The art and science of mastering memories

September 21, 2018
Rachel Jackson
Senior Strategist

This year’s offering from Campaign UNDERGROUND didn’t disappoint. Earlier this week, Rachel Bateman and I spent the afternoon learning about Focal Recall: the art and science of mastering memories. Hosted at Fest Camden, the event was an expertly curated mix of immersive, sensory experiences – from an 80s birthday party and a 70s Cinzano and vol-au-vent soiree; to interactive seminars with Ed Cooke, a world memory champion. The event centered around a series of compelling keynote speeches across the worlds of human and consumer psychology, memory research, sensory science, neuro insight and brand management.

The scientific theory was crucially coupled with activation ‘proof’ – big brand success stories from Bird’s Eye and Moneysupermarket and benchmark creative activation in the form of Bose’s immersive ‘Eye of the Storm’ retail experience.

Here are 3 of our most memorable snapshots:

  • Memories aren’t true recordings
    We think the future doesn’t involve memories – if it hasn’t happened yet, how can we have a memory of it?
    But our notion of ‘now’ is shaped by memories, and as memories aren’t true recordings (micro snapshots only) it is possible to re-construct a memory to alter future behaviour. Hence the role of nostalgia in advertising success stories such as #epicskeletor and the Captain Bird’s Eye re-launch.
  • A key campaign emotion is more important than a key campaign visual
    Creating a campaign that enhances positive congruent emotions (e.g. anticipation + surprise + joy) by combining different sensory reactions (e.g. sound, smell, touch, sight) is infinitely more memorable than a key visual (which only engages one sense (sight)). Emotional memories are better remembered than non-emotional ones.
  • Weave the brand into the narrative throughout and avoid ‘conceptual closure
    This is the most effective way to implant a brand into the memory. If a narrative signals a natural end or closing thought (e.g. a door closes, a light is turned off, a punchline is delivered), the brain is ‘satisfied’ and interest momentarily falls. To reveal the brand at this point – after ‘conceptual closure’ – results in the brand being forgotten. Weave the brand (through visual cues, tone, logo placement) THROUGHOUT the entirety of your narrative. There’s a reason the Guinness Surfer ad is as vivid now as it was at launch 20 years ago…

Not an afternoon that will be easy to forget – well done Campaign Underground!