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Are Men More Sympathetic Than Women to BP CEO Tony Hayward?

BP's marketing response to the Gulf oil disaster has been an unquestionable failure, thanks in large part to CEO Tony Hayward and his many callous remarks ("I'd like my life back," anyone?). But according to neuromarketing research company Innerscope, men and women don't hate Hayward's halfhearted apologies equally.

Innerscope measured the biometric response (skin response, heart rate, body movement, and breathing) of 54 volunteers while they watched BP's now-infamous apology advertisements. The 27 men and 27 women were all college-educated, but otherwise had nothing in common.

The biometrics, visibile in the video below, reveal that men and women had wildly different biometric responses at two different points during the ad—when Tony Hayward talks about how BP is engaging in the largest environmental response in the country's history, and when the camera zooms in on an apologetic Hayward.

Innerscope was surprised at the divergence between the two genders. "Often if groups come from the same place and have similar information going into something, they wind up engaging in similar manners. In this case,  everyone comes to the test with similar amounts of information, background, and knowledge. They should have similar responses," explains Innerscope president and cofounder Brian Levine.

For Levine, the results highlight men and women's varying responses to problem solving. Research has shown, he says, that men often want to solve problems immediately, while women like to explore problems first. That explains why men might be more sympathetic to Hayward's apology.

It's too late for BP to undo the damage from its marketing campaign (and from all that spilled oil), but Innerscope's results suggest that advertisers should be more careful when crafting disaster response ads.

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Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email