Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom

In this podcast, I share my take on whether or not it's ethical to do research for advertising purposes to pregnant mothers and their babies in the womb.

This podcast is about the background information on the author Martin Lindstrom. This book describes how companies “brandwash” children at an early age. Companies use pregnant women for research on babies in the womb. Studies have shown that we determine our likes and preferences of brands and products by the age of 7, but Lindstrom believes it’s much earlier than that. It begins in the womb. In this podcast, I share my take on whether or not it’s ethical to do research for advertising purposes to pregnant mothers and their babies in the womb. It’s crazy to think that we are heavily influenced by what our mother does, see, hear or smell during her pregnancy. All of her decisions lead to our decisions in the future, and marketers and advertisers want to be the first to know.


  1. The idea of advertising to pregnant women, to reach the baby is crazy. While I feel like more research should be done before we can claim it as fact, it is clear that early childhood, even earlier than previously thought, is an essential time period for brands to make their first impressions on children/babies.

  2. I definitely agree with you that Lindstrom isn’t the best writer, but his research is incredibly interesting! I think it’s cool that you pointed out that we as consumers are influenced when we’re in the womb and the study of the babies that showed a preference for a TV jingle. As marketers, this incredibly useful, but I agree that it’s not very ethical to target consumers before they’re even born and their mothers at this stage in life.

  3. Wow. This was really interesting. I never once considered the power of brands to this magnitude. The idea of brandwash is accurate, but to impact a mother and baby at such a intimate time, seems a bit cruel. I definitely think that the brand decisions I make today are because of the brands I grew up comfortable with. I hope it is not because of a jingle I heard in utero. That said, this was very new to me and I’m glad you shared this example.

  4. I think Martin Lindstrom’s work is fascinating. However, I’m a little skeptical of his claim that most of our brand preferences are decided before we turn 7. At that age, most of the things that we will buy in our lifetime have not yet become relevant to us. I’m sure that children form some brand preferences at very young ages, but to say “most” or our preferences are decided by age 7 seems like an exaggeration. The idea of marketing to pregnant women is an interesting concept that I haven’t heard before, but it seems like only huge brands have the resources to invest in something like this.

  5. Martin Lindstrom proposes very similar ideas about advertising to children to David Helm and Neil Postman. The topic of advertising to children has always been a point of interest to me, because I’ve always felt that children aren’t developed mentally and emotionally enough to fully grasp what’s being said and shown to them. The idea of children having brand preferences under the age of 7 is so shocking, but it ultimately makes me wonder if children are choosing these preferences because they’re conscious about the brands, or because they just decided they liked this brand because they remember it.

  6. Martin Lindstrom’s work is definitely fascinating. I’ve always heard that playing classical music to your child in the womb will possibly “make them smarter”, but I never thought hearing any sounds/music actually makes a difference. I definitely want to look into this topic more to see what other professionals are saying about Lindstrom’s findings.

  7. Wow. This sounds like a really interesting read! I can’t believe the priming methods stores used to make mothers and babies have an affinity to them. Personally, I think it’s sort of unethical, but I would love to learn more about the methodology and results.

  8. This book sounds awesome… I love the psychological side of advertising, there is so much information that relates I don’t know why the advertising curriculum at Temple does not include psychology courses as mandatory. Iv’e heard of the ways people try to make their babies smarter especially when in the womb from only eating specific foods to the classical music playing it is pretty crazy stuff! I think the connection with how children grow up around advertising is interesting because I’m sure it shapes their mind especially with today’s kids glued to the television and their smart phone… brands should be extra careful to not act unethically when it comes to advertising towards children since in the end it’s the parents purchasing but then again that kid could be a really great persuader…

  9. To know that we are targeted with advertising in the womb is fascinating! Knowing how far marketers go to advertise to a younger audience – I wonder what ads my mom was served with while she was carrying me. This book seems pretty interesting I’m gonna check it out!

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