LONDON: The use of neuroscience in advertising is growing to embrace a range of scenarios beyond simple ad testing, with both practitioners and brands seeing useful application in everything from insight to creativity.

As Trish Rajo Brea, senior CMI manager for global laundry at FMCG giant Unilever, pointed out last week to an audience at a Brainy Bar event organised by Warc and neuroscience consultancy Walnut: "There's no point in a client testing something with a neuro lens if it hasn't been created with one, too."

Recent research from Poland highlights one way in which advertisers might rethink their approach to creative.

Heather Andrew, CEO of research firm Neuro Insight, outlined the findings of a study that exposed participants to one of three videos of a comedian telling a series of jokes, the first against a plain background, the second against a photo of a McDonald's logo, the third against a stylised McDonald's logo.

They were then asked about their likelihood to buy McDonald's, versus its rival Burger King, and the biggest difference could be seen in the "subtle" video with the stylised logo.

"Overt ads can turn the brain off," Andrew explained. "Subtlety can be surprisingly powerful." (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: Subtlety, agility and differentiation: Three routes to neuromarketing success.)

She suggested a framework for thinking about subtle communications, which can build memories of a brand over the long term: the brand room.

"Each brand has room in people's heads – some are well furnished, some are bare," Andrew said. "Great ads furnish the room – that's the role of advertising."

Follow-up communications – or even more general associations such as a colour or a shape, just like the stylised McDonald's logo behind the comedian – are "like turning the light on" in the brand room.

"Once you've got the brand room, you need to be subtle in your reminders," Andrew said.

"You put the light on once you've furnished the room. Then, you remember the ad and you're in the room again."

Data sourced from Warc