Bozo the clown, a cheeky Cinzano and a virtual thunderstorm welcomed Campaign Undergrounders at Camden FEST, taking them back to childhood through stirring long-forgotten experiences.
The event – which turns the typical conference vibe on its head – explored the art and science of mastering memories. Together with human experience specialists Green Room Design, Campaign gathered experts to teach brands and advertisers how memory affects brand success – and how to leverage it.
Here are seven things worth remembering:
1. Emotions are effective
We remember emotional memories best says Cambridge University psychology lecturer Amy Milton: "When emotions are involved, we remember with more confidence and detail."
Milton explained that if someone tried to remember what they were doing four months ago they’re unlikely to know. But if they think back to September 11th 2001, a significant and moving moment in history, they are much more likely to remember; the emotional impact of that event stamps the memory.
But memories are not always accurate, added Milton: "We are all susceptible to making false recollections. The traditional view is that once a memory is made, it’s permanently stored like writing in a book or filling in a cabinet. But it’s more like typing into a word processor where you can save it – but you can edit it."
2. People buy because they feel like it, so make them feel something
Emotion drives purchase decisions, despite seeming rational says Mike Roberts, CCO at Green Room Design.
When creating a campaign, Green Room Design start with what emotion or feeling they are trying to drive from the target audience: "We use Plutchik’s wheel of emotions to work out what response we want to get – from anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, anger, disgust or sadness – and often we are trying to elicit a few of these things".
Roberts believes consumers don’t want to suffer information overloaded in the retail space – they zone out.
"They want to be stimulated. Driving emotional experiences, using congruent emotions, is important. We’re trying to create a key campaign emotion-memory that translates across all channels."
3. Consider all of the senses… even online
It’s important to understand the benefits of all of the senses and how they act together, explained Dr Catherine Jansson-Boyd, consumer psychologist.
Jansson-Boyd explained that smell is particularly linked to memory, followed closely behind by touch: "I would suggest using different senses together for maximum effect – but think carefully about how you combine sensory input."
She cited Andrex as a brand successfully using multiple senses.
"They create softness in all of their communications, whether it’s in-store or remotely. The marketing campaign features puppies that are soft and gentle looking. In store they wrap the product in a soft plastic so you feel the softness on the outside. It all creates a good overall feeling."
4. Memory works in snapshots, make sure consumers capture your brand and avoid conceptual closure
How many ads can you remember – but you can’t name the brand? That’s what Neuro-Insight’s CEO Heather Andrew asked Undergrounders to an agreeable response.
When people watch a 30-second ad, they only store snippets of information, said Andrew: "It’s important for brands to know which snippets are going to be remembered, to inform the creative".
Andrew suggested marketers weave their brand into the narrative: "If it’s associated with the way the story unfolds, it’s more likely to increase affinity."
She also revealed that conceptual closure – when the narrative comes to an end before the brand reveal – is the most common reason for brand attribution and urged advertisers to avoid it: "Our brains sense something is coming to the end, they take snapshots, bundle them together and file them away. Make sure there is nothing preceding the branding that suggest the story is resolved. Don’t put your brand after the resolution."
5. Use your brand history to create new memories
Birds Eye founded in 1923 has a rich brand history. A key part of this has been Captain Birds Eye, described as "our longest standing brand asset" by general marketing manager Becky Nascimento.
Nascimento and her team faced a big challenge as Birds Eye products were in decline and they battled a consumer barrier: lack of trust in the products. They wanted to revitalise consumer perceptions and looked to Captain Birds Eye.
They wanted to draw on this rich brand asset but make him fit for a modern audience, explained Nascimento: "We used neurotesting to identify the memory structures and work out what strong associations audiences had with the Captain. It helped us understand what elements were important to portray and which weren’t. We found that incorporating an audio jingle and showing our product close to the moment of consumption are key. But we also found that if the ad is dominated too much by the Captain, the consumers switch off."
Neurotesting helped the brand identify what should be kept in and what could be left out in the creative. They used this insight to create a new captain, drawing on the nostalgia but using a contemporary figure. The result? Nascimento revealed all of the equity measures they wanted to drive increased, as well as base sales.
6. If you’re a new, challenger brand – borrow brand nostalgia
That’s what MoneySuperMarket did, explained head of brand Liz Telford.
Their category spends around £120m on TV and MoneySuperMarket had been outspent over the past five years ago. This means they rely heavily on the creative to stand out.
"We wanted to drive fame and to find a smart way to resonate with our core, 35 plus audience. So we borrowed narratives from iconic characters and films. There is undoubtedly a trend for nostalgia in advertising, and we’ve had a to of fun with it – clashing together, music and characters in unexpected ways."
Telford showed the brand’s ‘He-Man and Skeletor Dancing’ ad, which recreated the final scene from Dirty Dancing. But was this effective?
MoneySuperMarket received a high positive social response, trending across three terms on the launch night, with up to 35,000 comments an hour, and countless mentions of childhood memories. They also achieved 25 million views in three days, earning the brand plenty of free media.
"People took this campaign to their hearts – it inspired them to created parodies, bake cakes and even get tattoos."
7. If something doesn’t repeat, it’s probably not important
Memories decay extremely fast. When looking at an ad ideally you’ll see it again after 10 seconds, explains Ed Cooke, co-founder at Memrise.
"When I go to a buy-a-fridge website you don’t have to show me the fridge every time I go on another website. But you can remind someone at the points they’re about to forget. That’s the ideal time to remind someone: the time when they’re just about to forget it.
By employing these techniques, you make use of the natural strength of the mind. We are overwhelmingly perceivers, narrative creatures – we like to connect objects and things through narrative. If something doesn’t repeat, it’s probably not important."
But repeating at the right time is crucial.
Campaign Underground… the snapshot
Here’s what the audience remembered at the end of the day:
"Familiarity breeds preference"
"Memory is unreliable"
"Emotion helps memory work"
"Avoid conceptual closure"
"Memories take in snapshots"
"People will forget what you said or what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel"