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  • Cognitive Sciences and Advertising Pre-Tests

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    In preparation for the workshop organised on 23 January by Adetem, François Laurent had sent this autumn to fifteen research institutes a letter accompanied by a document drafted by François Attali evoking the recent contributions made by cognitive sciences to the subject of memory, namely the distinction between the different types of memory: implicit and explicit, the latter splitting up into semantic memory – concepts – and episodic memory – events.
    In substance this letter from Adetem proposed to the research institutes to come and present at the special workshop in what ways their advertising pre-test methods currently included, or did not include, new findings in cognitive sciences.
    Repères as the French representative of the international Add+Impact method, was naturally among the recipients of this call for contributions.
    Finally, there were few of us who responded and seized this opportunity to talk in front of a substantial number of clients. Was this due to the traditionally busy schedule at the end of the year? Or was it because cognitive sciences call into question in an overly radical manner current advertising pre-test practises?
    Whatever the case, the three presentations selected, by Benoit Tranzer for Ipsos ASI, Philippe Jourdan for Panel on the web and myself for Repères Add+Impact, presented three very different methodologies.
    As far as Repères is concerned, this presentation offered an opportunity to stress the assets of Add+Impact, a method which, from its inception by Spike Craphorn in 1991, integrated the findings of Antonio Damasio on the part played by emotions.
    The aim for us was also to insist on three major implications of findings in cognitive sciences on methodological choices in pre-tests:
    . models based on the hierarchy of effects (think => Feel => Do, AIDA…), long considered as the best modelling of the impact of advertising are invalidated, or their relevance is limited to exceptional cases; thus the memorisation of the advertising should not be considered as a key indicator in pre-tests, these should focus more on the effect of the advertisement on the bond with the brand,
    . at the same time questions concerning appreciation of the advertisement in itself, for a long time ignored in pre-tests, must not be neglected since they are good predictors of the future Attention that the consumer will pay to this advertisement,
    . lastly the insertion of the advertisement to be tested within a reconstructed advertising slot, is to be avoided: memorisation scores after such reconstructed slots not being indicative of memorisation in real situations (to generate the Attention, the objective is not to emerge from among an ambient noise but to be capable of entering into emotional connection with the target). In addition in terms of content and activated associations, the other advertisements on the screen will interfere and render the diagnosis more difficult.
    It should be noted that many pre-test tools still used today are in total contradiction with these findings, namely via the use of advertising screens and the focus on memorisation.
    For more details, please consult the document of our presentation.

    To find out more about advertising research and cognitive sciences, I recommend the excellent book written by Erik Du Plessis, The advertised Mind (Cf advance sheets attached) .