TRESemmé wanted to go beyond asking what consumers thought by testing whether their unconscious perceptions had changed too.

The haircare specialist had been running an advertising campaign in Look and Marie Claire and wanted to know what impact this had had on readers’ opinions of the brand. Our challenge was to understand if the campaign had improved opinions of TRESemmé on both an unconscious and conscious level.

“Psychologists have shown that common associations create stronger mental heuristics, meaning our reactions are quicker.”

Psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnerman proposed that humans have two ways of processing information: a quick and unconscious way (System 1) and a slow and conscious way (System 2). We conducted an online survey, comparing readers exposed to the activity with non-readers. A variety of questions were posed to explore whether people had a positive opinion of TRESemmé at a System 2 (conscious) level, including how much they agreed with key brand associations. In addition, to test whether people had a positive opinion at a System 1 level, we employed an online Implicit Association Test (IAT). This worked by showing respondents an adjective (e.g. “premium”) for approximately one second and then asking respondents to categorise whether the logo that appeared on screen afterwards was or was not the TRESemmé logo. The theory behind this is that the more strongly respondents associate the adjective with the logo they are shown, the quicker they will be to identify it. Psychologists have shown that common associations create stronger mental heuristics, meaning our reactions are quicker. If we have never seen or thought of an association before (e.g. “cheap” and TRESemmé), it causes a brief cognitive dissonance and thus will take respondents longer to correctly identify the logo. These time differences are very small and so we used software designed to register these accurately. In addition, we optimised the interface for respondents by designing it as in a game format.

The results showed that the campaign had been successful in changing both implicit and explicit perceptions of TRESemmé. Implicitly, there were significant increases in associations around TRESemmé being seen as a “confident” and “aspirational” brand and, explicitly, 89% of respondents agreed that the campaign made them think more positively of the brand – a much higher figure than our benchmark for similar campaigns.


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