The consumer has a mind as well as a stomach, 1972

  • Date: 1972
  • Publisher: WARC, and delivered at many events

This key piece started life as a presentation to Kraft Foods and was first aired in 1972. There were many later iterations, but a memorable version can be found on p.139 of “Behind the Scenes in Advertising Mark III”. Its publication coincided with Stephen King’s development of the T-Plan (or Target Plan) as part of the new JWT Account Planning Department. This approach recommended combining market research and consumer insights to develop more effective and creative advertising and Jeremy enabled it to be a potent influence on JWT’s creative output. What became JWT London standard practice was adopted in many other JWT offices around the world, and it is a fine example of how Stephen King and Jeremy thought and worked in parallel, arriving at similar conclusions through different routes.

The consumer has a mind as well as a stomach 

Being the creative director in an advertising agency means spending a great deal of time discussing and evaluating work done by others. Much of the development work you are shown seems wrong; either strategically wrong or executionally wrong. 

When it is strategically wrong, it is relatively easy to explain why you want it changed but when you feel the execution is at fault, the problem becomes a great deal harder. It never seemed satisfactory - or fair - simply to say, ‘This isn't good enough, start again.’ I always felt the need to try to explain why; to try to relate the specific rejection to a more general principle. ln this way, disappointments could at least be part of a learning process - and, besides, it was good for me to try to explain and justify my decision. 

The problem was, there were (and are) few sensible and well-articulated theories about how adverting works. There are some ‘rules’, some sets of beliefs about what is good or bad, but very little communications theory, however inadequate, on which to build and against which to test a particular instinct about a particular proposal. Again and again l found myself having to explain that saying something did not mean that you had communicated it; and almost as often, that not having said something didn't necessarily mean that you had not communicated it. 

The first time I put these thoughts together in public was in 1972 to a Kraft lnternational Management Conference in Switzerland. The first two editions of this book carried the presentation more or less exactly as I first gave it. Since then, I’ve made similar presentations on a great many occasions in the course of which I’ve dropped the almost totally irrelevant original introduction and added a few more examples and illustrations. That is the version printed here. It’s probably best known  as Stimulus & Response. I remain extremely grateful to Terry Hamaton for the illustrations. 

There seem to be curiously few books about the nature of communications that are of practical help to those working in advertising 

But those that do exist seem to be unanimous in believing the communications process to be composed of four distinct component parts. 

There’s a Sender: 

A Receiver: 


A Medium: 



And a Message: 



The man in the big boat says ‘Get out of my way!’ to the man in the little boat. The man in the little boat dutifully gets out of the way, and the communication has been successfully completed. It all seems very simple, doesn’t it? But let’s see if the same model can be applied to other forms of communication. 

Here’s another sender - an advertiser (or rather, an art director’s mental picture of an advertiser): 


He, too, has his receivers - his potential customers: 


Again, there’s a medium - in this case, television: