BOSTON: Food marketers can learn some useful lessons from Doctor Fork, a fake pizza brand created by Google to explore areas of advertising that real brands tend to avoid.

The idea, according to Ben Jones, creative director at Google’s Unskippable Labs, was “to use the freedom of the unbranded ad to be wrong, to push in directions and ask questions that a brand will not, because a brand has a complex brief and very focused set of objectives.”

As an example of what he meant, he cited the common belief among food marketers that an ad should never show somebody chewing food while looking at the camera.

“Maybe I can’t look directly at the camera, but Doctor Fork can do whatever he wants,” Jones told Techcrunch.

Working with Nestlé and Ryan Elder, an associate professor of marketing at Brigham Young University, Jones set out to explore how sensory cues impacted effectiveness and how much human presence there should be in food ads, creating more than 30 ads using stock footage which were then served up on YouTube.

Among the findings were that that immersive, multi-sensory experiences drove better recall than single sensory experiences and that separating visual input from text increased both recall and favorability.

It was also the case that the typical “bite-and-smile” approach was unnecessarily limiting and that there are other equally valid ways to show a pleasurable food experience.

The study further found that younger audiences responded better to first-person perspectives (POV) than older audiences did.

“It is increasingly rare that academic research actually makes its way into practice, or when it does, it’s a little too late to make an impact,” observed Elder.

“Similarly, many times academics focus more on the theoretical rather than practical consequences of their research, limiting its impact,” he added. “The findings from the large scale YouTube experiments led to very fruitful brainstorming with the agencies and brand teams.”

Sourced from Techcrunch; additional content by WARC staff