Timberland: Unspeakable Truths – Neuro-science and AI enable better identification of the emotions conveyed by advertising

Timberland, the shoe brand, tested the role emotions played in its ads in China, and revealed that ads which make audiences smile – while keeping frowns and disgust to a minimum – amplify potential success.


This research sets out to better understand an often mentioned but not well understood feature of advertising: Emotion.

For researchers, emotions in advertising are slippery beasts to catch hold of. Qualitative approaches can be very effective for surfacing people's feelings about an ad but are also dependent on the skill of the moderator and cannot be scaled. And in a quantitative setting, where short interviews are preferred for cost and quality reasons, the priority for pre-testing is usually to measure performance KPIs and diagnostics which can be normatively compared. Even if asked in a survey, few respondents make the...

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