Neuromarketing World Forum 2015: ‘We are hungry for this now’

The Neuromarketing World Forum 2015 (#NMWF), celebrated in Barcelona on 25th to 27th March, was a great event for several reasons. First of all it was in my hometown, and secondly because the event was talking about my favorites topics: neuroscience and creativity with my dear colleagues.


Why the title ‘We are hungry for this (neuro) NOW’? This is the last comment made by one of the clients who attended the conference. She spent the 3 days with us listening and sharing views; we may have left her with more questions, but I’m certain it gave her food for thought. I think this sentence nicely highlights, in a provocative tone, that clients not only now feel ready for neuroscience research, but that they want solutions and actionable insights, not just nice academic talks. At Walnut Unlimited, we are certainly able to translate our findings into insights that clients, planners and creatives can act on. We understand that they are eager to harness the benefits of neuroscience and we need have the right solution in place! A call to action that should inspire our mission; we need to move forward providing solutions which address business issues and show the added value of our techniques.



The chosen topic this year: ‘Understanding creativity’ was a great subject to discuss, for many obvious reasons. a) Marketing and advertising all start with an idea and a creative concept, b) brand engagement is still a hot topic for all marketers. Having a better understanding of why some ideas are successful, will enable us to demonstrate the value of neuro in the whole creative process. As neuro consultants our aim should be to fuel creativity and understand how we can engage people.

Creativity is based on emotion. All practitioners at the forum provided strong evidence about how we can trigger people’s emotions. Across the 3 days, we heard common themes including some executional values such as the importance of close ups of faces or with direct gaze, the use of storytelling, the role of humour, the power of sounds and the role of branding, etc. It was emphasized that these are becoming some of the key components of successful communications.

One thing is now clear, creative emotional ads are more effective and they work extremely well even if people do not recognise its effects. In fact, Dr. Heath says “the more you like an ad, the less attention you pay” breaking all linear thinking models that have been unsuccessfully trying to explain how advertising works.

The other insight agreed upon was around the definition of what we mean by emotionally engaging adverts. What do these adverts have in common? What type of cognitive and emotional processing is involved? It is all about memory, emotion, reward and personal relevance. It might sound quite obvious, but now it has been scientifically proven that what all great planners and creative people have been always saying about emotional communication is true, but only neuro has been able to quantify these unconscious processing.




 Human marketing is important in consumer neuroscience

Another good contribution that made me reflect was an idea given by an ad man, Wim Ubachs. The central point he made was that neuromarketing itself needed an advertising campaign as the way that neuro has been positioning so far is not quite right and actually neuromarketing fundamentals have been always the pillars and the beliefs from great thinkers such as William Bernbach . Emotion governs our behaviour…
Our opportunity as researchers and consultants is to understand how people feel and what instincts dominate every action; this is the way we will be able to influence behaviour.

For Ubachs ‘Neuromarketing is actually HUMAN marketing, better marketing with knowledge about human beings’ and I believe this is the way that we should position ourselves. We do marketing differently because we base our knowledge on a deep understanding of human beings and we are certain we can help to create more intuitive advertising.

I concurred with the views of most of attendees who said that our industry is on the right track. Neuromarketing is here to stay and will become mainstream only if we are able to complement it with other techniques; collaboration is key as it is not all about unconscious. Surveys might not give the granularity that neuro does, but they still have an important role to play. Emotion and reason work together, they are entrenched.

Thanks to those how attended my workshop at the event (Muchas gracias!), thanks again for the beautiful flowers received from the thoughtful Salesbrain team, the lovely presents from NMSBA angels and all their hard work for our community, and indeed, my dearest Neurohm team and all their work on the NAS initiative…all helped to ensure I will not forget my time at the Neuromarketing World Forum 2015.

See you all in Dubai next year! I can’t wait!

All the best,

Cristina de Balanzo
The Main Nut

This blog article originates from the Walnut Unlimited website, our neuroscience consultancy

Picture 1: William Bernbach quote – Wim Ubachs started his story with this quote from William Bernbach, the same I used in the front page of my PhD thesis talking precisely about advertising effectiveness and its relationship with emotions

Picture 2 & 3: NSMBA local chairs who attended. I am proud local chair of the UK

 Conference group 1 Walnut Unlimited

 Conference group 2 Walnut Unlimited

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Cristina De Balanzó
01962 842211
Article date - 17/04/2015
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Welcome to Walnut Unlimited: The human understanding agency.

Marketing Sciences Unlimited has evolved into Walnut Unlimited: The human understanding agency. At the heart of our proposition is a single concept – human understanding –underpinned with no-nonsense science to generate purposeful insights.

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