“Ugh, why do kids always have to scream in shops!?… Oooh! I could really do with a second pair of these…”

A new side of creative marketing has come to light and it’s what all the buzz is about. In the past few years this new idea, using science, has taken flight; in businesses, on the internet, throughout science and psychology. Even though this idea still needs a lot of refinement and substance, it boils down to:

The study of the effects a variety of stimuli can have on the brain and how to utilise this information to better optimise a company’s marketing scheme: Neuromarketing.

In other words, neuromarketing uses neuroscience to enhance marketing campaigns.

But is neuromarketing really new?

Officially, the first published study on neuromarketing was in 2003/2004 by Read Montague, testing Pepsi and Coke (spoiler: people prefer Pepsi’s flavour but Coke’s brand).

By 2005, the term neuromarketing was added to the Collins dictionary and continued to fascinate the world despite some voices bringing into question the ethics of neuromarketing (decrying invasion of privacy).

Some are of the opinion that neuromarketing is no different from propaganda. Conditioning, manipulation and constant bombarding on the subconscious, and now also on our conscious. Wanting to persuade a large number of people and being willing to pull every little string to succeed is as old as civilisation. Could it get you fired from a marketing agency? Definitely not!

Does neuromarketing really work? Or is it science fiction?

First of all, neuroscience plays a major role in this new application of creative marketing. Using very simple terminology/diction right now, brain-based tools such as eye-tracking, EEG (electroencephalogram), or fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) are used to conduct studies about the consumers’ brain waves, reactions, emotions, etc. when in contact with a variety of stimuli, or in your company’s case, the product you’re looking to launch. You can then translate this data into detailed info about your target group. 

Not only will you know how to modify certain things about your product to achieve better results, but you will also know what concepts, emotions and even colours to use in creative neuromarketing to create a more appealing product.

Tip: a well-rounded overall resource is Neuromarketing in Action: How to Talk and Sell to the Brain.

I’m reminded of the movie Transcendence when Johnny Depp’s soul was a surge of data (via the internet), and he was able to read his wife Evelyn’s bodily and emotional responses. And how violated she felt when she said: “Please don’t x-ray my ovaries, it’s a huge invasion of privacy.”

Beyond the ethics, for those marketers among you, there are a number of companies such as Myndplay, Forbes Consulting and True Impact Marketing who offer their services. If you are willing to invest a couple of suitcases of money in order to reach targets by incorporating science into your marketing, then this would probably be your game.

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What does the future have in store for the application of neuromarketing?

How many of you think the future is now? I’m willing to bet a lot of people would agree with me that ever since technology has switched gears into a new speed of advancement, we are in an age of constant transition and increasing speed. What does that mean for creative marketers? With so many new developments and breakthroughs, why not incorporate neuroscience into creative marketing? A quote about neuromarketing for you:

“Most critical to the success of the field of neuromarketing is the necessary generation of empiricist-driven links between bio-measures and behaviours. As these links become clearer, our understanding of unconscious emotional arousal and valence will be able to predict behavioural outcomes more precisely and reliably than ever before. The advancements in information processing, data capture and scientific theory have created the perfect storm to advance the fields of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience beyond what was once thought possible.” – Kimberly Clark, Merchant Mechanics

Examples of companies getting creative with neuromarketing

Microsoft and IBM create neuromarketing tools

microsoft neuromarketing

According to neuromarketing research, creative marketing, and B2B solutions, buyers prefer educating themselves about various potential vendors by visiting their websites. But effective web content that would convince these potential buyers can be difficult to understand. So some companies have used eye tracking and EEG measures to analyse the brain’s response to the various content, aesthetics and web design combinations.

An example of using this creative marketing data is Microsoft, a company that uses eye-tracking techniques to learn client tendencies to further engage them, for instance, Carrefour can use the technology to improve product displays. Another well-known example is IBM Watson, a system that interprets data to expose patterns. It is trained to sense and predict customer preferences, thus providing important insights as to what customers tend to value. 

Budweiser tickles the feelings bone

A beer company knows better than your best friend how to draw out your emotions: with a 60-second story about a puppy and friendship. Humans are emotional; first, we buy because of the way we feel and then (misleadingly) justify the reason with logic. Who doesn’t love a golden lab puppy? A positive emotion equals a positive response, whether it’s subconscious or completely conscious.

Apple designs gadgets they know you’ll love

You probably know at least one Apple fanatic who just can’t stop talking about how amazing Steve Jobs (still) and how fantastic the new iPhone is going to be years in advance of its release. And part of that is because Apple has really done their work into designing products that make their customers’ brains release all sorts of nice neurotransmitters when they test them out.

That might mean the delight when you touch a tablet and it does exactly what you’re hoping it will, or the way the smooth curves of your new iPhone fit into your hand.

Volvo knows what you want before you do

The reason that car is so aesthetic, with each line a perfect curve, perfect shape, the perfect interior, perfect EVERYTHING, is because they knew what you liked before even you! Volvo does countless experiments before launching a new design of a family of cars, just to see how users relate to different aspects emotionally as well as logically. It’s the perfect ‘bridging-the-gap’ in communication on a subconscious level.

How you wish you could use this in your relationship right now…

PayPal redoes its ads

PayPal was launching a new ad campaign, and they were trying to figure out which would be the most relevant points for their consumers. They tested out a bunch of ideas, including ones that promised safety and security while others emphasised speed and convenience. Can you guess which one they chose?

It was the speed and convenience one, even though you might think people would be reassured by hearing about how safe their money would be with PayPal. Based on the study, they created brand-new commercials that told customers exactly what they wanted to hear.

Porsche does neuromarketing, too!

Another example of integrating neuroscience findings directly into the ad is Porsche. In this revealing video, we can see how the brain reacts while racing in a Porsche compared to flying a fighter jet. The neuromarketing is two-fold: they present facts, and they show you images of a Porsche with a fighter jet. Really, they could have done the same with a donkey cart.

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The car industry loves neuroscience

Then there’s Lexus. They take on a different approach to demonstrate the user experience. It’s a little more of a creative marketing stunt than neuroscience but shows the link between the user’s heart rate (adrenaline) and the driving experience.

Frito-Lay’s redesign

lays neuromarketing

When Frito-Lay decided they wanted to redesign their potato chip bags, they employed neuromarketing techniques. Customers got pieces of information about a product’s packaging one by one (like colour, images and text size). Their reactions were categorised as positive, negative or neutral, and they were also interviewed afterwards. Combining the effects of the reactions and the interview, Frito-Lay got to work on a new bag.

Their findings? Shiny bags with pictures of chips were a definite no, but a matte bag with a picture of a potato worked well. That’s exactly what they ended up going with for their new potato chip bag design.

Facebook gets inside your brain


Is it really any surprise that Facebook joined the neuromarketing bandwagon, too? They work with neuromarketing firms in the U.S. to help them figure out…well, just about anything. They have metrics that determine how frequently a page should post, how to plan out an ad campaign, how to take advantage of trends…there are all sorts of things they’ve studied.

Check out the “Industry Research” section of their Insights page to learn all about just how much Facebook already knows about you. They may have already guessed you’d be interested in neuromarketing anyway!

The champions of neuromarketing: Coca-Cola

neuromarketing coca cola

I promised I’d tell you about how Coca-Cola reigns supreme.

Coca-Cola not only uses neuromarketing but has its OWN in-house neuroscience lab! Here, they test their ads to see which to use or which parts had the most impact. The video below gives you a real behind-the-scenes view and also explains how Coca-Cola managed to rank third as Superbowl’s favourite creative ad.

If you’re interested in attending or speaking about neuromarketing and find yourself in London in 2017 you can sign up for the annual International Neuromarketing World Forum.

Alternatively, if you would like to dig a little deeper into this new-found creative marketing science of neuromarketing, head over to Coursera and sign-up for a free six-week introductory course on Consumer Neuroscience & Neuromarketing.


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Jessica freelances Corporate Communications Writing for the Printsome Blog. She goes above and beyond to ensure that we are talking and engaging with customers in just the right way. She is also English Copywriter at eDreams ODIGEO.


  1. A nice article!
    Where could I see the Coca-Cola behind-the-scenes video from their neuromarketing lab? It seems not to be attached.

    • Harald Meyer-Delius Reply

      Hi Ivan,

      I’m sorry but I don’t know what happened to the video. We might have lost it while we were performing updates on the blog. I tried googling it but I couldn’t find it. I’m really sorry!

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