Items filtered by date: November 2018 - Brainsigns

From the heart to the wallet: a Neuromarketing Case Study with UNHCR

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A Neuromarketing study aimed to measure the effectiveness of UNHCR TV commercial.

Who's UNHCR?

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.

It works in 127 countries around the world and deals with over 60 million people. 

Research description

On 18 and 19 October 2017, BrainSigns run in Rome and Milan a neuromarketing research carried out in open client mode. 

The testing was focused on the new 60 seconds UNHCR charity TV commercial that aimed to promote the UNHCR's testamentary legacies.

In particular the objectives of this Neuromarketing study were the following:

  • Provide a general assessment of the instinctive perception of the ADv
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the ADv
  • Suggest interventions in order to improve the instinctive perception of the ADv

Client's Problem

The client requested the testing of the “ADv UNHCR 60" because the ADv, after being aired, did not generate the expected number of requests for information about testamentary legacy.

UNHCR TV Commercial in test

Sample and Methodology

36 people, 18 men and 18 women, aged between 25 and 54 years, were recorded by the use of multiple Neuromarketing technologies, while they were watching a movie composed of a documentary and an advertising break of several commercials, including the UNHCR commercial.

In particular, the instinctive perception of the tester subjects was evaluated by the use of the following technologies:

  • An EEG technology (electroencephalography) in order to measure the cognitive reponse in term of interest and cognitive effort.
  • A device for measuring the heart rate and the galvanic skin response, that are related to the emotional response.
  • An Eye-tracker in order to detect the distribution of the visual attention of the participants.

Finally, at the end of the experimental session, each subject was involved in a short interview, where the recalled memories and the level pleasantness associated to specific target elements was further esplored by the researchers.

Main Results

BrainSigns, identified two main insights:

  • 1) The emotional response of the participants was almost always positive.
  • 2) The "Call to Action" didn't draw the participants' attention.

In the following sections, bot evidences will be described. 

1) The emotional response of the participants was almost always positive.

The Adv always generates positive emotions, with the exception of very few isolated moments, in which slightly negative emotions have been identified.

Nevertheless, being in front of a Charity AD, BrainSigns suggested to the client that an increase use of negative emotions could generate an increase of the AD effectiveness.

Emotional Index related to the UNHCR TV Commercial

unhcr emotion always positive

2) The "Call to Action" didn't draw the participants' attention.

unhcr call to action

Thanks to the eye tracking technique, BrainSigns found out that several issues related to the "Call to Action" as follows:

  • The attention generated by the Call to Action represents only the 6.6% of the total attention recorded during the entire duration of the Adv.
  • The Call to Action is hardly ever noticed except for the first two scenes.
  • During the Voiceover "To learn more, call 800.831.800", the attention of the participants is not directed on the Call to Action, but remains on the figure of the Grandmother.

Below, we report a video heat map showing the visual attention of all participants during the whole TV commercial. Areas coloured in red indicated higher visual attention, while areas coloured in green indicated lower visual attention. What about the "Call to Action"? Watch with your eyes...

Visual Attention - Eye Tracking / UNHCR TV Commercial 

Provided Solutions

1) Increase in negative emotions

Inclusion of more dramatic scenes related to the representation of refugees in order to generate more involvement.

2) Higher salience for the «Call to Action»

Use different creative solutions for call to action like:

  • Synchronized animation with the voiceover
  • Increase of the «Call to Action» size

Managerial implications

Several changes have been applied to the UNHCR Adv after the neuromarketing study.

  • They were surprised by results and became conscious of having a sort of self-pudor in showing the war and themselves in action. So they decided to be more brave and insert more explicit images and sounds about war and drama of the refugees .
  • They consider that the scene of 30 seconds in the classroom, at the beginning of the spot, could be cut in favour of some more seconds for the key last part of the ad
  • Last, but not least, they revised the position of the phone number, highlighted in sequence the single numbers, and gave more coordination between numbers appearing and voice over of them.

After such improvements have been performed by UNHCR, a new version of the Adv was aired.

Final release of the UNHCR TV Commercial 

UNHCR, after the campaing, saw an significant increase of:

+ 237% in sellable calls: people that actually subscribe for the testamentary legacy.

+ 553% in legacy calls:  legacy calls for getting more information about  the testamentary legacy

This case is an extraordinary example of how a neuromarketing applied to the advertising sector can generated tremendous increase in sales and contact requests.

We also recommend the reading of "Rivoluzionare uno spot televisivo grazie alle neuroscienze: il caso di BrainSigns e UNHCR Italia"  published by the Communication Agency OTTOSUNOVE about this interesting case study.

BrainSigns' case study about UNHCR campaign has been published in BrandNews, a marketing, media and communication magazine


NEURO-TASTE: the importance of olfaction in food & wine tasting

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Application of neuroscientific methods to the food science helps for a better understanding of how the smells influence consumers in their eating choices, and also allows a better investigation of the brain motivational processes towards the food: these findings could be used to improve the quality of the nutrition, making it more pleasant and healthy.

Such kind of studies have given birth to the term Neuro-tasting, which encompass the concepts of Neuro-gastronomy and Neuro-enology.

At the basis of these concepts there is flavour, whose related science is concerned with the sensory appreciation of food. What is very intriguing is that, from neuroscience point of view, flavour is not in the food: it is created by the brain, through multiple systems.

Flavour, is multisensory, since involves all the sensory systems of the head and throat: sensory pathways include touch, taste, olfaction, visual cortex.

Flavour is as well multi-motor, because it involves all the relevant motor systems – like the muscle systems of the tongue, jaw, and cheeks (which are critical for manipulating food and drink in the mouth), glands producing saliva; pharynx; lungs for inhalation and exhalation.

In the figure below, it is explained how the senses combine to create the flavour of food and drink: we see the colour of the latter with eyes, while olfaction receive smell (orthonasal and retronasal and each contributes differently), then we sense the mouthfeel of the food - our taste buds react to its constituents - and each sensation creates images in the brain.   


As we see from the figure, once these images have been created in our minds, they activate certain central brain systems in a raw, that are the reward mechanism, then the motor action and only later the decision of appreciation, which is pushed by the emotion thanks to a process of integration led by the insula.

Therefore, in the whole process of flavour creation in the brain, there are both cognitive and emotive mechanisms, led by the smell and taste altogether.

This has been demonstrated by a BrainSignsneurowine test, taking into account an EEG index, assumed as an indicator of approach or withdrawal (AW) motivation, (representing the cognitive activity in the brain) and an Emotional Index (EI), deriving from the matching of HR (Heart Rate) and GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) activities, that represents the emotional activity in the brain.

The experiment has provided the degustation of two types of Italian wines (Sangiovese and Morellino di Scansano), and the process has been divided in two phases as well: smell and tasting.

As shown in the graphs below, results of this pilot research showed a significant increase of the emotional values during the wine smelling phase, in comparison with the other two phases of tasting - with and without olfactory component - and a trend of major pleasantness (AW index) in correspondence of wine tasting phase, with the combination of taste with the olfactory component.   


Cattura 2



BrainSigns at Focus Live- "The machines that read us inside"

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BrainSigns' scientific director Fabio Babiloni, during his speech at Focus Live, talked about the fact that people often act in discordance with their rational mind.

Prof. Babiloni started by highlighting how the internal "conflicts", during our decision-making, are as old as the oldest testimonies we have in writing. In fact, we can find testimony of contradictory moods already in the Iliad and the Odyssey, when talking about the heroes’ characters.

To date, more or less 4 millenniums later (which are a blink of an eye from the evolutionary point of view), our brain, as an "hardware", has more or less remained similar to that of Ulysses and his fellows.

During the conference, by using a model of brain on a natural scale,  BrainSigns’ CSO also explained the structure of the subcortical area, responsible for several motor and decisional mechanism in our daily lives, and the relationships that this area has with the cerebral cortex.

Subsequently, Prof. Fabio Babiloni described why it is necessary to measure the cerebral and emotional activity of people during the purchasing processes and which are the "machines" that can do this. In fact, many of the subcortical structures that take decisions, "do not speak": namely they do not have access to the cortex that coordinates our speeches, and therefore cannot give "answers" to questions about the motivation of our choices. These machines are becoming less and less invasive and increasingly wearable.

focus live ok

Prof. Babiloni has described some applications of these non-invasive "readings" of brain activity during consumption stimuli, reporting for instance the cases of measurement of brain activity during the testing of the TIM logo or during the evaluation of commercial ads.

The conference, in front of a very attentive audience, ended by discussing how this "reading" of our mental states can improve the use of services, not only for consumption but also in the transport field, in the near future.



CERTAMENTE 2019- Inspiring Neuromarketing Day

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CERTAMENTE 2019, the first Italian Neuromarketing conference, addressed at the world of business and communication, in 2019 has come to the 4th edition.

CERTAMENTE is an event organized by BrainSigns, a spin-off of “Sapienza” University of Rome, leader in the neuromarketing techniques and their applications, together with the communication agency based in Turin, Ottosunove.

CERTAMENTE will take place on 14th of February, 2019 at the Unicredit Tower Hall in Milan: the event has a new One-Day formula with an agenda full of innovative contents.

The agenda includes two plenary sessions, three thematic sessions (Brand Power, Product Power, Retail Power) and a closing panel.

The event will provide the participation of experts in several fields: neuroscience, marketing and communication. Numerous companies will also be present.

The participants of the last edition of CERTAMENTE were very enthusiastic, the feedbacks collected were very positive.

Through a survey that we carried out immediately after the closure of CERTAMENTE 2018, it was possible to find that the majority of people found the contents interesting and useful, especially thanks to the interventions of managers, teachers and scholars of the field. In addition, the presentation of concrete case histories was much appreciated.

CERTAMENTE 2018 won the special prize for the best low budget event at the BEA, Best Event Awards, as well as the second prize in the Educational/Training category.

CERTAMENTE will therefore be a unique opportunity to better understand how to strengthen your business through Neuromarketing, an innovative discipline that is growing worldwide.

What are you waiting for to sign up?


BIG DATA TECH 2018 Data for human - Appointment in Milan on 25 October

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The 2018 edition of the Big Data Tech was in Milan on October 25 th. 

The event organized by Bnova, now in its fifth edition, is one of the most important events about the latest news in the field of Big Data and Data driven strategy.

In the agenda, you found included a speech by Prof. Fabio Babiloni, scientific director of BrainSigns, titled "Cognitive Neuroscience and Big Data: a possible marriage".

Big data, a huge amount of information now available in every company, is a crucial resource. Strategies based on information derived from Big data have a great impact. Big data, in fact, are capable, if well analyzed, to provide more information expected, with a great impact on business processes and on human behavior patterns.

The relationship big data and neuroscience, can therefore be increasingly useful for the interpretation of customer behavior and in-company processes. As we know, people have difficulty in accessing their inner states. In order to understand effectively the reasons behind the customer behaviour, it is not enough to measure the behaviour and hear opinions, but it is also necessary to take account of the most common emotional and cognitive processes involved. The connection between the science of big data and neuroscience represents a significant turning point in understanding why some behavioural phenomena happen and how they take place.

At the Big Data Tech event there was also space for the subject of “AI, Big Data and Man”: starting from the idea that a good, reliable and fluid collaboration between men and machine is fundamental. The future objective of the Industry 4.0 is that one to develop an effective synergy between man and machine, allowing man to focus on high-value tasks and leaving the machines to manage repetitive and supporting tasks.

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