Few brands use sign language in their television advertising but Turkcell is one such. And it came about almost by accident, according to Sili Hac─▒hanefio─člu, consumer insight lead at Turkey's leading mobile operator.

Speaking at the MRMW Europe conference (Berlin, November 2017), she outlined an advertising research project that had been designed to assess whether viewers' attention to a TV ad was distracted by the use of a narrator signing in the corner of the screen. "Is everyone looking at the narrator and just trying to understand which sign represents which word in Turkish … with nobody watching the rest of the ad?"

Traditional methods were rejected in favour of EEG and eye-tracking, she explained, since few people would consciously reject the idea of sign language, "but maybe deep inside that may not be the truth". And in any case, she added, "we're doing a campaign and trying to sell something - people should not be distracted".

Participants were shown two versions of an advertisement, one without a narrator, one with. EEG measured a range of emotions, including:

  • Engagement: is the ad boring or catchy?
  • Excitement: is it calming or exciting?
  • Frustration: is it easy to understand or complicated?