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Who Really Won the Super Bowl? 174

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the cat-scans-meet-scanlines dept.
BartlebyScrivener writes "In the latest development of the new field known as 'neuro marketing,' Marco Iacoboni and his group of researchers at the UCLA Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain responses in a group of subjects while they were watching this year's Super Bowl ads. The findings are reported at Edge: The Third Culture."
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Who Really Won the Super Bowl?

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  • Who Really Won The SuperBowl?

    Why Rupert Murdoch of course...

  • The Referees, that's who. But I don't think that's the question they were asking.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:31PM (#14789857) Journal
      If you RTFA, you'd realize the answer they're trying to find is actually Which advertisers won during the Super Bowl

      SPOILER ALERT
      Who won the Super Bowl ads competition? If a good indicator of a successful ad is activity in brain areas concerned with reward and empathy, two winners seem to be the 'I am going to Disney' ad and the Bud 'office' ad. In contrast, two big floppers seem to be the Bud 'secret fridge' ad and the Aleve ad.
      Here's the Google Video link to all the ads [google.com] so you can decide for yourself.

      Personally, I thought the 'secret fridge' commercial was funny.
      • by HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:43PM (#14789911)
        For me, ALL the advertisers have lost.
        In the two weeks since the SuperBowl, I have not purchased a Hummer, a Cadillac, a web doman from GoDaddy, ate at the Outback Steakhouse or flown on United Airlines.
        • by Karma Farmer (595141) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:53PM (#14790225)
          In the two weeks since the SuperBowl, I have not purchased a Hummer

          I turned into a giant robot and had sex with godzilla.

          Also, I used my company's FedEx account to send human body parts cross country.
        • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:02AM (#14790253) Homepage
          As long as you didn't purchase a Land Rover, a Mercedes, a web domain from RegistryFly, eaten at Applebee's, or flown on American Airlines, then they haven't lost; they just didn't win. Yet.
        • Well, being in Canada, I only saw normal Global ads (as the CRTC had blacked out all American feeds and replaced them with Global rebroadcasts... what a waste of our tax dollars), so I guess the advertisers lost there because I never saw any of them.
          • Actually, Starchoice doesn't black out the american channels. We get the right feed.

            What the CRTC does is ALLOW the distributer some "channel substitution" during similar programs. When they say similar, they mean 90%+ content similar. It's a "right", not a law or an obligation.

            Superbowl Ads, Harry Potter "interstitial interviews", and I'm pretty sure many others, have all been replaced by the Canadian channel having the program.
            What I hate the most is when there's a channel substitution and they "forget"
        • Yes, but have you harmed a small cute dinosaur?
        • Ah, but how much beer have you consumed from Budweiser, Miller, Amstel Light, or Michelobe since that fateful day?
        • "For me, ALL the advertisers have lost. In the two weeks since the SuperBowl, I have not purchased a Hummer, a Cadillac, a web doman from GoDaddy, ate at the Outback Steakhouse or flown on United Airlines."

          Nope, they won.... You remember them. Case and point.
          Infact, you probably still remember the budwiser commercial from 3 or even 5 years ago.
        • The fact that you just named all those BRAND names off the top of your head just told me they did a great job. They're not trying to sell their product to you, they're trying to brand their name/product/etc.
          • Sort of. I remember Bud ads from a decade ago (hell, I remember Rainier ads from when I was a kid), yet I still feel that drinking Bud is like having a robot piss in my mouth. They can't spend enough to get past the fact that it's just bad beer.
          • They're not trying to sell their product to you, they're trying to brand their name/product/etc.

            That is very true. However, I use commercials as a list of who not to buy from. As I have said in postings in the past I don't watch many commercials. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid watching/listening/reading any commercial whether it be on tv, radio or in print.

            That said, there are two companies in particular who advertise in my area who I will never, ever, even if they are the only two companies

        • No way. The fedex caveman commercial and the magic fridge commercial were both awesome.

          That every single other commercial sucked in a way that people from the 1950s would have been embarrassed to watch is, um, mostly coincidental.
      • Really? I thought the secret fridge ad was hilarious. The rest of the ads were boring and unmemorable. I guess I just like the idea of a fridge full of beer poping out of the wall. Or that the dude was getting ripped off. I dunno. It was funny on a few different levels.
        • I found it irritating. If the guys were stealing beers from the magic fridge, the fridge hider guy -- miserly guarding his beer -- would probably notice and not do it anymore. So to me, that ad, while marginally and momentarily funny, presented a logical flaw that led me to despise it.
        • My 11 year old son and 12 year old nephew still talk about that commercial. (They don't buy Budweiser, admittedly...)

          It's probably a poor ad in what it's trying to do, however, in that it doesn't really identify the brand that clearly. It's the "magic fridge" ad, not the "Bud fridge" ad.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The Steelers 12th Man wears stripes.


    • The refereeing wasn't as bad as a lot of people seem to think (not saying it was good in all cases, but some of the decisions people complain about were actually perfectly reasonable). The losing team lost fair and square - they had their chances through the game and they threw them away. The winning team took advantage of some of their chances, and they won. Sour grapes after the game aren't going to change that.

      Of course, the real losers were those people who were looking forward to a good game, because t
      • Not really. ESPN had a poll the day after the game, and the majority (like 70%)from 48 states said the refs threw the game (exceptions being WV and PA). These results are despite the liklyhood that there are way more Steeler fans than Sehawk fans.

        The Seattle 'big chance' plays were pretty much all called back on questionable penalties. And the Pitt big plays were given to them (the qb getting tackled on the 1 yard line and them calling it a TD comes to mind).

        Geez, first time I've discussed sports on Sla

        • Oh, well if the majority of people in an ESPN poll believed it, then it must have been true.

          Which of those questionable penalties would you say were actually bad calls? The blatant and unnecessary pushing off in the endzone directly in front of an official? No question about that one in my mind. The hold that prevented Hasselbeck from becoming extremely closely acquainted with the ground before he threw the ball? Seemed cut and dry to me. Would these calls always be made? Probably not, but you've got to be
        • American Football is a sport ? I thought it was just a bunch of big jesses standing around in body armour for hours on end. Rugby is a sport.
        • "the qb getting tackled on the 1 yard line and them calling it a TD comes to mind"

          Dude, if you watch the play, it's obvious that his arm crossed the goal plane (it's not a line, since it sticks up into space). He was no where near the 1 yard line. If the ball was short of the goal, it was short by less than an inch.

          Part of the problem is that the refs were actually bending over backwards trying to *avoid* penalizing Seattle. For example, Locklear was called for two holds, but actually committed ten. Why
          • Part of the problem is that the refs were actually bending over backwards trying to *avoid* penalizing Seattle

            You must have watched a different game, or you're from PA. That 'bending over backwards' cost Seattle 2 TDs and 161 yards [go.com]. The game I saw Pittsburgh was outplayed in every category except officiating. Less yards, less first downs, less time of possesion, more turnovers. The great Stealer defense gave up almost 400 yards. The officiating kept the Steelers in the game, dispite them being outplaye

        • There was not so much a problem of referies trowing this specific game, but more of the game in general being so abitrary that I really wonder why anyone except lawyer still watch that sport!

          More: http://www.aigarius.com/2006/02/08/superballbowl.h tml [aigarius.com]
    • I agree the fix was in IMHO. The only way to fix games is not players but referees. After decades of watching my team the RAIDERS be the most penalized team in football even I had to agree with my friend that said the ref's are biased even if it's unknowingly. I mean come on the only common denominator is the ref's. Coaches changed,cities changed, players changed the only thing that didn't change was the penalties and the ref's. So after the Superbowl fiasco, I've sworn off football. Next season I'm wasting
    • Actually, I'm not going to comment on the ref's, other than to state my opinion that they made quite a few more bad calls against Seattle than against whoever the other team was. But it always seems like the team I'm rooting for is getting picked on, so I'm going to just assume that it's not the refs, it's me. If only the rest of the sports fans out there could figure that out.

      I find the article interesting as much for the results as for the method. Like my opinion of the calling of the game, I had a differ
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ErikTheRed (162431) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:26PM (#14789831) Homepage
    Considering the quantity of empty calories and assorted forms of alcohol consumed during normal SuperBowl viewing, I'm amazed they find any brain activity at all.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The body is very resilient, instead of just dropping dead it makes its pain known by bashing heads, and yelling, while continuing to show everyone around that beer is bad, by drinking more. Sadly, this is normally seen as normal at such events, so the cries of pain go unnoticed exept by the beer sellers, who gladely sell you more.
    • Considering the quantity of empty calories and assorted forms of alcohol consumed during normal SuperBowl viewing,

      not to mention the fact that the viewers are watching sports...
  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:32PM (#14789858) Homepage Journal
    The Steelers?

    Do I get a prize if I guessed correctly?

    As for measuring "neural response", that doesn't necessarily translate into revenue for advertisers. I'm sure I had a strong neural response when really crappy ads came on. I'm sure I also had a strong neural response to certain beer ads, but that's not going to get them any money since I drink beer only once or twice a year when tailgating.

    There's far better ways for advertisers to measure the success of ad campaigns.
    • The Steelers?

      They were awarded the most points, but the Seahawks were the better team. Handing the Steelers 2 touchdowns was a bit much, don't you think?

      • Karma at risk, oh well.

        No, the Steelers were not "handed" two touchdowns. Yes, there were marginal calls, but only one was truly bad (the chop block). The pushoff, as weak as it was, was still a pushoff and was called as such. The Roethlessberger TD did not have enough video evidence to overturn the call... besides, do you think the Steelers wouldn't have scored on 4th down anyways? The holding call was a tough one too, and I don't think the ref that called it had a good view, but just because fathead John
        • People can complain all they want, but the truth is the officiating wasn't as horrible as everyone says, but it wasn't all that great either.

          It sucked, but the worst thing was that it didn't suck uniformly. When one team gets all the crappy or borderline calls against them, it is a tainted game, no matter who you wanted to win.
          • It sucked, but the worst thing was that it didn't suck uniformly. When one team gets all the crappy or borderline calls against them, it is a tainted game, no matter who you wanted to win.

            Steelers got the calls because they forced the action. The push off in the end zone gave enough of an advantage to the receiver that he was able to create space and catch the ball. In other words, the good play of the defender created the incentive for the Seahawk to commit a penalty. He got caught because he was foo

    • I attended a lecture today by someone who, using fMRI, had discovered (1) a part of the brain whose activity was proportional to the expected outcome of a bet, and (2) a part whose activity was proportional to the distribution of risk on that bet, and (3) the hint that maybe part 1 was actually responding to an economist's UTILITY function rather than the probabilist's expectancy function. [paper in "Science", Dec 9th 2005, pp. 1680-1683]

      When you talk about a blanket "neural response" it doesn't mean anythi
  • how about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dotpavan (829804) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:36PM (#14789877) Homepage
    .. I would like to see the neural response of slashdotters while reading this article, and see if the UCLA team really got their message through :)
    • OMFG that was the most pedantic piece of gibberish I've tried to read in a long time. Too much for my ADD. Can somebody summarize it in one or two sentences?

  • Why not both? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuchsiawonder (574579) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:39PM (#14789891)
    There is a big jump in amygdala activity when the dinosaur crushes the caveman, as shown below. The scene looks funny and has been described as funny by lots of people, but your amygdala still perceives it as threatening, another example of disconnect between verbal reports on ads and brain activity while viewing the ads.

    See, I don't see how there's necessarily a disconnect. So what if there's a threatening image that resonates with a part of the brain? That doesn't mean it can't be funny. Part of being human is having multiple reactions to the same stimulus. Ever ridden a roller coaster? Thrilling and scary at the same time, at least to me. I don't see this as being a disconnect; it's different portions of my self reacting in different ways.

    That being said, the Burger King ad was awful.
    • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yunzil (181064) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:43PM (#14789909) Homepage
      There is a big jump in amygdala activity when the dinosaur crushes the caveman, as shown below. The scene looks funny and has been described as funny by lots of people, but your amygdala still perceives it as threatening, another example of disconnect between verbal reports on ads and brain activity while viewing the ads.


      I had a big jump in brain activity when I saw that, but it's because I was thinking, "Dinosaurs and humans lived millions of years apart, you idiots. >:("

      • I had a big jump in brain activity when I saw that, but it's because I was thinking, "Dinosaurs and humans lived millions of years apart, you idiots. >:("

        [KANSAS MODE ON]

        Of course dinosaurs and humans lived contemporaneously. The dinosaurs all got wiped out in the Flood, though. We've got rocks which have both human and dinosaur footprints in them, and they aren't fake at all, and they proove it! Why do you liberal atheists hate America so much?

        [KANSAS MODE OFF]

      • I had a big jump in brain activity when I saw that, but it's because I was thinking, "Dinosaurs and humans lived millions of years apart, you idiots.

        What makes you think that thought would cause a big jump in brain activity? If that jump occurred in the pedantry region of the brain I might be inclined to believe it, but otherwise I'd err on the side of brain activity being proportional to the sophistication of the process involved.

    • Re:Why not both? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172)
      See, I don't see how there's necessarily a disconnect. So what if there's a threatening image that resonates with a part of the brain? That doesn't mean it can't be funny.

      In fact, they are intimately connected. Remember Mel Brooks' famous explanation of the difference between tragedy and comedy:

      If I stub my toe; that's tragedy.

      If you fall down a manhole and die; that's comedy.

      Perhaps the best joke expression of this the one that ends with the punchline:

      I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun
      • I can't say I agree. Doing stupid mistakes on your own can be quite funny, if nothing else, with some distance to the accident. When someone is really hurt, I think most people stops to find it funny. The difference in movies is that you know that no one was hurt.

        I fell when skiing in a steep slope the other day. I found it more entertaining than my friends seeing the accident. They were more concerned with my health. Personally I knew quite soon that I'd be ok. Obviously it isn't a definitive rule that i
      • Comedy is a threatening situation that gets the other guy, not you, because he's a putz, and you're not, so you experience the vicarious superiority of having survived the threat. No threat, no sense of superiority, no comedy.

        A response to the first guy to respond to you brings up the study that I wanted to bring up that mentions that this is the kind of humor most appreciate by my fellow Americans and by Canadians, but there are other kinds of humor out there.

        Humor that comes from reacting to very confusin
    • I'm not a neuroscientist nor a psychologist nor anyone else who studies the nature of the mind. As someone who enjoys comedy, I would say that laughing is a product of our mechanisms to deal with the threat. There is ancedotal anthropological evidence that suggests that "a sense of humor" is very important in finding a mate for men[Look at any of those lists and sense of humour will be in the top three, I believe it's usually number one]. Why is that? Well my hypothesis would be because humor is a soci
    • I'm actually heartened by just how much utter and complete bunk was in this study. The "Secret Fridge" ad didn't cause much of a reaction even though everyone remembers it? Maybe that doesn't mean that people don't know their own feelings and instad means that their metrics are completely screwed up. "Secret Fridge" was awesome and is only second in my mind to the "Hidden Bud" commercial.

      If this is the state of neuromarketing, then it's going to be a while before we have anything to fear from it.
  • Pop quiz (Score:5, Funny)

    by NiteShaed (315799) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:45PM (#14789921)
    The winner of the 2006 SuperBowl was:
    a) The Pittsburg Steelers
    b) The Seattle Seahawks
    c) Bud Light
    d) CowboyNeal
  • I couldn't tell you who won if my life depended on it, because I don't even know who was playing. I do know that it was played in Detroit, because I live in Michigan, and the local news media (even in other parts of the state) couldn't stop talking about that fact. I don't recall anyone mentioning the Lions, so I assume it was a couple other teams, but I don't follow basketball, so I couldn't name any off the top of my head.
  • Since over half of us Slashdotters don't RTFA, keep in mind they're talking about who won in ADVERTISING.

    And I think I speak for all Slashdotters when I ask: ...what's a Super Bowl?
  • Sure Google preempted my web site with a link to their "Google Video" ads from their homepage (bastards!). But if you want to view the ads in high-bitrate h.264, transcoded from my DirecTV stream, and even download them, Google can't help you. You have to get the spots from my Web site. [tubespot.com]
  • They clearly won the beer competition. They bought up all the beer ad space to silence the competition.
  • ...on advertising on slashdot.

    a) Pro-Microsoft ads on Slashdot suck
    b) Ads on Slashdot suck
    c) I didn't RTFA
    d) Aren't they all ads?
  • Who really cares?
  • After RTFA, especially the analysis of the FedEx ad, I am left with the following alternative hypothesis to the author - maybe it actually IS funny, and maybe the study doesn't really reveal what the author thinks it reveals. Of course, as usual, when someone wants to get up on their soapbox and look all clever and such they get complete lockbrain and ignore evidence that contradicts the hypothesis they are trying to support. Does this remind anyone of any other frequent topics on /.?
    • The author does not say that "Well they said it was funny, but they were really scared."

      Your amygdala is part of your limbic system. The most simple of your emotions come from here: FEar (fight or flight) and pleasure are all that I can think of. What ISN'T mentioned is if the higher-order brain areas are also activated - but I'd hypothesize that they are, since most people percieve it as funny. Your amygdala is still going to be activated - Just take a look at those fMRI photos, and look how small it is. O
  • If you are interested in the history of the public relations and marketing industry and the theory behind modern advertising, you should check out the English documentary "The Century of the Self". You can find a tracker at:

    http://www.chomskytorrents.org/TorrentDetails.php? TorrentID=911 [chomskytorrents.org]

    Freudian psychology has had more of an influence on advertisers then real science.
  • First, if the purpose of a commercial is to get people to buy stuff, then the only way to measure the success of a commercial is to try to determine if the commercial increased actual sales, not if people were excited by the content. For instance, if a car company or department store wanted to promote a sale, the brain activity might not be so important. As long the consumer at some level realized a sale was going on, that would be enough.

    OTOH, the purpose of comercials on the super bowl and other self

  • ok... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dR.fuZZo (187666) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:20AM (#14790777)
    This experiment measured reactions in people's brains as they viewed Super Bowl ads. What it didn't measure, however, was to what extent, if any, the ads changed people's recognition or feeling about the brands they were supposed to be selling.

    An ad could have left a big impact on a person, but done a very poor job of establishing/reinforcing its brand. It would have been more interesting to see an experiment trying to measure if the ads actually did what they were supposed to do.
  • define: surreal

    strange or bizarre.
    http://www.curriculumsupport.nsw.edu.au/litnumsite /Lie/glossary.html [nsw.edu.au]

    maybe I Should just turn off the computer and go for a walk
  • by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Friday February 24, 2006 @05:12AM (#14791247) Homepage Journal
    Allow me to summarize this article for you all:

    We have no detailed understanding of how the brain works, but look at the pretty lights! Some areas of the brain light up for Commericial A and others light up for Commercial B. Wow! What does it mean? Maybe it means that we can predict behavior based on gross neural activation/deactivation patterns... but maybe it doesn't.

    Can we have some more funding now? And, say, I'm thirsty. Who's up for a beer?
    • You forgot part of the article. You need to include "People said one thing, but we think the pretty lights mean something else".

      So the "winners" seemed to be the researchers' preconcieved notions, not what the people *said* when interviewed. The whole experiment must have been done by middle management....

  • Can someone please explain this to a non-American? I hate ads; as soon as they start I zap away (or more likely these days: I skip them), but this sounds like watching the ads during the Superbowl (I gather it's a big sport event?) is almost a bigger event than the Superbowl itself. What the hell?!?! Why would someone want to watch advertisements?
    • Happy to oblige. It's all Steve Jobs' fault.

      Advertising during the Super Bowl was always pricey, since so many American eyeballs would end up following it (when their owners weren't getting beer or visiting the bathroom). But the mad advertising rush really didn't take off until January 1984, with Apple's "Big Brother" add, which aired once, and only once, during the first few minutes of the broadcast.

      That commercial was (and still is) considered one of the best ad campaigns of all time, despite its one

  • I live in Germany and took Monday off so that I could stay up to watch the game in the middle of the night.

    What I thought was kindof interesting, is that the broadcast of the game here was American commercial free. What they did was run spots promoting the carrying network instead, but no commercials.

    Kindof too bad. The Superbowl commercials are usually pretty good.

    Oh well!
  • Clearly it was the researchers who won. They get a bunch of press over the some expensive advertisements paid for by other people. Very smart, those research people.

    I'm not a fan of American football (as opposed to soccer, which the rest of the world calls football), but SuperBowl parties are generally worth attending. So my wife and I went to one. We walked in and asked, "So who do you think will win -- the Knicks or the Blue Jays?"

  • There is a large increase in neural activity in the amygdala when the dinosaur crushes the caveman.

    Fantastic!

  • ...is the person who said "screw football" and did something else! Bah football!
  • by hkb (777908)
    I don't know who won the Super Bowl, or even who played. But!

    I can tell you who doesn't care: me.
  • Superbowl? Didn't know they were still running that. Figured everyone was watching Daytona 500 now.
  • What I find most interesting is that watching a computer animation of a caveman being stomped by a giant dinosaur foot still fires off the "threat-detector" in the amygdala. It would be interesting to see what happens in the amygdala in response to even less realistic "violence," say a Road Runner cartoon.

    Does slapstick humor require amygdala activation to be funny?

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