FEELMORE AD SPOTLIGHT #1: Thai Life – “Unsung Hero”

Each week in the FeelMore Ad Spotlight we’ll post about an ad we’ve tested that made people feel more. It’s all leading up to January’s release of the Global FeelMore Fifty – the definitive list of the year’s most emotional ads.

This inaugural spotlight falls on the Thai Life Insurance company’s “Unsung Hero”, released earlier this year. It’s the latest in a series of unashamedly emotional ads from Thai Life that dates back over a decade – well before any recent global trend for “sadvertising”. The ad’s director, “Tor” Sornsrivichai, has been described as “the most awarded ad director in the world”, and is perhaps the global king of emotional advertising.

“Unsung Hero” shows why “Tor” got those awards. It follows an ordinary guy who performs random acts of kindness to no apparent reward. The emotional journey of the ad mixes sadness and happiness – the man’s kind acts contrasted with the poverty or loneliness of some of those he helps. What does he get for it, the ad asks? Nothing. But the commercial puts the lie to its own claim, with a series of payoffs showing exactly what a difference he makes.

In an increasingly globalised world, ads with a universal appeal can make an international impact, wherever they’re from. But that same globalisation gives “Unsung Hero” its power: a globalised world is one where the individual feels less powerful and in control than ever. “Unsung Hero”- like a three-minute It’s A Wonderful Life – reassures us that the individual can still matter to other people.

It’s an important idea for a life insurance company – that’s a business where mattering to other people is the selling point – but very importantly Thai Life know better than to underline that in the ad. There’s no message here, and minimal branding – it just tells a story and makes you feel a lot. The result? When we tested Thai Life it got a very high (five-star) score – and it’s a strong possibility as the inaugural winner of the FeelMore Global list.

Ads in the FeelMore Ad Spotlight are tested using ComMotion, our award-winning proprietary ad testing tool: the only major ad testing product to use emotion as the foundation of its model. To learn more about emotional advertising and our methodology, contact BrainJuicer.

These Aren’t The Insights You’re Looking For

Last week on the blog we published an obituary for the Traditional Concept, which struck a nerve and became our most-read post for months. Research concepts, we argued, are simply too reasonable – they are appeals to deliberative System 2 thinking in a world where decisions are actually made by our fast, emotionally-guided System 1.

So concepts ought to try and reach System 1 first: they should be far more visual, ought to have more emotional charge and ought to be easier to process (i.e. use fewer words). This isn’t because we think those concepts will necessarily do better in tests – though in our validations many do – but because System 1 concepts replicate real behavioural context better, and are more differentiated. It’s easier with System 1 concepts to tell apart the winners from the losers.

The next question is – what should such concepts include? In upcoming posts we’ll talk about that. But this post is about something they shouldn’t include. Concepts that appeal to System 1 should not lead off with an insight statement.

Perhaps this seems like odd advice. After all, a good insight ought to be a universal human truth – something that feels intuitively right. If we’re looking for emotional impact, isn’t the insight the most emotional part of a concept?


“Luuuuke…. I am your insiiiiight…”

The reason for dropping insights boils down to three words: show, don’t tell. It’s the most basic advice to scriptwriters and it applies to concept writing too. If you have a human truth behind your concept, it should be something people can feel in the visuals and the description. It doesn’t have to be something they can articulate. In fact, sometimes it shouldn’t be.

For example, let’s think about Star Wars. Continue reading

The REAL Problem With Polls

With the Scottish referendum over, the polling post-mortem begins. We’re hearing the usual complaints: they got it wrong, they overestimated one side, and prediction markets were better.

Since we have a very successful research product based on the fact that predictive markets work better than asking intentions, you’d expect us to join in this pile-on.

But a lot of the criticism of polls is based on a misunderstanding about what they actually are. Continue reading

Rip It Up And Start Again?

Tomorrow, Scotland goes to the polls to vote for or against independence. Opinion polls are close – close enough, in fact, that they make pollsters nervous. The slight advantage to the “No” (anti-independence) campaign they show is tight enough that they could be left embarrassed either way.

Scotland’s finest.

If you believe – as most of us now do – that people are poor predictors of their own decisions, voting intention is obviously a great test case. One of our favourite studies, on US elections, showed that whatever the outcome, people were exceptionally poor judges of whether they would vote at all: come the day, half the declared “non-voters” actually turned out. (And a fair number of voters stayed home). Continue reading

Obituary: The Traditional Concept, c.1960 – 2014

The traditional Concept, which passed away earlier this year after a brief illness, will be fondly remembered by the many researchers who spent time with it. It was a reassuring presence in the research industry, its three part structure – Insight-Benefit-Reason To Believe – resonating as a solid, common sense way of developing and testing new products.


Unfailing enthusiasm for lost causes was one of the deceased’s virtues.

The birthplace of the traditional Concept is disputed, but by the 1960s and 1970s it was a prominent fixture on the research scene, though at that point it consisted only of Benefits and RTBs. Even so its enthusiasm for innovation gave it a dynamic air as it introduced products like 1973’s Superfry, “the cooking oil that sets like jelly”. “It sets!” announced the traditional Concept, “It does something no other oil can do.” Continue reading

Reasons To Be Cheerful: 6 Ways Research Has Changed For The Better

Last week BrainJuicer Labs Content Director Tom Ewing presented the opening keynote at the AMSRS (Australian Market And Social Research Society) conference in Melbourne. This is a very edited summary of what he talked about!

Keynotes at market research events often have a rather depressing air – constantly stressing the research industry’s need to change, to become more like consultants, or technicians, or entrepreneurs, or else face extinction. Those doomy prescriptions have one thing in common: they assume that research can’t change, or is slow to do so. But it can. In the fifteen years I’ve been in the industry, research has changed enormously and that change is ongoing.

My AMSRS keynote was a celebration of that change, and of an industry with a marvellous capacity to change and adapt. It’s not about the future of research, but its present – the day-to-day reality of forward-thinking research companies. As Ian Dury put it in his song “Reasons To Be Cheerful”: “Yes yes my dear / perhaps next year / or maybe even now”. Why wait?


I talked about six main changes I saw happening in research. Continue reading

Why Not Use Research To Offer Your Customers LESS?

image1 - fashionToday’s blog post is by Micha Dudley, a Senior Research Associate in our Behaviour Change Unit. Thanks Micha!

Most clients use market research to find areas they can provide more value to their customers. But in some cases, it can be more beneficial to take a look at the areas businesses could stand to reduce some value.

For instance, this week an article was posted in The Wall which shares the excitement we all have about the potential of wearable tech and gives loads of interesting possibilities for wearable tech firms. Can tech companies work with jewellery companies? Can they bring out beautiful smart bracelets? Can they make wearable tech cool by offering more?


Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne would have them offer less instead.

One of the insights from their international bestseller Blue Ocean Strategy is that focussing your value on few attributes at the expense of others, can lead to success. Continue reading