Monday, 6 July 2009

It's the Amygdala Stupid

This Evian ad is doing the rounds on the blogs and I thought it was a good time to revisit the neurological influences that drive some advertising through the our response or compulsion oriented reptilian brain or the R Complex or basal ganglia if you wish.

While I think it's a sweet execution, isn't it just crypto neuro marketing? Or is it coincidental that this was one of the biggest spreadable media (viral) content successes of the internet? Here's an updated version.

I was having a brilliant lunch with Rob last week and I realised that just shooting the breeze with him is solid gold planning lessons that ordinairly he invoices interesting brands for. So if ever there is a good reason to get blogging and get involved in the conversation instead of just reading or lurking on blogs, here it is because I've gotten to know Rob and   pester him for lunch through blogging. Though  of course it's OK if you just like to observe.

Anyway I got talking about my experience on the success of a Coca-cola drink brand called Qoo across Asia some years back because I met the Japanese creatives at Hakuhodo in Tokyo who came up with the creative concept and discovered a secret. Qoo is an expression that the Japanese make when taking a cold drink on a hot day. The beverage was named Qoo and a brand cartoon character was developed to appeal to children.

I learned that, much like the dancing babies above, the Qoo character is largely  a neurological hook; particularly for children. The cartoon character was designed sketched and refined 'on-the-fly' in focus groups with bits of paper going back and forth between the illustrator and the kids and it was seen that using traits such as a big head, baby eyes and a small body appealed to children most and there was no doubt at all which character made the kids most excited. The winning design formula had an unmistakably positive response to say the least.

This is why the product used to fly off the shelves in Asian markets. Strategically it's an RTD (ready to drink) low juice, sugared soda with a few vitamins added for marketing to mothers at a rational level, and the Qoo character for children at an emotionally responsive level. It was quite a learning experience discovering the design gestation process and seeing how well it performed with commercials as short as 15 seconds in the China market. I wrote about one execution I worked on in Hong Kong and Shanghai over here.

Strictly speaking the amygdala is part of the paleomammalian complex but then we get into the R Complex as broad description for stuff that overrides reason and neocortical functions. This isn't a good place to get too deeply into Reptilian claims of neurological superiority undistracted by our higher functions such as love and humour that are viewed as a weakness and evolutionarily superfluous according to the available literature of the Draco Reptilians which is minuscule, elusively sourced and yet difficult to completely dismiss when factoring in Mesopotamian history threads with contemporary contactee reports. Either way it's a fun way to start poking around brain bits that would otherwise be completely forgettable.