WARC Brainy Bar 3

brainy-barIt was standing room only at the third Brainy Bar event.

Run by Walnut in conjunction with WARC, the idea is for clients, vendors and agencies involved neuroscience (the “brainy” part) to get together in Creston’s bar (the “bar” part) to share case studies and best practice.

It’s an admirable shared vision: people from different fields working together to create more effective communications.

There was lots of good stuff, but my main take-outs from the evening were:

1) Ads that evoke an emotional response are more effective

Dr. Cristina De Balanzo from Walnut introduced the evening. I was too busy drinking my G&T to take many notes but did biro down that Emotional campaigns yield better long term results, as Binet & Field proved in their IPA meta-analysis in 2015.

2) Work with natural human tendencies to ensure your ads are memorable

Heather Andrew from Neuro-Insight explored techniques to create effective TV advertising, based on work from a range of clients including ThinkBox. Many of the studies involve getting people watching TV ads whilst wearing EEG headsets and measuring emotional engagement and long term memory encoding. Granular feedback of what works within a 30 second TV ad is really useful when creating future executions:

  • Great ads should not only to evoke emotion but build long term memories. The latter part is vital if you want to influence future behaviour – not just create great entertainment.
  • Great brands develop associations in your brain over time. She used the “brand room analogy” – your brain has “rooms” – brands you know well are “completely furnished”; brands you know less well are “sparsely furnished”. The aim is to build associations (furnishings) then trigger these at relevant times (switch the light on).
  • Triggers can be quite subtle – shapes, colours, smells, music can then trigger these associations and “turn the light in the room on”
  • Andrew focussed on how her research had revealed that subtlety is a surprisingly powerful tool:
    • Showcasing rather then overt selling means people are more open to your messages;
    • There is a human tendency to respond to stories, puzzles, people. Make your brand part of one to encourage long term memory encoding. The example was the Diet Coke Break campaigns which bring together a similar cast of characters and situations;
    • Human interaction always encourages a reaction in any ad: correlating with better recall. For example peak point for long term memory encoding was the kiss in the John Lewis “growing older” execution.
  • A great technique: picking elements proven to correlate with long-term memory encoding from pre-tested TV ads and using these “flashbulb” images to lead outdoor campaigns Increasing effectiveness based on real data, not intuition.

3) Use the neuro toolkit to test, learn and optimise – just like you do with any other method

Thom Noble (NeuroStrata) gave a detailed overview of how he triangulates different methods in the neuro toolkit to add value for clients. He combines measures of standout (aka salience – where the eye is drawn to when you look at an image) and emotion (aka implicit response – a timed measure of the strength of associations you have when exposed to a product/brand) to evaluate comms.

He talked us through a programme of research with CGI design agency, Saddington Baynes establishing the parameters of good car advertising, establishing “what good looks like” for static and CGI car ads. Using a series of controlled tests – he investigated parameters like car colour, trim level, car facing left/right, the car being static or in action, with a driver or not etc.

Some evidence was surprising. For example, it is better to have the car image on the left, and text on the right as our brains process this combination more intuitively.

The outcome was database evidence relating to what works relating to car imagery. This moves beyond gut reactions, providing a new understanding of cause and effect. You can imagine how useful this is when creating a new campaign – reverse engineering rather than starting from scratch.

In summary

As a former comms agency researcher I was pleased to see how these methods were used to augment intuition: empowering creatives – not side-lining them. Thanks to all involved.

About Simon Shaw

I'm a Director at an insight consultancy. I'm interested in marketing, market research & consumer psychology. The views expressed are not necessarily those of my employer.
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