French Ads Target Brain Response

The International Herald Tribune reports in On Advertising: Better ads with MRIs that a new ad campaign for a directory assistance service is based in part on brain science. The French campaign comes on the heels of a British campaign that saw the upstart 118-218 service gain more share than its entrenched rival, British Telecom. The article describes the British campaign,

How did 118-118 do it, and how does neuromarketing play into it? While the company’s ad agencies did not run functional MRIs on consumers, they did employ ideas gleaned from such studies.

“It’s not easy getting into people’s minds,” said Chris Moss, European chairman of the Infonxx unit that runs 118-118, 118-218 and a similar service in Italy. “People never like to learn new numbers, but you can train them to do so if you personalize the numbers. People always remember a person before they remember a number.”

To make sure that consumers associated its numbers with faces, WCRS ensured that its runner behaved in an attention-grabbing – some might say annoying – manner. In the TV spots, the runners pranced around in a variety of places, escorting an aging actor bearing the 192 number into retirement.”

The British campaign was so successful that the characters became pop culture icons, with people dressing up in similar costumes for parties. The French campaign is different, but incorporates similar elements to its cross-channel predecessor. The article concludes by asking the perennial neuromarketing question, answered by Gemma Calvert, co-founder and managing director of Neurosense, a marketing firm in Oxford, England:

Are all of these mind games fair play? Or is neuromarketing an insidious way for advertisers to manipulate consumers into buying things they don’t need?

Calvert said neuromarketing can aid consumers by ensuring that marketers understand what they really want.

“Because so much money is being lost in marketing, people are being called to account,” she said. “This is a way to provide some of that accountability.”

This story shows that not all neuromarketing projects need to employ multi-million dollar hardware and costly imaging work; as marketers better understand neuroscience, they will be able to use basic brain research-based principles to design their ads just as the successful British campaign did.

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Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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