UK studio helps Honda tap car buyers' emotions


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(Above: Neuroscience enabled Honda to test subconscious responses to a virtual showroom. Image source: Saddington Baynes)


For its biggest ever european content programme, Honda has developed a virtual showroom using neuroscience expertise from Clerkenwell-based creative production studio Saddington Baynes.  

With three out of four car-buyers taking at least one digital action during the purchasing process, a virtual showroom has become an important channel for automotive brands to draw in prospects and market the features of particular models. 

But how can car-makers be confident that a simulated showroom is generating a positive and effective response to a brand and its cars? This is particularly important to know as it has become more widely understood that consumers' emotional, implicit responses to marketing often play an important role in their final decision-making. 

In Honda's case, the look and feel of its virtual showroom was created using neuroscience techniques which measured consumers' implicit reactions to visual elements - everything from colour palette and camera angles to motion blur - at a subsconscious, emotional level.

These reactions were analysed using the Engagement Insights® service, created by Saddington Baynes in partnership with neuromarketing consultancy, NeuroStrata, to steer development of the studio's creative work.  

Coventional user group testing can be challenged on the grounds that users can be affected by peer pressure, may not be conscious of why they react as they do to certain images, or because the act of asking viewers about their response can itself distort this response.

By contrast, the Engagement Insights® service gauges users' subconscious reactions to variations in imagery and can be used to shape decisions over different aesthetic options in the creative process. The approach employs an online gamified test developed by academics to measure users' reactions and produce metrics around the visual impact, engagement and intent to purchase produced by campaigns. 

For the Honda campaign, the studio worked with Digitas LBi, the digital agency, and produced a series of videos fusing live action and CGI, taking consumers on a tour of Honda's virtual showroom and a digital test drive of its cars. The work encompassed over 300 shots, 17 languages and 900 outputs.

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(Above: Honda's virtual test drive. Image source: Saddington Baynes).

The neuroscience testing uncovered varied responses to different versions of the showroom with some of the production team's least favourite designs generating the best emotional responses from consumers. Users in the UK and Germany also reacted to designs in very different ways.

The studio believes the same approach could be used to test and improve the design of other spaces, such as offices, galleries or homes.

Chris Christodoulou, CEO of Saddington Baynes, which employs about 50 people and numbers Olay, O2, Google and Strongbow among its clients, said: "Engagement Insights is part of our production DNA. We can implement it at speed, helping clients make informed decisions about the potential effectiveness and perception of image content before it launches, enabling us to fine-tune the execution of creative ideas."

The company is a leading creative production studio that has produced premium images for advertising agencies and brand clients for a quarter of a century.

Christodoulou joined the company in 1994 as its first digital retoucher and has spearheaded innovations such as its neuromarketing service.

The studio's award-winning work includes 'Shipwreck in a Bottle' produced for SB Labs and 'Strongbow Cloudy Apple Comes Alive' (both winners at the Creativity International Awards) and Asics - Gel Runs Deep (Le Book Connection Award winner).

James Digby-Jones, the company ECD, describes neuroscience as a "creative coach" reinforcing rather than replacing established creative techniques, adding: "We're still wielding our creative skillset, using the same tools, rules and gut instinct that have made the past 25 years a success, but we're reinforcing it with an extra level of implicit audience understanding."


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