookie and break into 2 pieces in front of them. Then ask them who has more.
More than likely they’ll be content and believe it’s the same amount.

There is a lot of amazing research out there, but majority is written technical/ for the academic world, not for normal people. We wanted people to have the ability to read and understand them quickly. This is where our book comes in.

2) Which methods in your book, if any, have you all experimented on your own children? Out of these, which was your favorite?

We’ve pretty much performed them all on our own kids by now (or either our nieces and nephews). My favorite would have to be the very first experiment in the book, called “Tiny Tunes.” This one can be done even before the baby is born. Within the third trimester of pregnancy, the baby’s sense of hearing is developed enough to hear outside of the womb. You can start reading your favorite book or playing your favorite song for the baby to hear. When Amber was pregnant, I sang the song “Mrs. Train” often. Amber was still pregnant past her due date, and we went to the doctor for a check-up. To kill the time, I decided to sing the song. The scroll of paper from the machine that read the baby’s heartbeat shot up once I sang the song, and my wife felt the baby kicking. We were freaked out as first. When the nurse came in, she said everything looked healthy, especially during the time the heart rate went up when I sang. Now, once born, when I start singing the song, our newborn goes crazy, enjoying the song and waving her arms and legs. It’s amazing how babies are so small and squishy, yet capable of recognition and memorization. It’s really cool because the experiments grow up with your kids. Our book has experiments to perform on children up to age 7.

3) With a background in advertising and insight on child developmental psychology, would you say there is a correlation between psychology and successful marketing/advertising?

Yeah, there has to be, right? What we’re doing in advertising is all in your head – it’s all perception. We are trying to figure out the best way to make our customers feel good about our clients’ brands. You’re trying to get people to think about your product in a new way or think about something they haven’t considered before. A lot of our clients are trying to enact social change – good for their health and the planet. To do that, we want to help people get out of their normal way of thinking. For example, if the only way someone believes they can get to work is using their car, it’s up to us to explain the other possibilities. A lot of it is emotional as well. In order to create affective advertising, you need to strike their emotions. In reality, what drives our decision-making is often our emotional response.

4) How have you applied the principals and methods from your book into your day-to-day advertising/marketing work?

Fortunately, most of the people I interact with at work don’t have an infant to 7-year-old mentality, so it’s a little bit different. One of the things that our book shows parents is that being flexible is very good when trying to parent kids. One day, kids seem like geniuses and you’ll feel like the best parent in the world; other days they’ll do something so mind-blowing that you’ll wonder how you’ll get through the day. Keep doing what you believe is right, and you’ll get through it. The fact that you’re reading the book shows you care and are putting in the effort. I think the same applies to our work in advertising. We realize that some days are tremendously successful, and other days seem like a complete failure. As long as you roll with it, you’ll realize it was worth it.

5) How would you compare the style of writing in the book to the style of writing you employ at Pulsar?

I think my work in advertising, and at Pulsar specifically, helped out a lot when writing this book. My job is to figure out the best way to take dense, complex information and make it into a clear, concise, easy to understand way for our clients and their customers. I had to do the same thing for this book. What I’ve done is simplify the experiments for normal people to understand and enjoy. The only difference is that in the book, there are definitely more fart jokes than I do at work.