NS ‘Jongetje’

NS, the Dutch Railways, is the principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. The story of this commercial is focusing on a little boys passion for trains and his sneaky plan to get his family travelling by train.

This commercial is communicating his passion and plan in a very empathic and entertaining way. We investigated, whether viewers reacted to the story in the way it was intended to.

Our Approach

We have setup an online experiment testing the NS commercial within the Netherlands. Through the webcam, we have collected eye tracking, emotion, and heart rate data. The combination of the 3 tells us what people really saw, how they felt about it, and how excited they were while watching the commercial.

Emotion Analysis

The most dominant emotional response from the viewers was happiness. Right from the beginning where the boy is running upstairs to see the train and his joy could be seen, viewers resonated immediately. The happiness curve continues to climb until the very end of the commercial. Various punchlines / key parts during the story were clearly seen and their effect was exactly as intended. Negative emotions were absent throughout the entire commercial.

Eye Tracking Analysis

Most important, the punchlines / key parts of the story need to be seen to induce the intended emotion. If viewers, for example, hadn’t seen that the boy is putting the car keys back into his Mom’s purse, the punchline would have been missed and confusion would’ve occurred rather than happiness. Here is an eye tracking heat map overlay on the parts of the video that were seen at peak happiness responses. The scale goes from blue (low attention) to red (highest attention).

Tracking Excitement

The heart rate monitoring, besides the emotion, reveals a more transient change of excitement. It’s peaks reveal other important moments of the video that had a strong effect onto excitement but didn’t show up as changes in facial expression.


These results directly show that the intended effect of the commercial was achieved. The storyline was clear and concise and most importantly people felt the story. They connected with the little boys passion right from the start on an emotional level.

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