How Superbrands are Provoking Religious Fervour

By Neurosense Ltd, PRNE
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

LONDON, June 1, 2011 -

In the current BBC3 Series, "Secrets of the Superbrands", presenter Alex
and his team interviewed Professor Gemma Calvert, a neuroscientist and
MD of Neurosense ( while she scanned the brain of
a self-confessed Apple brand fan. Using a machine that is able to look inside
the brain, the programme makers wanted to find out whether there was
something specifically going on in the brain when the fan, another Alex, saw
images of Apple products. What Professor Calvert found may help to explain
how the big superbrands are able to build such a fanatical following. The
Neurosense team found that when Alex, who loves and works with the brand ,
viewed images of Apple products compared to competitor products or unbranded
mobile phones, laptops, desktops and tablets, activity was seen in the same
brain areas that respond to religious icons. It seems therefore, that the
awe-inspiring nature of some of these new brands actually instils some form
of religious feelings and emotions in people like Alex.

Professor Calvert said "The case study on our Apple fan is part of a
larger brain imaging study that Neurosense has carried out on high profile
superbrands. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging or FMRI in short,
to scan people who either held strong religious beliefs, were fanatical about
sports or did not fulfil either criteria. First, we identified brain areas
participating in the experience of religious belief by comparing the brain
activity generated when these individuals viewed images of religious leaders
(e.g. Mother Theresa, the Pope) or objects (churches, rosary beads, crosses),
compared to sporting heroes (e.g. David Beckham, Lewis Hamilton), and images
(the FA cup, the Olympic rings). The brain areas which were activated to a
greater extent when the religious images were viewed included areas involved
in meaning and memory, attention and decision making and an area important
for self-representation, emotional associations and reward. Interestingly,
many of these same areas were also activated by our sporting fanatics when
they viewed sporting images - albeit to a lesser extent. Our non-spiritual
and non-sporting control group did not show any differences in brain activity
when viewing any of these religious or sporting images compared to looking at

Next, all our respondents were scanned while viewing images and logos
associated with the big superbrands (e.g. Apple, Rolex, BMW, Coca Cola) or
when viewing brands which have developed negative connotations in consumer's
minds. Intriguingly, as with our Apple fanatic filmed for the BBC, our sample
of respondents all activated a similar pattern of brain response when good
brands were compared to bad, as that seen when religious believers viewed
religious images, or when sports fanatics viewed their sporting heroes. Of
course, Alex is an extreme case of brand fanatic - and what we see is that
his activation to images of the Apple brand produces the same brain images
that our group study picked up in response to religious or sporting images
and the leading global superbrands."

Professor Calvert continued "Developers of new and existing brands are
already taking these findings into account and are using specialists like
ourselves to measure just how well their attempts are succeeding to
manufacture a sense of awe into their products before they are launched. With
as many as 8 out of 10 new products failing the cost of failure for a global
brand is enormous if it gets it wrong."

It's not difficult to see why more and more companies are using
neuromarketing to help them with the design, marketing and sales of their
services and products.

Note to editors:

Neurosense specialise in using modern scientific research technologies
that go straight to the powerhouse of thought and emotion - the human brain.

Using applied neuroscience to see inside the consumer's mind, they
provide leading marketers and public sector clients with accurate and
actionable insights into their customer's cognitive engagement and emotional

Established in 1999, the team have over ten years experience providing
neuroscientific research services worldwide to a broad range of international
companies across multiple industry sectors including advertising, media and
broadcasters, pharmaceutical, consumer packaged goods, flavours and
fragrances, food and beverage, and financial services.

For further information or interviews with Professor Gemma Calvert, Founder and Managing Director of Neurosense Ltd, please contact her on, Office: +44(0)207-100-7320 Mobile: +44(0)7720591743 Email: gemma.calvert at, Visual on request from Diana Read, dianajervisread at

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