cognitive marketing

Cognitive Marketing: What It Is and How Digital Marketers Use It

What was the last ad that got you thinking? What was the last ad that you remember going viral? For me, it was the throw like a girl campaign of 2014. The ad hit us all in a way that we could relate to. It brought up issues of gender disparity, the innocence and potential that children have, how society moulds boys and girls differently – and encouraged adults to remember the potential and self confidence they had lost along the way and make use of it – reclaiming the phrase “like a girl.” Powerful stuff.

Beyond being a powerful ad, this is also a great example of cognitive marketing.

The brand that made the ad, Always, did a different play on their traditional positioning: a product that helped women feel more self-confident on their most trying days of the month. Instead, they got to the root of why women feel less confident as adults. Studies by the American Pychological Association showed that

Girls’ self-esteem drops twice as much than boys’ during puberty. Moreover, women never regain the pre-puberty level of self-esteem.”

cognitive marketing

This put the team at Leo Burnett to work, building a campaign that would try to reduce that drop in self-esteem even by the smallest amount to make a difference to women everywhere and more importantly: to shake up anyone who had ever used the phrase “like a girl” as an insult.

The results?

  • 90m+ views; number two viral video globally.
  • 1100+ earned-media placements and 4.4bn+ media impressions in the first three months.
  • Always Twitter followers tripled in the first three months; Always YouTube Channel subscribers grew 4339%
  • 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months, including many celebrities.
    Higher-than-average lift in brand preference; claimed purchase intent grew more than 50% among our target.
  • In a study conducted in December 2014, almost 70% of women and 60% of men claimed that “The video changed my perception of the phrase ‘like a girl'”.



What is Cognitive Marketing?

Cognitive Marketing is a way to use the brain’s ability to think about itself as a way to form a connection with a customer and create brand loyalty and conversions. As Manas Chowdhury puts it elegantly in his article on ‘How Cognitive Marketing Is Changing The Digital World?

Our constantly developing society depends on advertising human needs. Digital marketing, by design, is a chance to present answers for unaddressed issues, or repeating current solutions so issues are all the more alluringly understood. “

The jist? Go after what is on people’s minds already and address it positively. Be inspiring, talking about current issues and somewhere in the midst of all this: position your brand.

Why Will AI will take Cognitive Marketing to the Next Level?

The power that Artificial Intelligence brings to the world of Cognitive Marketing is huge. Advertisers and marketers no longer have to rely on older, inconsistent data and target a vague audience. They now have the power to examine vast quantities of data, identify a target audience and the key issues that could be addressed to that audience – and best of all – they have a variety of channels to use to distribute their campaigns so that it reaches the right person at the right time.

One brand that has always been ahead of the cognitive marketing game is Dove. Their ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign from 2013 has stayed etched in viewer’s minds and received more than 67 million views (and counting) on Youtube alone.

cognitive marketing dove

This year, Dove collaborated with the Cognitive Marketing firm Opentopic and IBM’s Watson engine to create a campaign that took things to the next level. The #MyBeautyMySay campaign aimed to tackle the way the Media portrayed female athletes – and was launched exactly around the time of the Olympics, when social media was abuzz with discussions about the subject.


With IBM’s Watson, Opentopic used Artificial Intelligence elements like NLP (Natural Language Processing) Speech-to-text and Taxonomy capabilities to analyze media mentions from 300,000+ daily sources and score the relevancy of each mention for 5 defined categories: Hair, Body, Age, Clothes, Beauty.

The team also used concept expansion and sentiment analysis to understand media mentions that talk specifically about female athletes with a negative sentiment. With the right training, Watson found the team the results they were looking for to make a powerful statement and case.

These are just a few applications that brands can experiment with, using data across social channels and the internet. Technologies such as machine speech recognition will take this to the next level – using data from channels such as Youtube, Snapchat and Instagram for starters. Getting to the bottom of the data and understanding your audience is the key to creating great cognitive marketing campaigns that make an impression. Get in touch with us if you’re thinking of building one!


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