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Emotional advertising can turn a category around


Emotional advertising can turn a category around


Key take out
Marketers are always looking to connect with consumers at an emotional level in their advertising. But this isn’t easy for a range of reasons…. not the least of which is measuring the TVC’s potential effectiveness. The more non-rational an advertisement becomes, the harder it is to test with some of the more common questions like – how persuasive, you found it, how much it told you about the brand, how easy was it to understand?
The Philips ‘FemBot’ campaign is a stunning example of a courageous marketing exercise – using the right blend of consumer insight & a highly emotional TV advertisement to arrest a market in decline. The sales results were reactivated very quickly & the product was highly successful – and yet the TVC said very little explicitly! Admap1 featured this campaign in November 2009 as a prime example of how creativity can move markets. With spectacular sales & a highly emotional advertisement, the big question was – How & why did the ad work to produce such  a result?

In 2007, the electric shaver market had reached crisis point for Philips in the UK. As a ‘last role of the dice’ effort to save the product, a highly emotional TVC was developed to try and turn their fortunes around. The ad didn’t communicate anything in a rational way – it was executed using pure imagery. Some would argue, with so much at stake, this style of advertising was a huge risk and profoundly hard to measure and predict success. The campaign was a huge success – literally reversing a dying category.

Philips, along with the DDB London team2 went on to feature the campaign in Admap, highlighting the merits of running a highly emotional advertising strategy – particularly in driving short term sales. Neuro Insight was commissioned to evaluate the TVC (as is often the case by marketers after a highly successful campaign) to unlock exactly what it was about the ad that worked. Rather than use research to ask “how well will this ad work?” neuro can be highly effective at answering “what was it about this ad that made it work so well?” Here’s what the neuro analysis uncovered about this emotionally-directed ad.

The results
These charts below were included in the original Admap article, and demonstrate the significance of the turnaround in product sales and market share.




The one remaining question?
Sure, this type of campaign is the stuff that legends are made of. The TV advertisement was the result of sound consumer insight as well as being high on creativity & emotional qualities. But, exactly how & why did the advertisement work to generate this market effect? What can we learn from this executional style for future marketing activity? This is the type of question that Neuro Insight is frequently asked. Neuroscience, applied with quality & rigour, can provide this missing link.

While a range of neuro metrics are measured (engagement, emotional intensity & attention), it’s the metric of long-term memory encoding (the ‘storage’ of memories & experiences) that is the most important measure of success. An advertisement must be ‘stored’ in long term memory if it is to have any effect in market. Importantly, the storage of memories doesn’t necessarily equate to the recall of memories or the ability to rationally explain what the advertisement was saying. This is precisely why emotional advertising is so difficult to measure and fine-tune with confidence.

The bottom-line for any creative / storytelling is to successfully encode branding into long-term memory. This is the single most important requirement and the point with the highest correlation to market-place performance. Other elements, such as message and call-to-action are critically important and must obviously achieve high levels of memory encoding (storage) as well.

Thinkbox3, the TV marketing body in the UK profiled this analysis as an example of how emotional advertising works. The point being, the more marketers invest in great creative the better the ROI will be from TV. This is absolutely the case, given that up to 80% of a campaign budget is the investment made in media.

This analysis below demonstrates some important points:
•    Advertising exposures are not encoded (stored) into memory with equal strength.
•    The art of storytelling and creativity have important highs and lows.
•    Engineering the vital elements (branding, message, website details) with creative ‘highs’ is critical.
•    These important elements (in the FemBot commercial) had very high memory encoding (0.70+).


The Key Learning:
The neuro metrics of memory encoding show why this commercial was successful – high levels of memory were achieved at the critical points of branding, key message & the url. The reason why memory was high at these specific points can be a combination of many factors – including (often subtle) trigger points, pace, timing & the critically important art of emotional storytelling. Caution: when highly creative advertising doesn’t align with branding & message, we have great entertainment and not great advertising. Fortunately, both can co-exist.

1 Admap 2009. How Philips used emotion to change perceptions of electric razors. Pages 23-25.
2 Les Binet – European director at DDB Matrix.
Sarah Carter – strategy director at DDB London.
Andreas Moellmann – strategy director for
Philips at DDB London.
Gary Raucher – head of integrated marketing communications at Philips Consumer Lifestyle.
3 Thinkbox: Creativity, media placement & the brain.

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