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Unconscious codes of storytelling in Food Tv commercials

Based on the speech by Yener Girisken // CEO – ThinkNeuro Neuromarketing A.Ş. and Seda Cetin // Consumer Insights Manager – Pepsico Turkey at CERTAMENTE 2020

It is natural to wonder why it is not sufficient to ask people who take part in a neurometric test directly how they feel in a particular situation.

The answer is simple: we do not know how to properly verbalize the spectrum of emotions and sensations that we do not consciously live as soon as stimulated and, to speak of communication, we do not rationally know which adv or product speaks to us in a more direct way pushing us to choose it. It is precisely in establishing these parameters that neuromarketing becomes essential to truly understand consumers.

Photo by Inggrid Koe on Unsplash

Understanding why people behave in a certain way with neuromarketing

If traditional research answers the question “What happens”, neuroscience answers the question “Why it happens”.

Compared to the past, it has now become clear that consumer decision-making is very different from what was agreed. The consumer perceives, decides instinctively and only after a rational assessment of the decision he has taken emotionally. The paradigm is practically opposite to what was thought in the past: we make emotional decisions that we try to frame in rational frames.

Neuromarketing and food brands: the Pepsico case

For a food brand to understand what emotions and senses to raise through communication is essential to make its products relevant. Pepsi Turkey decided to neuro-scientifically test a series of food-themed commercials to determine which ones were the most engaging for the public, as well as to convey its products in the most impactful way possible.


The study, carried out by Turkish research centre ThinkNeuro and presented at the fifth edition of CERTAMENTE, was translated into an analysis with eye-tracker, EEG and later an in-depth interview. Sixty-four participants were involved, between the ages of 18 and 35, with a sample divided equally between men and women, half of whom had a knowledge of English language. Sixteen participants took part in a following in-depth interview.

Key factors in food related communication

In food-related communication, it is important to adequately stimulate consumer mirror neurons, making them identify with the images and messages they are viewing. For example, it is crucial to know the way people eat: since most people are right-handed (84% compared to 16% left-handed among the world population), the image of a cake plate with a fork on the right will perform better than an almost identical image, but with the cutlery on the left side of the plate.

The attitude to be conveyed is mirroring, that is to make the consumer feel reflected with the communication he is observing, identifying himself with what he is looking at. It can be stimulated, especially in food, through multi-sensoriality. Studies show how a communication that can engage the public with effective sensory stimuli is able to activate a greater sense of satisfaction and joy. Emotion, then, in combination with multi-sensoriality, is the key to creating a consequent action (emotion to motion).

neuromarketing food

Neuromarketing insights from the Pepsico case

Speaking of multi-sensoriality, Pepsico understood that music in a commercial should not only be a background, but that noises and music should somehow interact with images and messages, to stimulate better attention and memorability.

The most instinctive part of our brain is then particularly attracted and involved by storytelling. The stories have allowed us to survive through an easy and immediately understandable learning. This explains why if messages are somehow narrated people remember them more easily. Stories, precisely because of their intrinsic educational side, bring with them a sense of trust: people trust those who tell stories effectively.

In TV communication for food, it is also essential to play with packaging. This is what consumers will see at the point of sale, not the company’s logo: for this reason, the pack must become a good anchor for the final choice.