Method to the madness: making ads #likeaboss

Method to madness: making ads #likeaboss

Our Airtasker campaign has exceeded all expectations.
But how? Is there method to the madness or was it blind luck?

We have a unique approach at UDKU. We feed insight from the decision sciences into the creative process. Why? Gerard Zaltman, professor Harvard business asserts, “95 of purchasing decisions are made with the subconscious”.

Within the past 10 years we’ve learnt more about the brain than ever before. The brain takes a lot of energy to run. Like all things that take a lot of energy, we like to find shortcuts. The decision sciences have uncovered a lot of these shortcuts so that we can better predict outcomes. So, we use the understanding of these shortcuts to help guide the creative.


Emotional vs Rational ad construct

One of our starting points was to look at what emotions to target. We turned to scientific research to guide the way. Firstly, emotionally based ads outperform rational ads on every single business metric (IPA study). Secondly, content that successfully elicits hilarity is the most highly shared (Dr Karen Nelson-Field). Pursuing humour is a high-risk, high-reward strategy as it can fall flat. Lucky we have a strong creative team!


Attention Hijacking

It’s really hard to create work that cuts through. Even more so given Airtasker was a relatively unknown brand. However, we had a couple of tricks up our sleeve. Did you notice that the point of the ad with the highest amount of energy is straight after the completion of the task? Our brains release dopamine as a reward whenever we complete a task. We aligned the highest point of energy in the ad, with this significant moment in time. A sound effect is used to heighten tension before introducing music for the first time. The tagline that encapsulates the emotion, #likeaboss, pulsates to draw attention. We also utilise dynamic imagery by showing the characters dancing. The multi-sensory technique ensures we hijack attention.

Brand Engagement

Overt branding vs subtlety is an age old battle. We utilised a combination of techniques based on the work from Professor Gemma Calvert to draw attention to the branding. The opening shot features an individual with a voiceover “This is Airtasker”. This interrupts the brain due to the error in information as the brain expects to hear a person’s name introduced. Our brains constantly try to predict outcomes from information collected every second. When the prediction is wrong the brain pays more attention to correct it.


Memory Recall

Too many times we see advertising that is engaging, but where the brand name itself is lost. That’s not effective advertising.  Engaging two senses simultaneously has been proven to enhance memory recall.  We combined showing the Airtasker logo whilst the voiceover reads the brand name, knowing this would aid recall.  Studies have also shown that repeating the branding 4 times in an ad enhances recall further. By featuring a branded app screen, and workers wearing the Airtasker shirt we were able to seamlessly weave the brand into the story repeatedly to achieve 4 repetitions.


Trust is vital for an unfamiliar brand in a new category. We countered this in the opening frame with Jacinta and Cynthia smiling. Smiling fires mirror neurons in our brain.  Our brain translates that into feelings of trust and positivity.

Get in touch to understand how you can leverage the insight from neuroscience and behavioural economics to benefit your brand.


By Arron Child, 8th December 2016

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