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Cancer Research UK was developing a new integrated multi-channel brand campaign using real people in real situations. The intention for the campaign was to provoke a powerful emotional reaction in viewers. Cancer Research UK approached Populus to provide a recommendation on the creative execution to use to this end.


Populus Data Solutions built an online survey that measured emotional diagnostics at an explicit level using an Implicit Response Test (IRT). The test measured the ‘fit’ of each advert and emotion by measuring how quickly each emotion is endorsed for each advert, tapping into System 1 processing.


The implicit methodology allowed Cancer Research UK to bypass rational and conscious deliberation to get at the true underlying opinions of respondents, and assess the advert execution that provoked the most powerful emotional reaction. Thanks to the right imagery being selected during the research process, the campaign went on to receive considerable press attention and was the Guardian Charity Campaign of the Month.