Neuromarketing – A Tale of Two Campaigns

Image 1   

A consumer in today’s digital era is exposed to over 4000 advertisements on a daily basis – the fact that most of us are not aware of this number is so high, goes on to show the ineffectiveness of the majority of the advertisements. Big Brands allocate immense resources on producing powerful slogans, brilliant ad copies, and high-quality products- so that the advertisements are successful.  Despite immaculate planning, not all campaigns are successful – some even have the misfortune of being politically incorrect and end up going viral for all the wrong reasons.

These contradictions are not easily explained by fundamental marketing principles and have made successful campaigns a ‘hit or miss’ enigma amongst marketers. Neuromarketing now attempts to rationalize all these contradictions and decipher the formula for a successful advertising campaign.

What does Neuromarketing bring to the table?

Neuromarketing involves the direct application of brain scanning, imaging, and other brain activity measurement technology to quantify a consumer’s response to the advertisement. In certain cases, the respondents perceive consciously these techniques, but even then, the insights gathered are much more valuable and unattainable by using traditional market research methods.

The focus of Neuromarketing is two – pronged: to identify how the consumers’ minds react on seeing an advertisement and how those reactions impact the decision-making process. This translates to gathering actionable insights into the functional mind of the consumers and leveraging the insights for more effective marketing strategies. Let’s look at two diverse examples of big brands and how Neuromarketing can be regarded as the differentiating factor.

Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize…We did not intend to make light of any serious issue.”

This was Pepsi’s official statement after having to pull out the now infamous 2017 Pepsi Ad featuring Kendall Jenner. The advertisement titled ‘Live for Now moments anthem’ cost anywhere between $2-5 million and had a media buy of over $100 million- the end result being it was pulled down within 24 hours of public outcry and both Pepsi and influencer Kendell Jenner faced heavy backlash for the advertisement.

How did such a costly misadventure happen to a well-planned and laid out advertising campaign?

A traditional analysis of the debacle leaves way too much room for error – as they are based on assumptions and personal biases of the individuals. A neuro-based analysis was done for this ad and it consisted of biometric engagement- heart rate, galvanic skin response

Image 2

The findings are as follows:

  1. The first insight that is clearly visible is that a significant portion of the advertisement falls below neutral engagement – represented by the purple line. The viewers’ disengagement with those parts led to loss of information given out in the ad.

Image 3

2. The downward trend of engagement in the first minute of the ad shows that it is not         able to capture the attention of the viewer as the ad progresses – mainly due to the           context and dissociation of creative content with the target group.

Image 4

3. The same is verified by the eye tracking data which shows scattered heat maps –               viewers did not have a central focal point during the first minute of the ad.


4. Another interesting insight was that the viewers had positive engagement of the ad          overall and the characters were mostly likeable with the exception of Kendall Jenner –    who was roped in cause of her influence over today’s generation.


5. Things take a negative turn after minute one, as evident from the data above. Heat            maps showed that the moment Kendall Jenner gave the Pepsi can to the police –              viewers were fixated on that, but with negative reactions owing mainly to the feeling        of trivializing and exploiting the ‘Black Lives Matters’ movement.

These in-depth insights are clearly dug out by neuromarketing techniques and the inclusion of neuromarketing techniques during the strategy formulation phase will not only help brands evade controversies but also result in more effective campaigns overall.

Let’s take a look at the brand using neuromarketing – an advertisement campaign based on neuromarketing insights

Hyundai, the 3rd largest automotive group globally is a shining example of business success – starting as a Korean brand to a global giant. Hyundai has always been a proponent of cutting-edge technologies and methodologies. Hyundai was also one of the early adopters of Neuromarketing at a time when most companies were still debating the validity of neuromarketing and some even calling it a pseudo-science.

Hyundai undertook a neuro-based study consisting of 30 men and women to test a sporty silver model back in 2011. These 15 men and 15 women were tasked to stare carefully at the various parts of the test car- including the bumper, the tires, and the windshield. Hyundai used EEG Techniques by putting electrode-studded caps on the heads of the viewers and captured their brain activity while they viewed at the car for a long period of an hour.  Their brain activity shed light on the preferences that most likely impact the purchasing decisions.

“We want to know what consumers think about a car before we start manufacturing thousands of them,”

-Dean Macko, Manager, Brand strategy at Hyundai Motor America

This neuromarketing based study was conducted to both find the consumer preferences impacting the decision-making process and also to evaluate Hyundai’s design philosophy. Hyundai was one of the early adopters of what we all know as the Fluidic Sculpture-which is heavily influenced by nature and its success is clearly evident from other companies adopting similar design philosophies.

Based on the feedback of such neuromarketing studies, Hyundai tweaked the exterior to align with consumer preferences. The important insights were from the subconscious aspect of the subjects’ minds which hugely impact their thinking process and in turn, their decision making.

Traditional market research techniques cannot dive into the human subconscious. These two case studies clearly show the quantifiable and objective nature of neuromarketing – a much-needed aspect for advertisers in today’s hyper-competitive digital world.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

Create your website at
Get started
%d bloggers like this: