Driving emotional engagement in automotive CGI with Neuroscience
What would you think is the best way to sell a car: showing the front three quarter view or the rear three quarter view? According to neuroscience, the answer might not be what you expect…

In his talk Chris Christodoulou, CEO of pioneering integrated creative production company Saddington Baynes, will reveal how they have embedded neuroscience techniques into their production process to optimise the creation of automotive imagery and enhance consumer engagement.

By tapping into the mind as well as the heart, brands can reinforce gut decisions in their marketing imagery: that means minimised risk, amplified intuition, and an increased chance of a successful campaign.
Chris will demonstrate, using real-world examples, how agencies and brands alike can harness and embed neuroscience techniques into everyday production, delivering augmented intuition around potential creative success, prior to an automotive campaign going live.

Audience Take Aways
• A greater understanding of what makes for an „emotionally engaging“ automotive image
• A greater understanding around neuroscience and how it can open a window into deeper, implicit nonconscious thinking
• How neuroscience can directly impact on CGI imagery for automotive campaigns
• How to apply this understanding to give agencies and brands an edge in the creative development process
• An understanding of ‚Engagement Insights‘ and how predicative analytics can help to drive the aesthetics of a campaign
• The impact this can have on a brand’s perception and differentiation
• What’s in store for the future for neuromarketing

Engagement Insights® and the rise of neuromarketing
Saddington Baynes CEO Chris Christodoulou speaks about the new Engagement Insights® service and how brands can leverage the power of nonconscious emotional response.
Dr. Gerald Zaltman of Harvard University’s Mind, Brain and Behavior Interfaculty Initiative once told us “95% of consumer decisions are made at the subconscious level.”
Whether we’re buying a car or selecting a new detergent, the brain processes our reactions to a product before we’re even aware we’re thinking about it. It’s during this split-second flare of emotion that the seed of desire is planted – not during the logical process of cost consideration and rational observation that occurs later.
These findings have been reinforced many times; subsequent studies have consistently strengthened the argument that campaigns with a deeper strand of nonconscious thinking are more effective than those which target the rational brain.
The takeaway is obvious: if you can understand how people feel, you’ve gained a competitive advantage.

Going by the gut
As a digital retoucher with 20 years’ experience, I’ve collaborated closely with some of the world’s best photographers and creatives. I’ve crafted imagery of every kind, adding subtle colour and tonal shifts to deliver signature looks to campaign imagery. One of the questions I would always ask was ‘How do you want people to feel about this image?’
What I found was that many decisions made during production were based on collective or individual gut response toward what felt right for a particular campaign. I started to wonder if there was a way to truly know if the decisions I was making were the appropriate ones for the campaign and the brand.

This is why I was initially attracted to neuroscience – I’m intrigued by the human brain and how it works when interpreting imagery. It occurred to me during a WARC seminar – which is where I met NeuroStrata’s Thom Noble – that most neuromarketing techniques tend to be applied after a campaign has launched, when purchase data and analytics illustrate a positive or negative reaction to a campaign. I wanted to see if we could utilise the principles of implicit neuroscience in our work before a campaign is run.
Once we’d conducted our first tests, the answer was a resounding yes. Engagement Insights® was born.

Pre-cognitive insight
Of course, there are many ways of seeking out brand perception prior to a campaign, such as focus groups. But even here data is unreliable: the act of asking a consumer how they feel about something colours their response.
Neuroscience – and specifically neuromarketing – bypasses these distortions because questions become unnecessary; you elicit a deeper non-conscious response from the parts of the brain hidden even from ourselves – the part where the seed of desire is planted.
Obviously this presents a powerful proposition to brands looking to optimise their campaign imagery prior to launch – they can determine how their audience really feels about the imagery they’re exposed to. Whether that’s the response to the colour of a car, or the angle that a shoe is facing during a shoot, these things all have an effect on our emotions.
If you can get access to what drives those small, nuanced alterations – however slightly – towards the relevant attributes you want to promote, the impact on your brand campaign can be huge. Pre-cognitive insight about consumer perception and desire provides valuable insight on the potential success of a campaign.

Heightened instinct
We developed Engagement Insights® in partnership with NeuroStrata to help tap into this non-conscious insight.
Based on psychological tests backed by decades of research, Engagement Insights® allows us to delve into the previously inaccessible nonconscious perception of brands, revealing how people really react emotionally to the imagery our talented artists create. Importantly, all of this happens not in the lab but in the home, meaning the respondent sizes are much larger than any focus group.

It helps us to better guide the campaigns we create for world-leading agencies and brands, pushing imagery in the most appropriate direction and delivering on the emotional engagement, visual impact and fit-to-brand attributes desired by both company and audience.
Of course, the creativity of individuals will always sit at the core of groundbreaking visual campaigns. But science can – and should – play a valuable part too. Throughout history, artists and designers have crafted their work to appeal to the quirks of the human brain and visual system – even Renaissance artists used proportion and harmony pleasing to the human eye. Cerebral activity underpins that creativity.

By tapping into the mind as well as the heart, creatives can reinforce their gut decisions. Should a car face left or right? Some part of our brain may tell us left-facing is the right choice. With Engagement Insights® we can tell you, at speed, if that’s really the best option. Thom has coined the phrase ‘augmented intuition’.
So what is the benefit of neuroscience for brands and their agencies? Minimised risk, amplified intuition, guided creative exploration and an increased chance, no matter how subtle, of a successful campaign. It simply can’t be ignored in today’s world of constant competitive messaging.


Chris Christodoulou, CEO, Saddington Baynes
Chris joined Saddington Baynes in 1994 as the company’s first digital retoucher. Over the last 22 years he has stood as the driving force behind the studio’s growth and evolution.
Chris spearheads further innovation in development of the Engagement Insights® neuromarketing service – a world first for a creative production studio and an entirely new way to measure the emotional impact of imagery.