Creative Testing Using Facial Coding

Measuring Emotional Responses to Creative Executions

Project Objective:

A Fortune 200 company wanted a centralized brand value proposition to leverage for expansion. MDRG partnered with the client to conduct a multi-phase brand positioning study. Read about Phases I & II here.

MDRG’s client and partnering agency developed two creative executions in animatic format centered around the theme of “Simplicity”: “Simple Talent” and “Simple Tech.” MDRG’s task in Phase III was to measure emotional responses to the creative executions and identify the most effective one.

facial coding

Results and Recommendations:

“Simple Talent” received higher scores across metrics in the new service area.

However, the ads were received more evenly in the client’s legacy service area.
– “Simple Talent” fared better on rational metrics (respondents felt it was more relevant and believable), but was also found to be less engaging that “Simple Tech.”

Facial coding helped MDRG understand why.

– The legacy service area, which is mostly urbanized, began to have less positive emotional responses to the ad at the 8-second mark, the point at which rural imagery appears.
– The new service area, which is mostly rural, continued to have positive emotional responses through the duration of the ad.
– The more urbanized, established market did not shift back to positive emotional responses until the end of the ad, which switches away from the rual scenery to an emotional payoff featuring the commercial’s main character
simple talent

Strategic Considerations:

The final campaign ran in both Traditional and New Service Areas and needed to be effective in both markets.

Strategic Recommendations:

Considering the overwhelmingly more positive response for “Simple Talent” in the New Service Area, MDRG recommended “Simple Talent” be put into full production. However, there was some concern that “Simple Talent” was not as engaging as “Simple Tech” in the more urban Legacy Service Area. The results of the facial coding exercise uncovered that use of rural scenery in “Simple Talent” was less engaging to those in the urban Legacy Service Area and did not create a strong emotional response until the last ten seconds when it transitioned from rural scenery to the ad’s main character. Considering the final ad had to run both in the New and Legacy service areas, MDRG recommended that the full production of “Simple Talent” keep the rural scenery to appeal to the New Service Area, but that it should make a quicker transition to the main character at the end to appeal to both service areas.

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