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Millward Brown Shows Love To Emotional Measurement & BrainJuicer Returns The Favor

In a humorous prank highlighting an important turning point in advertising, BrainJuicer thanks Millward Brown for acknowledging in a recent publication that emotional factors may be better indicators of long terms brand success than traditional metrics.

Orlando Wood, Managing Director, BrainJuicer Labs, holds the card that was delivered to Millward Brown


We all know BrainJuicer can be cheeky (anyone who has seen this video by Chief Juicer John Kearon can attest to that!), but today they really used that wicked sense of humor to great effect by sending a Valentine’s Day card to Millward Brown signed by some of the leading creative agencies in the world. I asked the BrainJuicer team what possessed them to send a gift to one of their major competitors and here is the answer I received:

Why are we sending our love to Millward Brown you say?

Well, we wanted to thank them for their bravery in publicly acknowledging that it’s emotion rather than persuasion that drives long-term brand success. We feel this is a seismic move on MB’s part and one with the potential to consign the era of ‘Persuasion’ to the past – and we were keen to thank them publicly for this shift in their thinking – as indeed, it seems, is the creative industry. Their article is linked on the card.

The background here is that for years Millward Brown (and just about everyone else who tests creative content, especially against norms) has focused on explicit measures of persuasion vs. the implicit aspects of emotion such as engagement and enjoyment. In fact, as more evidence arose that persuasion elements were not reliable indicators of campaign success in the new social marketing  paradigm  there was quite a bit of debate within the industry on what  the best measurement approach was, with the 2 sides seemingly divided between explicit and implicit models. Even up to last week the debate continued, as evidenced by this exchange on the blog of Mark Earls, author of Herd & I’ll Have What She’s Having.

Now it seems as if the debate is done and Millward Brown has acknowledged in a recent publication that yes indeed, emotional factors may be better indicators of long term brand success than traditional metrics:

It does seem that persuasion is not necessary for long-term brand building. This highlights the need to be clear in setting advertising objectives either in terms of short-term sales effects or longer-term brand building.

…Our database shows that, among other things, emotionally powerful ads are more memorable (‘Should my advertising stimulate an emotional response?‘ Millward Brown)

The variety of different emotional responses obtained by award-winning advertising highlights that there is no one emotion to trigger for successful advertising. rather, the successful ad triggers the emotion that is relevant for that brand and positioning.

…The analysis presented here helps to explain the overlap we observe between creative advertising and effective advertising.

While creativity cannot be defined or prescribed, its effects can be measured, and creative ads tend to be enjoyable and involving, and different to other advertising. They tend to stimulate an emotional response. Effective ads also tend to generate these responses – and they are also likely to be well branded.

The analysis also highlights that one differentiator between creative ads and effective ads is that effective ads are more likely to have the brand as an integral part of the advertising.

There is no single route to effective advertising, and this is particularly in evidence in looking at emotional response, where no one emotional response seems to be related to effective advertising.

Despite having the biggest pretesting database in the world, Millward Brown acknowledges that the base sizes for this analysis are not as robust as we would wish. Still, we do believe that the analysis adds a useful contribution to the debate.

That’s the insight that many creatives have known instinctively (or at least anecdotally) for years and many agencies have had the sense that this truth was being ignored by the explicit, persuasion based metric model. It’s quite the victory then for an industry leader like Millward Brown to acknowledge the role of creativity, emotions, and implicit measurement in brand success, so with tongue firmly in cheek BrainJuicer and many agencies wanted to send a thank you to the brand measurement leader for legitimizing this new and intensely exciting area for both marketing and research.

Here is the Valentine. It’s pretty funny, so enjoy it for what it is meant to be: some good natured and friendly ribbing between leaders in the industry.

I’m just glad that all involved are embracing new ideas and doing the work to determine how effective these various approaches are. It’s a brave new world of brand relationship building and this is important stuff. None of us can afford to rest on our laurels or make assumptions based on old models that may not take into account new knowledge or a changing cultural framework. That’s going to be important for everyone to remember as we move forward, because we’re just at the beginning of this journey of understanding the true drivers of consumer decision making and relationship building.

Hats off to BrainJuicer for being emotional measurement pioneers and evangelists, to the creatives for being..well creative, and to Millward Brown for having the intellectual integrity to embrace new ideas. It’s taken the hard work of all involved in this debate to get to this point and everyone who has pushed the boundaries deserves kudos!

I have a great relationship with both BrainJuicer and all of the Kantar family of companies and have nothing but profound respect for the leadership these firms show in the industry. It’s only a good thing that some of the major players in the industry are finally agreeing on the same basic model; now we can all work together to build off of this knowledge base for the betterment of us all!

And by the way, April Fool’s Day is right around the corner, so I fully expect to get pranked myself now since I publicized this one. Give it your best shot; I promise I’ll post that one too!


BrainJuicer just posted a video of Will Goodhand delivering the valentine to the Millward Brown office. It’s pretty hilarious in a “The Office” kind of way. Hats off to all for being good sports and having fun with this. I can’t wait to see how Millward Brown pranks them back; this could be a lot of fun to watch!



Nigel Hollis of Millward Brown posted his own archly tongue in cheek response to the BrainJuicer prank this morning here. Here’s an excerpt:

I understand that the nice people over at Brainjuicer sent our Millward Brown London office a Valentine’s Day card. My name was on the card (even if they delivered it to someone else). How sweet of them, I’m so happy that they would think of me (thanks, guys!).

But I can’t believe how long that card took to get to us. It must have been lost in the post for decades because it strangely suggests that Millward Brown has had a recent change of heart over the role of emotions in advertising. When in reality, Millward Brown pioneered the measurement of emotion in advertising decades before Brainjuicer appeared on the scene, and has championed the longer-term effects of advertising for almost as long.

I sense a bit of tension here, so I’m going to make a public offer to all involved: let me play relationship counselor. Let’s sit down and debate the issues to clear the air, then hug it out. After all, the good news here is that all parties are in agreement that emotions play a critical role in the long term success of relationships between consumers and brands; the rest is just a difference in opinion in how we go about measuring them and I think an open and honest exchange of ideas on that front would be beneficial for us all.

So let me know guys; think of me as the Love Doctor (because I love you both!), and the doctor is in anytime you want to sit down and talk this out!

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6 responses to “Millward Brown Shows Love To Emotional Measurement & BrainJuicer Returns The Favor

  1. Cute story Lenny. Interestingly Anderson Analtyics has been measuring ad effectiveness, specifically emotion using Text Analytics, for several clients including MTV for over 6 years now.

    We’ve had a few white papers on this out for some time, here are two:

    Guess next time we’ll just send a card to someone 😉

    Tom Anderson
    Anderson Analytics – OdinText

  2. How many folk in MR really appreciate the value of great branding and marketing? And how many actually make it work for themselves?

  3. Not many Edward. The purpose of tracking the GRIT 50 is to show that exactly and recognize the brands that are being successful in managing their brand identity. Seems counter intuitive that those who can’t apply good brand management to their own brands would be expected to deliver insight into how clients can more effectively develop their own.

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