DETROIT -- Chevrolet, in a first for General Motors marketing, used neurological monitoring to gauge viewer responses to ads for the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.
The technique, called neuromarketing, was conducted for the redesigned pickup's new ad campaign, which launches Monday night during the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Paul Edwards, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, said the monitoring allowed the brand to "validate or tailor" messaging for the 2019 Silverado. Chevrolet, he said, may use it for future laaunches.
"It was insightful because in many cases it validated what our approach already was in a very, very genuine way because people can't lie or can't say what they think you want them to say," he said Monday morning at a media event near Detroit. "It's the body's response."
Hundreds of pickup and nonpickup owners participated in the neurological focus group, which was conducted by a third party to monitor brain waves and "galvanic skin response" to determine what viewers thought of the ads.
The testing, according to Edwards, helped tailor the messaging but didn't result in "any wholesale changes."
Using neurological monitoring, which costs additional time and money, is a testament to the importance of the redesigned Silverado for Chevrolet, Edwards said.
"Given the stakes that we're playing with here, with the new truck, it made perfect sense to go to that degree," he said.
The Silverado is under increased pressure to retain second place in the full-size pickup market. In the U.S., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Ram brand outsold Silverado in four months during 2018, as Chevy dealt with downtime to retool plants for the redesigned pickup.
Silverado U.S. sales were flat last year at more than 585,000 units, while Ram was up 7.2 percent to nearly 537,000 units in 2018. That's compared with Ford's segment-leading F-series trucks that increased 1.4 percent last year to nearly 910,000 units.
It's unclear how many, if any, other automotive brands have used neurological monitoring to gauge viewer responses of ads. FCA and Ford were not immediately available to comment on such practices.
Neuromarketing is an emerging industry that can be used for far more than commercials.
In 2017, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience, a division of the New York-based information, data and measurement company, demonstrated technology that would monitor a customer's reactions when looking at a vehicle.