Talk to the Hand: How Brands Can Connect via Brain-Friendly Experiences

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When was the last time you stopped to talk to someone on the street? Can’t remember? You’re not alone. It’s not that we don’t care; it’s just that we don’t have the time, or the energy. Today’s situation is marked by ‘an abundance of messaging, but a poverty of attention’, which means that people’s available ‘head space’ is in limited supply.

It’s no surprise then that the use of adblocking software has increased by 90% in the last 12 months. We are all of us overloaded – and something has to give. Be it in the digital realm, via an adblocker, or a physical ‘talk to the hand’… if it gets in our way, we instinctively swipe left. We would in the physical world too, if we could.

What does this mean for marketers? How do we avoid the hand action in the first place and get people to actively engage in our experience? At Closer, our focus is on Brain-Friendly Human Brand Experiences.

What do we mean by ‘Brain-Friendly’?

Simply put, communications that stand out, but which are also easy to process. We’ve developed creative principles based on neuroscientific and psychological research, to help us design the most effective experiential campaigns our clients’ brands.

The following are examples of some of these principles in action:

– Visual saliency

Commuters experiencing child like joy with Golden Oreo

It’s estimated that, on average, people need to screen out 95% of the information in an average supermarket just to complete the task of doing their shopping. So, whether a brand activation is in a saturated shopping centre or a busy city location, the chances are that most people are filtering out a lot of their environment.

For that reason, it’s important to consider how well an activity will stand out against this reduced visual focus. Although the human brain is hardwired to detect novelty, we also have a positive bias towards the familiar – so striking a balance is key for experiential campaigns.

We designed our Oreo ‘Wonderfilled’ experience with this in mind. We retained the key brand assets – light blue colour, familiar Oreo cookie design – while adding fresh campaign assets – the rainbow-coloured slide and the giant Golden Oreo at the end.

– Sound is a hotline to emotion


Given that most people are visually bombarded when they’re out and about, sound presents an opportunity to cut through – especially as it is said to account for 10-30% of an ad’s effectiveness.

For our ‘Good Mornings’ experience for belVita breakfast biscuits, we applied this thinking. We had a pianist performing cheerful morning music at our city centre locations, while samples were distributed to curious passers-by.

– Contextual relevance


Context, expectation and already-held memories all influence where people focus their attention, and how we perceive and interpret what we’re seeing. For this reason, understanding the context in which your audience is positioned is essential for effective experiential.

Our Tough Mudder activity for Volvic was specifically created with the context of the exhausted participant in mind. We knew that, at the end of the course, the last thing anyone would want was another obstacle – and that a hot tub filled with ‘volcanicity’ would float a lot more boats.

As the digital world is set to become ever more saturated and people’s attention increasingly fleeting, we believe that real-world experiences will play an even more critical role for brand communications in the future – provided you don’t just get the hand, of course.