Creativity crisis has created 'flat, abstract, dislocated' ads, IPA book says

IPA has published 'manual' to help industry reverse what it calls a crisis in creative effectiveness.

Creativity crisis: advertisers are ignoring right-brain thinking, book says
Creativity crisis: advertisers are ignoring right-brain thinking, book says

As the old adage goes, we all have a left and right side of the brain – with the right brain commonly thought to process emotion and the left side seeking out reason. But advertisers have been ignoring the importance of right-brain thinking and, as a result, there has been a decline in creative effectiveness, according to a new book.

Lemon, published by the IPA and written by Orlando Wood, chief innovation officer at System1, claims that creativity effectiveness is in crisis and advertising has lost its humanity and ability to entertain. This is, Wood claimed, because advertisers are ignoring the fact that the best advertising finds a balance between concepts that appeal to both sides of the human brain. 

As a society, with views more polarised and attention spans shortened, we have moved towards being more "left-brained", and advertising has mirrored that, he said, and overlooked the right.

The left brain, Wood outlined, has a narrow and literal attention, while the right side has more depth: seeing the world "as it is" with a sense of perspective. Advertising that is creatively effective needs to achieve "hemispheric balance" for lasting effectiveness.

Instead, short-termism and narrow focus are resulting in work that is "flat, abstract, dislocated and devitalised", the book suggests.

"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," Wood said.  

"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."  

Commenting on the book, former IPA president and Ogilvy vice-chairman 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."

Lemon is launched to coincide with the IPA's annual EffWeek, which starts today (Tuesday).

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