Brain Scans Reveal Why Coca Cola's Super Bowl Ad Won Over American Consumers While So Many Other Brands Fumbled

In The Year of the 'Amygdala,' Advertisers Trigger Anxiety with their Super Bowl Advertising

Feb 05, 2007, 00:00 ET from FKF Applied Research, LLC

    LOS ANGELES, Calif., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- FKF Applied Research, LLC and Professor Marco Iacoboni of the UCLA Ahmanson Lovelace Brain Mapping Center have released their Second Annual Ranking of the most effective Super Bowl ads using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain imaging. Many of the Super Bowl ads stoked regions of the brain associated with anxiety, including the amygdala. The best testing advertisements, such as the: 60 "Video Game" ad for Coca Cola, fired the region of consumers' brains associated with positive emotions.     "This clearly was the year of the amygdala, the brain's 'threat detector.' Compared to last year's ads there was much more anxiety, and far less positive emotion in these highly touted commercials, said Dr. Joshua Freedman UCLA Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and a co-founder of FKF Applied Research. "Much of the anxiety seemed caused by violence, but was also rooted in economic fears. The Nationwide ad had a spike when Kevin Federline was revealed to be working in fast food, and also when the GM robot turned out to be OK but afraid for its job."     Arguing about which ads are best has been an integral part of the Super Bowl experience. Now, UCLA and FKF are employing a technology that has revolutionized neuroscience to peer more deeply than traditional methods like focus groups into the question of which ads are really effective with consumers.     Top Ranking Ads     Coca Cola -- Video Game     Doritos -- Live the Flavor     Bud Light -- Hitchhiker      Bottom Ranking Ads     Emerald Nuts -- Robert Goulet     Honda -- CRV Crave     Sprint -- Connectile Dysfunction     The group's Super Bowl rankings along with color images of peoples' brain responses to the ads are posted on     FKF and UCLA's empirical approach measures activity in regions of the brain known to help control whether a consumer will buy or reject a marketer's sales pitch. The fMRI used by FKF and UCLA displays activity in parts of the brain responsible for elemental responses, including wanting, reward, surprise, fear, disgust, conflict, and attempts to control emotions.     "Asking someone what is going on in their brain is in some ways like asking them what is going on in their heart," said Dr. Freedman. "Much of the important activity is outside of their awareness. Coke's ad did well because it engaged a full range of emotions, including the mirror region, which is associated with connection and empathy. Typically, between 1/3 and 1/2 of ads are filtered out and are essentially ignored by viewers' brains. Usually the Super Bowl ads do somewhat better, but not this year. The majority elicited very little response."     FKF Applied Research and Dr. Marco Iacoboni's group at the UCLA Ahmanson Lovelace Brain Mapping Center recruited men and women ages 18-34 to watch this year's Super Bowl ads. The subjects viewed the ads while in UCLA's high-field fMRI scanner, which monitors the activity in their brains.     For an interview with Dr. Joshua Freedman, UCLA Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and co-founder of FKF Applied Research, contact Debra DeShong Reed (+1-202-528-4214), Amy Weiss (+1-202-203-0448) or Mark Wheeler with UCLA (+1-301-794-2265).     About FKF     FKF Applied Research ( uses fMRI technology to better understand commercially and culturally important communications. fMRI is viewed by most neuroscientists as the most powerful technology ever developed to understand how people think, feel, and make decisions. It has revolutionized the scientific study of human behavior and choice at most major Universities around the world, and is rapidly changing the field of market research and advertising.  

SOURCE FKF Applied Research, LLC