how advertising can change your sense of taste

We all have our brands that we like and brands that we stay away from. It makes sense. We, as humans (and even as animals, because apparently they do this too) make a logical choice to go back where it felt good. That being said, if you buy something from a certain place or made by a certain brand, and you have positive experiences with it, then you’ll most likely go back to buying from the same brand again. That is called “brand loyalty“.

We all know this in a way or another. But what we don’t know is that this can be tweaked and used in such a way that it literally changes your senses, sight or in this case, taste.

Let me present to you the Pepsi Challenge.


Some 40 years ago, around 1970, Pepsi devised a marketing stunt. They came up with the plan of giving people Pepsi and Cola and asking them which one tasted better, without telling them which one is which. People chose Pepsi over Coca-Cola in an overwhelming number. However, the strange part is this: Coca-Cola continued to out-sell Pepsi, even to this day, to a high degree.

What went wrong?

Going to get that in a second.

The worst part of the test was, that when people were actually being shown what they were drinking, they instead chose Coca-Cola each and every time as being the winner of a better taste.

A similar thing can be found today with various products, one such product being a beer that sells in China as a “premium western beer” for around 44$, but the beer in question is actually Pabst Blue Ribbon, a rather cheap and low appreciated brand of beer.

The beer sells in China because the Chinese feel they are getting a premium product, with a golden label and all.

All advertising gurus and marketeers are well aware of this, and go to great lengths to promote their brand for this reason alone. The whole industry can be basically reduced to this. Brand loyalty to the point where you don’t even think about the quality anymore.

It works because the part of the brain that recognizes taste and sensations is different with the part of the brain that does the thinking and the categorising of things, and the first always overwhelms the second. It’s clear: we’re being run by our sensations, like we didn’t know that already, right?

MRI tests were conducted while the Pepsi Challenge was reproduced and the results were incontestable. Different parts of the brain fired up when the labels were shown, and completely different when the labels were hidden.

To our advantage, there’s a remedy: damage to the prefrontal cortex.

So if you still had doubts, yes, we can actually brainwash you into liking us.