For many years, the question of which of the actors playing Her Majesty’s agent makes the best image of a brilliant and brave Bond has been fiercely discussed. Habitués of Internet forums, respectable journalists, women at café tables and men in gyms — they have all tried to solve the puzzle. Could it be the roguish Sean Connery, the witty Roger Moore, or maybe the Hamlet-like Timothy Dalton? How about the irresistibly handsome Pierce Brosnan or the wild Daniel Craig with his iron look?
Study of Declarations, Reaction Times & Brain Waves.
We divided the test into three parts. Firstly, we asked respondents to indicate in a paper-and-pencil questionnaire, which Bond was the best. In the second part of the experiment, we compared fans’ conscious vs. subconscious reactions. To capture the latter we used a Reaction Time (RT) or BIONAVITM method. In the third part of the experiment, we tested our guest’s brains directly by analyzing their cortex electrical activity, i.e. brainwaves or EEG. The EEG allows the analysis of the brain activity (to detect) detecting the nature of our reactions — are they positive (approach tendency) or negative (withdrawal tendency).
And the winner is…
In the first part of the study the votes of our guests always showed that Pierce Brosnan was the best Bond. But the subconsciously driven RT discovered, that when we ask:
- Who is the greatest womanizer? Pierce Brosnan
- Who is greatest sense of humor? Roger Moore
- Who is the most handsome? Daniel Craig
It is all matter of perspective.
Managers rarely conduct a thorough analysis of programs accompanying the TV ads they create. They usually invest media money intuitively in those shows they believe their target audiences watch. Yet, the program’s environment can strengthen a positive perception of a spot or have a discouraging effect, even if it is viewed by the same audience or during the same prime-time slot. For example, an ad aired during a commercial break of an action movie (“Munich” by Steven Spielberg) was ignored by the audience’s brain (n=44) while the same spot played during the romantic comedy (“Love Actually” by Richard Curtis) was perceived more attentively. The difference in this case was related to the amygdala (a little almond shaped structure located in subcortical part of the brain) which became active during violent scenes in “Munich” and then, automatically, during a scene with erotic innuendos in the ad. Meanwhile, the promoted product was neglected by the viewers’ prefrontal cortex, which is activated when a stimulus is emotionally engaging or relevant. However, during the comedy, viewers’ brains “perceived” the product scenes as very relevant. Traditional qualitative tests confirmed that all the brand influence indices were increased during the comedy, not the action movie.
In another R&D study we tested a product from the FMCG category.
The ad was placed during three different television programs. We used a total of nine TV program environments: three talk shows, three TV series and three police docudramas all selected from the top three TV channels, again at the same prime time of airing. We measured neuro reactions of 396 respondents as well as their behavioral choices, a shelf test in which subjects were asked to choose between the advertised and the competitor’s brand. Out of the people who watched the ad accompanied by the TV shows 27% chose the advertised product, during the TV series – 37% and during the police docudramas – 41%. It was in full concordance with neuro reactions, the highest prefrontal activation occurred during docudramas, the lowest in talk shows. It seems that for this type of product, a bloody and violent environment and not the comedy (as many might guess) seemed optimal. In turn the product category described earlier — was strengthened by sweet romance programming. As one can see there are no good or bad programming contexts, it all depends on the nature of a product category. Routine neuro tests would help analyze basic categories of TV programs and plot them on a matrix of basic product categories. This pioneering effort would enable advertisers to get the most out of a single GRP, neuro GRP we’d call it. Before competitors start to copy, and before there is an extra media charge for it.
Academic research in psychology has shown that the correlation between a self-reported attitude and actual behavior is around 0.3. Although we say we will start a diet or exercise, we often fail to actually do so. Even though we claim that we like a product, when faced with a choice, we reach for the competing brand. We say that an advertisement is interesting and that we feel encouraged to buy the product, and yet we fail to do so when shopping, and conversely – we might claim an ad is boring or irritating, yet, we buy the advertised product anyway.
Academic neuroscientific research has established that every conscious act is preceded by a neurophysiological reaction. That is why neuro tests predict behavior better than verbal reports. To make sure people really intend to do something, it is wise to check their neuro reactions. Verbal declarations of respondents must be backed-up with neuro. If not, they remain nothing else but wishful thinking.
The fact that neuro predicts purchase behavior better than verbal declarations is well illustrated by a test we have conducted together with one of the leading global FMCG companies. For that we invited 66 housewives, who were shown an ad, and subsequently asked to share their impressions about the product. The commercial, following a simple “problem-solution” pattern, showed the story of a woman who sees that her kitchen got dirty, and, without much hesitation, decides to clean it with the advertised item. Using it, she quickly tackles the problem, whereas regular products prove to be ineffective. In the participants’ opinion the film was uninteresting, boring, predictable and did not stand out from the commercial clutter. In other words, it did not ignite any positive emotions. While watching the ad, women were connected to EEG and GSR tools to record their biological reactions. Thanks to neuro, it turned out that the key scenes (showing the product and the slogan) were perceived by their brains to be most relevant and engaging (the prefrontal cortex, responsible for all the key decisions, showed unusually high activity), and the commercial’s ending evoked an outright explosion of positive emotions. After the experiment, we discovered that we had been given for testing, one of the most effective commercials sales-wise in the company’s history.
This example shows that considering only verbalized information is insufficient because the answer often lies in the subconscious. This is the reason why consumers do not always choose the advertised product, even if they initially say it is interesting, compelling and encourages them to make a purchase. Another observation is that for product categories driven by negative motivation (“I buy it because I have to”) – the tested product belonged to that category – an ad does not necessarily have to score highly on liking and recall measures, yet, can still be very effective.