Forget The Hearts - Here's Why Burberry Has Won Our Minds This Christmas

Alongside some very positive figures on this Christmas setting records for ad spend and the endless debate over whether John Lewis has done it again, or has Aldi's spoof trumped it, there's an interesting article in Marketing looking at the neuroscience behind this year's festive ads. The term "neuroscience" has been around for quite a while now, but it seems to have been given a lot of attention this year as several brands try to engage with the human in us rather than just flash up how much mince pies are being sold for.

So it's interesting to see a neuroscience expert take a look at the major campaigns for this year and decide that actually neither John Lewis -- with its #ManOnTheMoon -- or Sainsbury's -- with Mog the cat -- are winners, as far as advertising to people's brains goes. Apparently, both have great stories but make the same potential mistake of putting up a single moment of branding right at the end of the ad when the story has unravelled and we realise what it's all about. Much as we humans love a story that has a logical ending, providing a clean-cut finish apparently makes us all go back over the story to make sense of it, just at the same time that the branding appears, potentially distracting us. There is, of course, a proviso that the brands are now so famous and their Christmas ads so hotly anticipated that this is less of a problem for festive campaigns than the rest of the year.

It may come as some surprise, then, to hear that Burberry is the brand that has won our minds this year. Its wonderful, fun homage to 15 years of Billy Elliot sees a long line of celebrities bouncing in front of the camera in slow motion fully adorned in Burberry clothes and accessories. Romeo Beckham, James Corden, Sir Elton John, James Bay, Julie Walters and many others are smiling away with glitter falling as they strike a pose each time they appear in front of the lens, presumably with a trampoline below. It's a lot of fun, and the clothes are there for all to see with some very clear celebrity endorsement.

So how come it engages our brains so well? Well, the answers are pretty simple. To start with, the celebrities all fit the Burberry brand. They're iconic British A listers, not a reality tv wannabe in sight. Secondly, the branding is there throughout the film so it's not potentially obscured by our brains reconciling a story at the end of the ad. Perhaps most importantly, we have a feeling of anticipation as the boy puts on a record and then we have rhythmic bouncing throughout the two-minute ad. Apparently, there's nothing our brains like better than a predictable flow. I guess, if you think about it, that's why we all tap our feet to the beat of a hit song.

The lesson from marketers, then, is that it isn't just clever and emotional storytelling that can appeal to the human in us. Something as traditional as celebrity endorsement and having the brand in shot nearly all the time can still work, as long as it's done well -- and most importantly here, with a rhythm that the brain enjoys being captivated by.

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