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Case #1 – Albert Heijn

The summer commercial of Albert Heijn, the leading supermarket in The Netherlands, is the first one to test in “Neuromarketing & ad effectiveness”. Albert Heijn is known for their high quality commercials. How well-made is this one?

Summary

Albert Heijn’s (AH) Summer Commercial is about a family preparing a barbecue in their backyard. Again, AH has delivered a solid commercial, primarily in relation to its brand awareness. Storytelling, humor, emotional triggers, brand cues; everything runs smooth. Yet, from a promotional perspective there is a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity that could have been tackled by having pre-tested the TVC. Below is the summary of this TVC’s strenghts and weaknesses. The full case is covered in the TVC (Benchmark) Report.

Things Albert Heijn did well 

Albert Heijn TVC case

1. Strong brand cues

AH has created strong brand cues. Neuro video data showed that recognizing the lead actress was one of the most impactful moments of the commercial, as it activated the association with the brand. This scene spiked with positive emotions. Furthermore, the iconic tune and AH’s typical blue colour were perfectly integrated in the TVC to stimulate brand recognition. Peaks in positive emotions (‘joy’) confirmed that this worked out well.

2. Don’t leave me hanging!

Negative feelings (‘frustration’) were aroused when no action was taken when it was expected. This worked well: a perceived disconformt of a smoking BBQ increased attention. As none of the actors acted upon it, a brief peak in frustration occurred. However, thanks to a ‘happy ending’, this emotion converted into joy. It was an intelligent and well-executed subconscious ‘cliffhanger’.

Albert Heijn TVC case
Albert Heijn TVC case

3. Reinforcing the message

Apart from storytelling, another effective strategy that worked well was using reinforcing messages: combining visual, textual and auditory information. In this commercial, the words that were chosen and repeated by a voice-over, solidified the association with Albert Heijn’s brand message.

4. Recurring elements instil brand connections

A clever trick that was applied was the use of recurring elements in separate scenes. When perceived, the subconscious brain establishes connections between these elements. One example of such an element is the father yelling ‘attack!’ in the opening scene (play-fighting with his son) and using these same words in the final scene, implying they were ready to ‘attack’ their meal. It created coherence and a sense of completeness.

Albert Heijn TVC case

Even better if…

So what could have been better? This commercial gave us several interesting insights. The storyline was well-exectued, everyhting seemed to fall into place but the closing scene prevented this TVC to be flawless: Information overload weakened the call to action, something that wouldn’t have been necessary if the video had been pre-tested:

Albert Heijn TVC case

Information overload

When conveying an important, promotional message (i.e. 3+1 for free), one should avoid the psychological effect of information overload. Emotion data showed that the barbecue-offer screen contained too many visuals and information carriers. In general, our brain is incapable of processing that much information at once. This is clearly visible in the scattered eye-tracking heatmap. Viewers missed out on the the call to action, the advertised BBQ offer.

Conclusion

Albert Heijn almost got the best of both worlds with this commercial. Branding-wise, this commercial delivered, however, it is debatable whether it achieved its goals from a performance perspective: drawing customers into the stores to buy the advertised BBQ offers. Emotion data (EEG) and eye-tracking data show that this ‘call to action’ was completely overlooked by the majority of the viewers. In the post-production process, this issue could easily have been tackled by finding more balance in the closing scene (timing, design).

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