Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Devils (and angels) in the detail

I commented in a recent post that neuroscience seems to be the flavour of the year when it comes to understanding that age old question: "How does advertising work?"

While I am still incredibly cautious about anything that involves "subjects" lying in a brain scanner, unable to move more than a few mm, I was interested to see that Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, have released their first neuroscience study.

And the topline is - when it comes to creativity in advertising, the little things can make all the difference. It seems that very small details - that often cannot be recalled consciously - can have a significant effect on how people process and store an ad in the brain, and thus its eventual effectiveness. Little details, such as facial expressions, and the timing of music.

Now, I am not sure that we need a neuroscience study to tell us this. Good creatives, directors and producers know these things intuitively. But it sure as anything adds weight to the argument that quantitative pre-tests, particularly those employing storyboards, may not be testing what we want to test. I'm all for creative development research to look at the potential of an idea but I don't like the idea of people's preference for the facial expression of one orange-faced drawing of a Hausfrau over another determining the creative direction of the brand.

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