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Neuromarketing and unforgettable meetings: An interview with Dr. Carl Marci

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Among the list of high profile business thinkers and advocates appearing at this year’s highly inspiring C2 conference in Montréal, neuroscientist Dr. Carl Marci wowed audiences with his work on the power of commercial and social neuroscience. Tipping his hat to Montréal’s neuroscience history through his work, often quoting the work of McGill University’s Professor Donald Hebb who famously said, “neurons who fire together, wire together,” the city served as a fitting location in which to present his group’s latest results. Through facial coding, biometrics, eye tracking and electroencephalography (EEG), Marci and his team have developed methods to measure our responses to media around us.

We sat down with him for a quick chat in the C2 Press Room, and asked his thoughts on the future of conferences and how best to capture attendees’ attention and create a memorable experience they won’t soon forget.

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Tourisme Montréal: We’re curious about the work you’re doing in the neuro-marketing field, and how meetings and events could be adapted to take advantage of those unconscious ways that we experience things – and what you’ve seen here that’s inspired you.

Dr. Carl Marci: Well, I go to conferences all over the world. I’ve given talks in Singapore, Tokyo, Moscow, Bogota and was just in São Paulo, for conferences big and small. C2 is very unique on a number of levels. I think the one that obviously jumps out is how incredibly orchestrated and choreographed the entire experience is, really for everyone. And I think what’s amazing about that is you almost feel you’re an actor in a play and there’s a certain surreal quality to you.

How does the choreography of an event like this affect people’s thinking and how they experience things on-site?

I was thinking about that and I think part of what that does is actually stimulates creativity in yourself. We know that the brain is a context machine and so the context with which it’s doing its thinking has a lot of influence on that thinking. When you’re surrounded by so much creativity, so many creative elements and so many unusual and novel things, that starts to spark some neurons and creates a kind of energy that I think is kind of contagious. I hope that for me – and for everyone – that it stimulates some new ways of thinking that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

In terms of the installations here, what are you taking with you? What will you remember the most about C2?

Well I’ll tell you, I go in and out of conferences a lot too, this is one that I think I wish I could stay another day. It’s just so cool.

We measure engagement. Engagement with media content and with advertising and we always talk about how you have to hook people to draw their attention. You’ve got to bring in their emotions and you’ve got to leave an impact so it forms a memory trace. I think that what other conferences can learn from is that some of the just really creative novel ways of just stimulating people. Not just to titillate but to encourage new thinking and I think that is truly great.

And then that stage – I’ve been on a lot of stages – it was just amazing. And I’ve been to a few live broadcasts in the States and it felt like that, like wow, they’re choreographing this like it’s live TV. And that was really fun. It got the adrenaline going.

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