Tag adcept

B7 Adcepts – Helping Advertising Agencies Do What They Do Best

Over the past decade, B7 Innovation has worked closely on numerous projects with some of the world’s leading advertising agencies, including BBH, JWT, adam&eveDDB, Wieden + Kennedy & AMVBBO. Involving the agency from the off ensures that their understanding and feel for the brand helps fuel the Adcepts that we create, and also ensures that any angles which they may wish to explore are included. Agencies with whom we’ve worked have told us that our Adcept methodology has helped them in a number of ways:

Firstly, it saves the pain and time of agonising over a brief where everybody has a different opinion. These opinions can all be fed into and evaluated by the Adcept process so the areas of genuine insight can be clearly seen and agreed by all involved. This also means that the advertising agency doesn’t have to waste precious creative time testing strategy.

Another key benefit is that our Adcept methodology results in an unusually precise, focused client advertising brief that is completely imbued with consumer insight – the best possible start to the advertising process. Poor or vague briefing is the bane of most agencies’ lives and a brief of this quality makes the task of creating great advertising much easier.

An additional advantage for the advertising agency is that the communications brief isn’t just consumer insight focused – it has actually been creatively ‘road-tested’ rather than being an academic route that is not creatively fertile. Because Adcepts use the language of brands – advertising – consumers have been reacting to realistic, emotive stimulus rather than to cold concept statements. Winning areas have been explored from multiple angles to isolate the most compelling route in. Additionally, the methodology also highlights ‘areas to avoid’, which prevents creative time and energy being wasted on inappropriate messages or tones.

B7’s Paul Tidmarsh believes that their Adcept methodology makes the work of the advertising agency less stressful, less wasteful and more focused. “That’s why we are regularly referred to clients by some of the best agencies in the business. We help advertising agencies do what they do best – create great advertising.”

5 Reasons why Adcepts Engage our Emotional ‘System 1’ Brain Better than Concept Statements

Recent advances in the understanding of how we make decisions about what we buy have shown that non-conscious, emotional motives are at least as strong as logical, cognitive ones. Our so called ‘System 1’ emotional brains react in a non-conscious manner to brands and ideas in a way that even we ourselves are unaware of. The implications for marketing professionals trying to successfully develop new brands are massive.

When looking at new product or brand extension ideas, consumers need to be persuaded strongly on both rational AND emotional fronts. Currently, the vast majority of innovation research uses stimulus which is only capable of exploring our rational ‘System 2’ brain – the ubiquitous concept statement. But there is an alternative. B7 Innovation’s Adcept methodology not only gives clearer and more precise learning on the rational appeal of an idea, it also gives insights into its non-conscious appeal, something which concept statements are incapable of doing.

Below, B7’s Paul Tidmarsh outlines 5 reasons why Adcepts engage our emotional ‘System 1’ brain better than concept statements.

1. Adcepts are Familiar
Our non-conscious brains are suspicious of unfamiliarity. Few focus group participants have ever seen a concept statement, so showing them in groups provokes a defensive (if non-conscious) reaction. Adcepts, by comparison are familiar. They are written in the everyday language of brands (advertising) allowing respondents to view the content without questioning the format. B7 Innovation uses the same format on all its adcepts to create ‘format blindness’ among participants, ensuring that the idea and not the format, is getting the reaction.

2. Adcepts are Emotional by Nature
Concept statements are simple expressions of what a brand can do and why the consumer should believe it can deliver its promises. They are deliberately unemotional. Adcepts however, being in the style of press advertisements, allow all sorts of emotions and brand personalities to be conveyed, from serious and authoritative, to humorous and mischievous.

3. Adcepts Provoke Fast Reactions
Behavioural science tells us that choices made under time pressure favour our System 1 brains over our System 2 brains – we react more instinctively without dwelling on rational argument. B7 Innovation has a very different methodology than that used with concept statements. Whereas concept statements typically only allow six idea areas to be explored, B7 produces up to 80 Adcepts to be shown in the focus group. These are posted gallery style on the wall and participants are asked to quickly note their favourites, which are then discussed by the group. This forcing of consumers to make quick choices means that Adcepts with strong emotional, non-conscious attractiveness move through to face the more logical scrutiny stage.

4. Adcepts are Holistic
Concept statements are often supported by mood boards which aim to give a visual feel for an associated concept. This separation of the written and visual is discordant for the brain which has to knit together ideas from different fields of vision. By contrast, Adcepts are holistic, all in the same field of vision, with the familiar ‘layout grammar’ of headline, image and supporting text.

5. Adcepts Give both non-conscious & conscious insights
New brands and innovations from existing brands generally need a stronger rational engagement with consumers than existing brands. Consumers need to be told what’s different and better about the new product. This is not enough on its own, however. The fast Adcept selection stage gives vital insights into the crucial associations that the new brand needs to link with if it is to create a positive emotional space in consumers’ System 1 brain.

Why should I use Adcepts? – Client Questions Answered by Paul Tidmarsh

1. What can Adcepts do that concept statements can’t?
Concept statements (often used with mood boards) are of very limited help when trying to develop a new brand, or re-focus an existing one for growth. They are unrealistic, unfamiliar and lacking in emotion. Our Adcepts speak to consumers in the familiar language of brands – advertising – so that they can easily put an idea into the real-world context of the particular market being discussed. Adcepts convey emotion in a way that a cold concept statement can’t and winning theme areas can be explored from multiple functional and emotional angles to give precise insights into the most compelling routes in.

2. Why do you show so many Adcepts to a focus group?

We show up to 80 Adcepts per group which often strikes new clients as very high. There are two reasons why this quantity is so effective. Firstly, it allows respondents to examine a greater number of theme areas than is possible with concept statements, so that no opportunity area is missed. Secondly, having quickly narrowed down the themes it finds most interesting, the group moves on to isolating the most compelling expression of each winning idea area by evaluating multiple angles around the theme, expressed by subtly different Adcept executions. One client described our process as ‘having the breadth of a blunderbuss and the precision of a sniper’s rifle’.

3. Isn’t this what the advertising agency should be doing?
Getting a clear, precise and confident advertising brief is central to creating great advertising. The clarity and richness of insight our Adcept methodology produces ensures buy-in from client and agency alike about what should go into the creative brief. It also means that the agency doesn’t waste creative time exploring strategy. Another advantage of our methodology is that creative areas are ‘road tested’ within the research, so that the advertising creatives have a more informed view of fertile areas to explore.

4. How long does all this take?
Despite the high quality and quantity of the stimulus we produce, a typical project from briefing to agreement of key conclusions takes just six weeks. Many clients have remarked that our process saves them considerable time because we can research many more theme areas than concept statements allow. This means no wrangling within the project team about which areas to exclude, or worse still, trying to force-fit separate ideas into one concept statement. Another time saving benefit is that creative briefs become much more easily written with very little time lost in debate.

5. What’s your track-record?
The B7 Adcept methodology has aided the development of some of the world’s most successful brands. Examples include: Repositioning / communication for Dove in the developing markets and positioning of multiple innovations globally; positioning for several innovations for Flora / Becel in Europe and communications strategy for Unilever spreads in the US; repositioning / communication strategy for Bell’s Whisky, Pimm’s and Archer’s brands worldwide; Positioning of several initiatives for Tesco (e.g. re- launching their .com service and the launch of their first tablet computer).

B7 founder Paul Tidmarsh comments “We have spent 10 years perfecting our Adcept methodology and believe that there is no more effective way to find the compelling insights that drive brand growth. We have never advertised or chased new business because all our work comes from repeat business or referrals.”

Adcepts – More Quantity & More Quality than Concept Statements

The real advantage of B7 Innovation’s Adcept methodology is that it gives not just more quantity than concept statements, it gives much more quality too.

One of the key drawbacks that concept statements have as research stimulus, is that the number of areas that can be explored in a focus group is low. Six concepts is about the limit per group, which means that many potentially strong ideas are never exposed to consumers. Often the themes left out are the more revolutionary ones that can drive the sort of ground-breaking innovation that gives lasting market leadership. Another downside of restricted numbers is that the project team can waste valuable time fighting over which areas to include, or trying to force-fit separate ideas into a single concept statement.

B7’s Adcepts are different. We show up to 80 Adcepts per focus group, allowing many more themes to be explored. Although this number seems extremely high, because ideas areas are grouped, consumers quickly lead us towards those themes that resonate most with them. We find that early within the session, respondents are focusing on approx. 15 Adcepts which they believe have real potential.

The quality advantage that Adcepts hold over concept statements comes from the fact that each of the theme areas which the group expresses interest in is explored from a number of different angles. Subtle difference in tone can be examined, so that a finely nuanced understanding results. This very precise learning about what is most compelling about an idea ensures that a communications brief is extremely precise, something very helpful to the creatives charged with bringing the idea to life.

Adcepts are the most effective way to explore where a brand could go and what it could become. They give a freedom to explore many more areas than concept statements and then give so much more detail and tone on the ideas which offer most potential. B7 founder Paul Tidmarsh says “It’s liking having your cake and eating it too!”

Gordon’s Gin / Tanqueray

Gordon’s Gin


Back in the early 2000s gin in general, and Gordon’s in particular, suffered from associations of middle aged suburbia and golf clubs. Our job was to position Gordon’s as a young fashionable drink and lose its stuffy image. We used Adcepts to scope how the brand could progress without looking like ‘dad dancing in the disco’! This work informed the communication briefs that started the process of re-focusing the brand on a new younger target.


Brand positioning

The brand is a premium upmarket gin, but back in the early 2000s very few had heard of it. Our task was to help define the positioning and work out what were the most motivating values to communicate to widen its appeal.