Millward Brown: Case Study
Understanding Direct Mail with Neuroscience
©2009 Millward Brown
Right retrosplenial cortexBilateral cerebellum
Medial FPCPosterior cingulate into para cingulate
The work conducted on this project, to study the brain’sreaction to different forms of media, went to a level not seenbefore in market research. Some of our key findings were:
Tangible materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain
Note: This is not just because the physical materials stimulateboth sight and touch; the subtraction of brain signals fromthe scrambled materials accounts for this.
Material shown on cards generated more activity withinthe area of the brain associated with the integrationof visual and spatial information (the left and rightparietal).
This suggests that physical material is more “real” tothe brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is betterconnected to memory because it engages with its spatialmemory networks.
Physical material involves more emotional processing,which is important for memory and brand associations
More processing is taking place in the right retrosplenialcortex when physical material is presented. This isinvolved in the processing of emotionally powerful stimuliand memory, which would suggest that the physicalpresentation may be generating more emotionally vividmemories.
Physical activity generates increased activity in thecerebellum, which is associated with spatial and emotional
NB The red area in the images of the brain represents greater oxygenated blood flow (andhence activation) stimulated by physical ads. The blue areas are regions activated more byvirtual ads. The “cross hairs” highlight the named brain region.Left parietal
processing (as well as motor activity) and is likely to befurther evidence of enhanced emotional processing.
Physical materials produced more brain responsesconnected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads
The medial PFC and cingulate are the parts of thebrain associated with emotional engagement. They areactivated more by physical materials.
The brain’s “default network” appeared to remain moreactive when viewing direct mail. Activity in this brainnetwork has been associated with a greater focuson a person’s internal emotional response to outsidestimuli. This suggests that the individuals were relatinginformation to their own thoughts and feelings.While in no way denigrating virtual media, which clearly hasspecific benefits in terms of targeting and interactivity, thestudy does reveal that there is something special about thephysical medium.