System1 Politics: Who Is Theresa May’s Biggest Threat?

Theresa May’s first conference speech as British Prime Minister will dominate the newspapers tomorrow. But how strong is her overall position? Back in August we used our System1 Politics techniques to assess the strengths of several leading UK politicians.

System1 Politics – which is nominated for an award at December’s MRS Awards – takes the tools we use to track and predict the commercial success of brands and applies them to politicians and parties. We look at three baseline heuristics that drive decision-making at a fast, System 1 level.

Fame – how rapidly a politician comes to mind

Feeling – how good people feel about them

Fluency – how distinctive and recognisable they are to the public.

The 3 Fs are combined into a single star rating which gives a one-stop ‘meter reading’ of a politician’s current standing.

Here are selected topline figures for the UK.


What does this tell us? Continue reading

System1 Politics: Five Things You Need To Know

This week we were proud to launch System1 Politics, a new BrainJuicer project. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s asking the big questions.

System1 Politics is a new specialist unit set up to use BrainJuicer methodologies – like our Brand Tracking, Ad Testing, Predictive Markets, and Storyteller tools – to tackle political questions. Like “who’s going to win the US election?”

It’s following the Presidential race.

At, our microsite, which is currently all about Trump and Clinton and will be for the next 8 weeks, with an update every Tuesday showing their current standings and a fresh selection of no-holds-barred consumer verbatims that might raise even Trump’s hair. Even back in January we were predicting an extremely close race and the current waves of data are bearing that out. Continue reading

Re-uniting The Kingdom: What’s The Story For Theresa May’s Britain?

This is a post outlining the results of our latest BrainJuicer Politics study into where Britain is headed, post-Brexit. Dig into the detail in the full post – but here’s our executive summary.

  • If the Referendum was to be held again, Leave would still win.
  • The country is emotionally divided – Remain voters are distraught about the decision, Leave voters delighted and very positive about the future.
  • Looking at the narratives people fit the UK into, the country’s Current Story is still Comedy – things will be fine in the end.
  • But Britain’s Optimal Story – the one which would make people happiest if it came true – has changed. It’s now Rags To Riches – drawing strength from Britain’s experience of tough times to inspire future prosperity.
  • Theresa May is seen as the politician most likely to help this happen, well ahead of any rivals.

Continue reading

Brexit – What’s The Story?

Which way is next month’s Referendum on Britain leaving the EU going to go? Opinion polls are split over whether we’re heading for Brexit or not. But you can get useful insight into the dynamics of the race by using other, more emotional methods.

We used our Storyteller tool – designed to help brands find the right story to tell – to look at what the underlying narratives motivating Brexiters and Remainers might be.

The results – set out in this case study – make clear why there’s not yet a clear outcome. It’s because neither side is convincingly telling the story the British people want to hear. And with a month to go, victory will go to the side that tells it best.

1. Finding Britain’s Current Story

Instead of directly asking about Brexit, we wanted to get at the deeper issues lying below the referendum debate. So we asked not about the referendum stories, but about the stories of Britain itself. What is Britain’s story, at this crucial moment in its history?

Brexit ST 1

Every Storyteller project starts by establishing the Current Story – the archetypal narrative that people find most believable right now. We wrote our seven brief narratives, based on the Seven Basic Plots identified by Christopher Booker. We made sure none of them directly mentioned the EU or the Referendum, so people could project their own concerns onto the stories more easily. Then we found out which of them people think might come true. Continue reading

Explaining The Rise Of Donald Trump

Orlando Wood reviews the results of our latest self-funded project – predicting the US election results and understanding the deeper dynamics at play.

Psychology tells us that humans are fast and frugal in our decision-making, that we ‘think much less than we think we think’. Instead, we are guided by impressions, associations, past experience, stories and feelings. We use mental shortcuts or rules of thumb to help us decide between options, products, brands – and indeed politicians. This is what psychologists refer to as ‘fast’ or ‘System 1’ thinking.

Back in late January, before the very first Caucus or Primary vote was cast – when the prediction markets and polls were in a state of flux (and indeed you might say they still are!) – we conducted research in the US to understand how well the US candidates had established the important mental shortcuts of Fame, Feeling and Fluency. Continue reading

Election ’16: Who Wins?

It’s no secret that opinion polling has had a rough time of it lately. Gallup have stopped even running their polls in the USA. All the major polling firms had a nightmare predicting the outcome of the UK’s 2015 general election. And in Michigan a couple of weeks ago, a 20-point Primary lead for Hillary Clinton turned into a 1-point win for Bernie Sanders – the single worst polling performance in a US Primary since the 1980s.

trump clinton

It got us wondering. What would happen if instead of directly asking about political outcomes, we tried to make predictions using the same tools we use for brand research? Our webinar talks you through the results of these experiments.

Our branding model – brand growth based on Fame, Feeling and Fluency – rests on one key truth. People don’t make brand decisions based on complex considerations,  but on rapid, unconscious shortcuts. And that’s probably how they make political decisions too. Continue reading

To Make Adverts Shareable, Go With The Flow

One nice thing about testing thousands of ads is that we collect loads of data, and sometimes that data turns out to be useful in ways we hadn’t imagined it would.

For instance, we generally measure emotional reactions to video ads from moment to moment – so we can see where in a commercial happiness peaks, and whether it tails off towards the end. This is vital for working out how ads can be improved – spotting flat parts or unresolved negative emotions.

What we realised, though, is that it also gave us a way of measuring the emotional movement within an ad – in other words, how dynamic and dramatic the ad is. If we added up every time the emotion within an ad changed, we’d end up with a cumulative measure of how emotionally dynamic it is.

We called this measure Flux. If an ad takes you on a rollercoaster ride from happy, to fearful, to sad, then back to happy again, it would score a very high Flux rating. And if an ad just made you evenly happy from the first second to the last, with no other emotions coming in, its Flux would be really low.

What's your flux capacity?

What’s your flux capacity?

Investigating this stuff is fun, but it’s only useful if we can relate it to real-world behaviour. We know that if you feel nothing, you do nothing – ads which make people happy are better than ads which don’t, no matter how much dynamism and Flux we detect. So what sort of behaviour might the emotional movement in an ad predict? What is Flux good for? Continue reading