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

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

Once Upon An Election: Research, Politics and Stories

Study the current US election for a week or two and you’ll notice one word turn up again and again in the commentary: narrative. Politicians control the narrative, they reinforce the narrative, they seize the narrative, they reshape the narrative, they build the narrative, and that’s before the voters get their say, at which point they might defy the narrative, overturn the narrative, confirm the narrative, or perhaps just get heartily sick of the narrative and stay home. They might have the sympathy of Washington Post writer Erik Wemple, who last week wrote a heartfelt column: “A Plea To Pundits: Stop Saying ‘Narrative’”


Narrative is one of those words that starts off sounding smart and ends up sounding clichéd. Marketing has those kind of words too – “engagement”, or “insight”, or “disruption”. Such words gradually begin to lose much of their specific meaning. But that doesn’t mean they never had any. All these overused words have kernels of something useful inside them. In the case of narrative, what the word intuits is a truth the psychologist Jonathan Haidt has succinctly expressed. Human beings are not logic processors. We are story processors. Continue reading

The Politics Of System 1

Brian And The Juice is a strictly bipartisan blog but we couldn’t help be interested in this new study on conservatism and cognition. Basically, if you put people under time pressure, increase their cognitive load, or, er, get them hammered, their politics get more conservative. “These data suggest”, as the abstract discreetly puts it, “that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low effort thought”.

“Low effort thought” sounds pretty damning, and sure enough I was sent this link by a liberal whose spin on it was – well, you can imagine. But if you’re not a conservative, this study ought to worry you as much as cheer you. It’s an example of Daniel Kahneman’s “System 1 and System 2” thinking – fast or pressured thinking (System 1) results in different decisions than more effortful cognition (System 2). And here’s what should give liberals pause – low-effort, system 1 decisions are way more common than thoughtful system 2 ones, mostly because they’re so much easier. So while making an effort to think things through sounds a good idea, it’s far from what people – in any situation, politics or not – actually do.