Tuesday, January 17, 2006

:: adgruntie :: Getting in your brain, again

+ Adweek has an interesting but very long article on neuroscience and advertising.Hhere's an excerpt:
Morris acknowledges that the use of MRI in marketing is in its infancy and will have to hurdle a number of obstacles. For one, test results of emotion are more complicated for agencies to interpret. "Emotions are difficult to understand, and it is not as easy as measuring recall," Morris says. "One group responds one way, and one group responds another way and it is important to understand why those groups react so differently. Often, advertisers and agencies react by saying this is too complicated. I think they are making a mistake because this is richer data, and it is highly predictive of behavior."

Those who believe that emotions guide reason and spark attention also agree that biological measurements are not enough to tap into how consumers really think. The emotional response task force also plans to analyze the methods designed to uncover what goes on inside a consumer's unconscious mind. Such a journey involves an understanding of symbolism and metaphors in the case of Zaltman's technique; an appreciation of cultural anthropology, which is the basis of work done by Sal Randazzo, a former agency account planner turned qualitative researcher and CEO of ConsumerWorks, a Toms River, N.J., market research firm; and knowledge of archetypes, the preferred tool of the controversial psychologist and marketing guru G. Clotaire Rapaille, known in Detroit circles as the "car doctor." Rapaille's archetype discovery process will not be studied by the task force, but advertiser Brown-Forman used his technique to redesign its logo for Jack Daniel's.

Harvard's Zaltman is big on convincing advertisers that the consumer is the key to "co-creating" stories that can then be used in ads. In a 2005 speech, he said, "It is essential to understand the meaning that is created as consumers use their existing ideas to make sense of advertising content." He asks open-ended questions that focus on feelings to uncover a consumer's deep metaphors. For example, the word "container" is considered a metaphor of something that protects. Parents want to protect their babies. Consider the imagery used in the Michelin tire ad in which a baby is seen standing inside a tire surrounded by stuffed animals. The tire conveys safety.
There's something interesting in all this. But I can't help but wonder, can science really tap into the connections to make it an "across the board" sort of thing? Plus the expense of using MRI machines to test a campaign seems a bit much too. Perhaps we'll be seeing a Renaissance, merging the art form of advertising with the science of nuerology, but there's something in my gut that makes me think that there are many many hurdles to overcome before this technique would be come commonplace in the world of advertising and marketing.

This is something that's been chatted about profusely during the last few years. I see researchers getting all excited about being able to get the data. But, it still seems that there is so much further to go in the development of this, not to mention the moral implications of using such techniques, it's highly possible we may never see it used, at least in our lifetimes.

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