The Sweet Effect of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
How Instagram’s “mind-reading” advert algorithm has trapped me into buying sweets.
I will never forget the first time I tried a pick’n’mix sweet - a strawberry to be exact. My mum and I were shopping in Woolworths, and my mum had bought herself a bag of sweets and with me being a child - asked if I could try one. She passed me a deep red and green-topped jelly strawberry. Delicious. I can test them on my tongue as we speak.
My love for sweets has only grown since that day. Come March 2020, the United Kingdom went into lockdown due to the current pandemic. Some time surrounding the beginning of April, I decided to go into my local supermarket to buy some pick’n’mix. To my shock horror, the image below is what I saw;
EMPTY. The whole thing was EMPTY! They didn't even leave me any crumbs! For a sweet lover like me, this is one of the most disgusting sights I’ve seen in my life. Obviously, the reason why it’s empty is that people can easily touch the sweets and pass on the virus. How was I going to get my hands on some sweets now?
Users of Instagram claim that the ads can read our minds. Of course, this sounds impossible - how can a mobile device read our minds and display what we are thinking in a social media platform advertisement? Nonetheless, it does happen and it actually has a name - the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (BM Phenomenon), also known as Frequency Bias.
Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon; when something we recently learned of, paid close attention to, or experienced, starts popping up everywhere when, in fact, it was there the whole time - we just didn't realize it before - The Odyssey Online
The BM Phenomenon has not been scientifically proved but it is said that within marketing, the more aware you are of something this increases the likelihood you are to want it. That’s why certain ads keep showing up in our social media feeds. Perhaps the reason I went to the supermarket in the first place to purchase sweets was down to the fact I had been subconsciously viewing ads the whole time?
What was displayed to me on Instagram was a "random" ad - on the same tragic day I went to the supermarket - of a small business called Sinful Sweets in a town called Gloucestershire, selling pick’n’mix sweets. Hallelujah! Whether this ad was down to the BM phenomenon or not, I was over the moon. Nearly immediately, I placed an order for a whole 1kg of pick’n’mix sweets which was only £10. The idea was for me to share but I ended up eating 500 grams in a day and my mum and sister only got 250 grams each - oh well!
All it took was for me to click on Sinful Sweet’s Instagram account and the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon kept striking for the next few weeks and still is to this day. The second ad I saw a few weeks later was for another small business called Candy Jacks. They were selling a slightly different variety of sweets with the option to buy a smaller quantity of 500 grams, they came in jars instead of bags at only £8 per jar.
Side note: At the time we ordered, Sinful Sweets only did orders of 1kg or more. You can now order 400 gram jars.
As you can see from the image above, sweet teeth run in my family. One 500g jar of sweets for each family member - mine was demolished within a day and I have absolutely no regrets (until it was time to put on my denim jeans).
Come October 2020, Halloween is upon us and at this point, Instagram knows me inside and out. Thanks to the BM Phenomenon or the mind-reading alien who works for Instagram inside my phone, decided to present me yet another advert of a third sweet company called Sugar Rush Sweeties. This time, they had a cool wheel where you can pick 7 different sweets for £10.
So, I ordered from there too. Unfortunately, none of the children who knocked at my door on Halloween would get any of these sweets - all for me!
If there is some kind of mind-reading alien living within my phone or whether I'm just a victim of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, I am eternally grateful as you have helped me invest in small businesses and given me the pleasure of finding beautiful pick'n'mix. However, you might be responsible for my high blood pressure as none of this sugar is good for me!
Note: Prices may have changed since I ordered my sweets and I am unsure whether these companies deliver outside the U.K.