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Emotion Trumps Thinking

transferring creative idea

Advertising is about sales, creativity attracts and engages.

If ideas are everywhere, the key to success is in developing and curating only the best. In this digital world, marketing and advertising has never been more complex.

There are three responses to a piece
of creative - yes, no and WOW!
Wow is the one to aim for."
- Milton Glaser.

Madmen. Martinis. Mischief. Money. The 4M’s that sum up the old view of what Advertising was all about. The day’s of Madmen were very different. Mass media was emerging, markets were increasingly prosperous (and willing to spend,) and the way advertising worked was being tested (or maybe better said as ‘guess’ted’)

This period was a perfect time for innovation. A joyous, intensely risky process, with massive highs (when all goes well) and crushingly depressive lows. Wanamaker's’ famous quote - ‘only half of my advertising works, I just don’t know which half’, coined decades earlier, still held.

Madmen were the days when Creative led.

Advertising is about Selling

By its very nature, advertising has short-term objectives to hit, with a mission to deliver now. Seeds planted that generate sales in 5-years time are nice to have, but the primary measure of success can only be what was happened today.

The foundation to great ads.

chess pieces

There are well-known long-term benefits to anchoring Brand Assets. Good Advertising delivers short-term sales, while building long-term Brand. It is possible (and highly desirable) to have your cake and eat it.

To have it all, the basics need to be set first:

  • Start by putting Brand Plan in play, which sets the direction for what the Brand is, does and will be  - all from the external consumers perspective. It will defined Brand Assets and ideally include a format that objectively curates creative work.
    • The market’s perspective (how your consumers see your brand and the category) provides deep insights into where the opportunities lie and what the limitations may be.
    • Our AMBA BRAND BLOCKS strategy system provides all of that and more.
  • Have an overarching strategy that is clear (know what you are aiming to achieve), as are the tactical objectives for the campaign.
    • Strategies and their associated tactics are context dependent - with a sharp focus on the problem is that needs to be solved.
  • The Ad creative should be developed in tandem with Media thinking. Context, audience and medium can all impact. Collaboration is a key to maximising impact.

We are all Human

People are predictable and consistent in what they do and how they think. While much in our world has changed, especially in how media is accessed and consumed, the underlying behavioural patterns remain the same. We eat, drink, work and play just like before.

A definite change, though, is Human attention span - now measured at just 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in the year 2000. (For comparison, a goldfish is measured at 9). The shift is attributed to the use of devices and the cluttered world in which we now find ourselves.

The story doesn’t stop (or start) with attention span, it’s a good marker for how quickly choices and decisions are being made. The benchmarks today are:

  • 2 seconds to be noticed
    • Grab attention or miss out completely
    • (Nothing tougher, although neuroscience has identified triggers that generate impact)
  • 8 seconds to fascinate
    • Now that you have my attention draw me in or lose me forever.
    • Emotion trumps rational thinking every day.
  • The decision to engage is made by 20 seconds
    • Captivate me, and I’ll stay all day. If I leave, it will be for right reasons, knowing that it’s not for me. Leaving for the right reasons is ok. Missing out completely means lost sales opportunities.
20 seconds
8 seconds
colorful fish

The good news is that your customers or prospects do want to hear from you (it’s true). They might not use those words but they are open to any benefit that solves a problem or will make their life richer. You just have to grab and hold their attention.

Strategy First,
Tactics Follow

post-it notes

The implication that comes from this is that Strategy is being overlooked for sexier tactical activations, which the evidence shows don’t generate growth in value. The question that should be asked, what needs to change?

If you have ever played the Logo Game (a trivial pursuit style board game using ad campaigns and brand logos) there are many things that quickly become apparent: (1) human memory is amazing; (2) we need just very little to trigger memories; (3) recalling and sharing is remarkably easy and can be a lot of fun (at least in this context).

Therein lies the answer. Connect with emotion and be remembered forever.

Adding Complexity are
the Emerging Challenges

group of question marks

Ad-blocking is coming to a browser near you. Google, for all the right reasons, are launching filters that will block ads that don’t meet their ad standards (using the Coalition of Better Ads as a guide). This is a BIG issue, especially if you are a media publisher. “Offending ads" will be blocked, those deemed by Google to annoy website visitors and violate the standards.

The solution is remarkably straight. Create ads that engage the audience, don’t confuse or mislead, with a message that is very clear.  

Matching message to audience in context is the new gold standard. As it always was (until we forgot).

Creating a great Ad

There is a mountain of great content on what constitutes a great ad. We’re not going to go there. Instead, we’ve chosen to focus on how we curate creative thinking to ensure an effective outcome. This is not to be dismissive - inspired creative is genius. But how do you recognise genius?

This is our check list:

  1. Brand assets. Embedded, consistent.

    arrow bullseye

    Brand should be codified to ensure the consistent and continuous use. There is huge power that comes from assets that are distinctive. This is core to delivering long-term benefits. Memory determines what we notice; people are drawn towards the familiar.

    Reinforcing brand assets works to build residual recognition, so even when the message doesn’t resonate with an individual today, the benefit builds. (Just like liquid soaks into chalk).

  2. Creative Impact. Fast, emotive, clear.

    space rocket

    The benchmarks show that we have 2-seconds to be noticed and just 8-seconds to fascinate. This is the role of Creative. During those first 8-seconds the communication can’t be rationally driven, as there isn’t enough time to process logic. Neuroscience has identified triggers that catch attention - emotion leads.

    We are all emotional beings who occasionally think. We filter through clutter and make decisions fast. Rational reasons to engage can be important but they come later in the Journey (like the body copy of the ad or the website or the brochure).

    As Humans, we are looking for quick, sharp messaging. Make me laugh or cry, just don’t leave me feeling nothing.

  3. Aesthetic design. Fascinatingly intriguing.

    magnifying glass

    We all ‘eat with our eyes’. Creativity drives likability. We are neurologically programmed to be attracted by the things we like. Good design also cues product quality.

  4. Connected media. Context.

    a plant with bulb

    You have to reach people before you can influence them. Good ideas can come from anywhere and the power is in the collaboration.

  5. Smart build. Leveraging assets, efficiency.

    How will the concept be executed? This is rarely a long discussion but worthy of ticking the box. It’s often about the budget (can we afford this) but also about leveraging assets.

  6. Intelligent technology. Measure and monitor.

    The consumer takes a multi-step journey before making a buying decision. A good strategic plan will have the journey mapped - from how an Ad attracts attention, to how a website engages, to when (and how) a sales conversion occurs. Category dependent, the clever use of technology can speed the process.

    The only way to drive continual improvement is to measure, share the data and hold everyone accountable. Success comes from not just reviewing the past but using the insights to make a better future.

Emotion trumps Thinking
Emotion trumps Thinking
Emotion trumps Thinking
Creativity that drives likeability makes advertising much more effective. Download our eBook to share the secrets on how to assess and curate creative work.