Advertising has lost its humanity and its ability to entertain; it has turned sour. This is the challenging starting point of Lemon, a new publication from the IPA published at the cross-industry Eff Week Conference today (15th October), which chronicles the decline in creative effectiveness, identifies why it has happened and provides tangible solutions to reverse it.
According to the 122-page publication, the reasons underlying the crisis relate to the way the brain attends to the world in the digital era. An attentional shift has occurred in business and society; a change in thinking style that has left its mark not just on advertising, but also on popular culture. The same instincts that lie behind short-termism and narrow focus are resulting in work that is flat, abstract, dislocated and devitalised – advertising that doesn’t move people.
Lemon draws on the latest neuroscience research to move the old ideas of the 'left' and 'right' brain out of the realm of pop psychology myths and into their rightful place as major drivers of culture, advertising included.
The new research in Lemon puts the focus firmly back on the work itself. It identifies the elements in advertising which appeal most to the holistic right brain – like metaphor, music and a sense of place - and those which attract the more focused left, like onscreen text, abstract body parts and rapid rhythmic edits.
Analysing 30 years of TV ads, Lemon traces the decline of right-brained elements – and then draws on effectiveness research into modern ads to show that exactly these declining elements are the most effective for brand growth.
Lemon illustrates its ideas using dramatic imagery ranging from the Roman Empire to Modernism, coupled with in-depth examination of modern-day ad campaigns. In its conclusion, it offers a manifesto for producing long-term creative effectiveness.
Says Orlando Wood, Lemon author and chief innovation officer at System 1: “Advertising needs to entertain for commercial gain. When it doesn’t, the whole advertising ecosystem runs to seed; when it does, it unlocks growth and builds reputations. This publication describes how the advertising brain turned sour – how advertising has lost its humanity - and suggests how we might make things right again.
“We now know from new research that the actual divide between the right and left brain is very real; while they don’t do different things, they do and understand things differently. Connecting with audiences requires us to appeal to their right brain. This can only be achieved by freeing our own right brain. In creative development, we must resist our instincts to analyse and devitalise. The future of advertising depends upon it.”
Says Janet Hull OBE, director of marketing strategy, IPA: “Lemon challenges the industry to recognise the creative direction it has taken in the digital era and is designed to open a healthy and productive industry debate. At our best, we have an extraordinary ability to innovate, imagine and create advertising works of art that elevate, expand and transform brand and human experience. We know that creativity is the biggest multiplier of marketing effectiveness. Now is the time to transform our creative culture for the digital era, integrating the best of the old with the best of the new. We look forward to a new golden era of creative invention.”
Commenting on the book, former IPA president and vice-chairman of Ogilvy Rory Sutherland said: “Any book which finds evidence everywhere from Hans Holbein to the Honey Monster is good by me. But this is an extraordinary and wonderful book, with implications that go far beyond advertising and research.”
The hard-copy publication, Lemon, is available to purchase from Amazon (£50) and from the IPA website (£25 for members and £50 for non-members).