This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here

OPINION19 September 2011

Brain scans and beer ads

Delegates at Esomar Congress saw neuromarketing in action today, as Heineken’s Henk Eising showed how the brewer combined traditional qual research with neuroscience and biometric techniques to hone its TV ads.

“Our hypothesis was that only a multidimensional approach combining qualitative research with neuroscience can give us a full picture of the consumer’s emotional experience,” he said, with biometrics providing the moment-by-moment response, and qual research helping to interpret this.

The ad in question centred on a group of men in a bar, all using their mobile phones instead of talking – the punchline is that they’re all sending picture messages to each other.

Electroencephalography (EEG), skin conductivity measurement and eye-tracking were used to measure how relevant viewers felt the ad was to them, how excited they were by it, and what areas of the screen they looked at while the ad played.

The results suggested that the ad wasn’t working as well as Heineken had hoped. By using these results as the basis for qual discussions, the company was able to understand why.

The idea of people using their phones in a bar scored well for relevancy because people recognised the situation, but the qual research revealed that this wasn’t seen as a good thing. Eye-tracking showed that the bottle labels needed to be more visible to keep people’s attention, and the punchline at the end was a damp squib because by that point most viewers had already guessed where it was going. The negative feelings at the end of the ad didn’t so much reflect viewers’ feelings about the brand as they reflected disappointment in the ad itself, Heineken concluded.

Understandably, the ad never aired – but at least Heineken has a clearer idea of how to get it right next time. The technique is designed to be used at an early stage in the creative process (storyboards can be used as well as filmed ads), so that it can be deployed before big investments are made.

When asked whether neuromarketing could have been applied to testing Heineken’s new corporate identity, which has just been unveiled, Eising said: “If I would have had the choice then probably I would have done it this way.”

And how did creatives react to the results? “We didn’t present it yet to them.”

That sounds like an interesting conversation to look forward to.