DDB London brings in neuroscientist to understand consumers – and jingles

One Dr Daniel Mullensiefen no less, a lecturer in pyschology, music and computing at Goldsmiths college at the University of London.

The doc will spend one day a week advising DDB London on neuroscientific theory and pyschological testing. This all sounds rather sinister, back to the days when subliminal advertising was a hot topic in the US, but potential critics may be mollified by the fact that the Doc is also an expert in so-called ‘earworms’, not some malignant invader but catchy jingles.

One of Mullensiefen’s findings to date has been that tunes with low complexity and long intervals between notes tend to be more instantly memorable. As any viewer of the X-Factor would know.

Mullensiefen told the Financial Times that his role at the agency was to “have an open chat about what new scientific methods such as brain imagery” might do for advertising. In consumer groups he’ll be trying to glean information from eye movements or reactions times rather than what the guinea pigs actually say.

For the agency strategy director Sarah Carter says “this will help us with the emotional side of advertising which tends to be overlooked by clients in favour of messages and more rational things.”

Yes, those damned rational things. Actually this is not really a first for DDB London because, in its original incarnation as Boase Massimi Pollitt it pioneered the use of qualitative research to provide rational backing for many of late creative director John Webster’s crazy but brilliant campaigns.

So the appliance of science (not one of BMP’s lines) is hardly new in its Bishop’s Bridge Road HQ.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.