As we were watching the Super Bowl with snacks and friends, others were having a – well let’s just say more involved experience.
A scientist at UCLA, Marco Iacoboni, has apparently conducted brain scans of men and women watching Super Bowl advertising (click here to get the whole story). Thanks to Steve Hall at Adrants for catching this one, by the way.
Since learning of this last week and reading about it we have been puzzling over it. The craft of marketing as it stands today is somewhat of a social science. Many of its disciplines don’t yield themselves to precise measurement in the way that finance does. On the other hand, we are always trying to measure what we do and have the belief that better research can improve what we do.
The idea of brain scanning is appealing because it might seem to answer the longstanding issue of whether advertising is effective. Measuring the brain to see which centers fire when they are watching advertising could indeed give us a truer picture of how people actually react to advertising.
However, we are some ways from being convinced that we would want to make any financial decisions based on this technique at the moment. We may know, for instance, that the FedEx commercial fires up centers associated with fear and asocial reactions. But does that mean that people will not remember the commercial when they are afraid that a package they are sending might not arrive there in time? If women seem to react (their ‘mirror neutron’ fires) when they saw the Bud Office ad in spite of the seeming disconnect, will they actually buy Budweiser? Will the theoretical empathy result in brand purchase?
This Advertising Blog has nobody with the science background to evaluate these claims. But we do find them interesting. If anyone can start matching immediate brain response to long-term buying behavior in statistically significant numbers of consumers then marketing as we know it will change dramatically.