The Role of Decision-Making in Understanding Context

As we delve into the larger context surrounding our field of study and its associated professions, we’ll adopt a decision-making lens. How do current trends, concerns, and research within our academic discipline influence the choices we make regarding our academic and professional development or personal interests? In simpler terms, what knowledge do we need about our field to make informed decisions?

A Marketing Mishap: The Affinity Shampoo Commercial

To grasp the relationship between context and decision-making, let’s examine a marketing campaign that stumbled due to a lack of consideration for context’s impact on consumer behavior. Take a moment to watch the Affinity Shampoo Commercial (please note that the video quality is subpar, but it conveys the advertisers’ approach).


At first glance, the commercial seems innocuous—after all, who wouldn’t desire luscious hair? However, despite the shampoo’s potential benefits, women refrained from purchasing it. Why? Because they didn’t want to associate themselves with being “older.” The marketing campaign overlooked a critical cultural context: American attitudes toward aging during the 1980s. The consequences were significant. To read an analysis of how cultural context sank Affinity shampoo, click here.

As you can see from the Affinity shampoo example, a series of decisions went into the making of the commercial: how the product would be described in the voiceover, the gender of the voiceover artist, the gender of the model, the age of the model, what she would say, what the product packaging would look like, the product tagline on the screen, and so on. When you view the commercial, you can see that every one of these decisions made sense–except they ignored the larger context of America’s youth culture.

Please read the article: “Riding Happy into the Golden Years,” to learn more about the fall out of Affinity shampoo and the consequences of misreading an audience.

Additional horrible and/or unfortunate ads whose marketing teams misread context:

Strategic Decision-Making: It’s Not Just for Marketing Executives & CEOs

The Center for Simplified Strategic Planning (CSSP)2 defines strategic thinking in a way that is directly relevant to making decisions about academic and professional development:

Strategic thinking is a process that defines the manner in which people think about, assess, view, and create the future for themselves and others. Strategic thinking is an extremely effective and valuable tool. One can apply strategic thinking to arrive at decisions that can be related to your work or personal life. Strategic thinking involves developing an entire set of critical skills. What are those critical skills? (“Strategic Thinking,” n.d.)

Visit the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning to learn about the eleven critical skills for strategic thinking.


Strategic thinking: 11 critical thinking skills. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2021, from Center for Simplified Strategic Planning website: https://www.cssp.com/CD0808b/ CriticalStrategicThinkingSkills/


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