A recent experiment was conducted on the brain to see which Super Bowl ads appealed most to consumers. The results were shown on The Today Show on NBC following the game. The scientists likened the experiment to getting a telescope for the first time and how exciting it was to be able to see all of those stars.
The research was done at UCLA by scanning the brains of five men and five women between 18 and 34 years of age. They wore goggles while laying down inside what looks like an MRI machine but is really a “functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, fMRI.”
One of the doctors noted the area of the brain associated with fear and anxiety showed signs of activity during many of the ads. Just what we need: more fear and anxiety in our culture. Isn’t the Evening News and the popularity of American Idol enough?
Many of the most popular ads, according to the online polling site, adbowl.com, produced anxiety and fear in the experiment’s participants. Perhaps laughter is just one step removed from that feeling that the sky is going to fall any moment? That’s a stretch you say?
The Kevin Federline ad, for which he was forced to apologize because it seemed as though he was making fun of people who worked in fast food restaurants, also produced anxiety and fear (Don’t those two terms go together like a perfectly matched brother and sister? Meet my two babies, Fear and Anxiety).
But hey, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Coke and Doritos made for positive brain experiences. The scientists hope the data will become useful for all types of advertising, not just Super Bowl ads. They even offer the possibility that politicians might use the technology as well. It will likely be the best way to gauge just how mean those attack ads really are. They’ll be going for somewhere in between Kevin Federline and Willie Horton.
This, about the time we all start thinking that Big Brother is watching. He doesn’t care what we do with our time, only what we do with our money. We are the needle and the damage done, with our addiction to this odd behavior of needing and buying, all inspired by really great advertising.
Nonetheless, adbowl.com did tally up its most popular ads, brain scan or no brain scan, in the form of an online poll.
Blockbuster came out on top, strangely enough, with Mouse, but second, third, fourth and fifth are all beer commercials that consumers responded to. Could it be that all that fear and anxiety is really alluring underneath it all? Doritos came in at number 7.
Why all of this attention and concern about television commercials? Because the Super Bowl is the measure of an ad agency’s success. It is the Oscars of advertising. Commercials cost $85,000 per second for Super Bowl time. Every second counts. The amount of money spent is nowhere near the amount of money gained over the long haul by the goodwill built on sending out entertaining ads on one of the biggest TV days of the year.