Take Note, Samsung Shows How to Blend Right- and Left-Brained Features

The power to work and play



In his new film, Achtung!, Orlando Wood looks at different types of attention and how to attract them.

One thing he looks at is focused attention – the kind of attention people use when they know what they are looking for. (Animals use it too – one way to imagine focused attention is to think about a bird scouring the ground looking for seeds or crumbs of food.)

There are several other kinds of attention, but focused attention is unique. It’s the one type of attention which is governed by the left hemisphere of the brain, with other types, like sustained attention or alertness, being the domain of the right hemisphere. This has major implications for advertising, which tends to make very “left brained” work and neglect the right – thus failing to win attention of the type the right-brain governs.

What has this to do with Samsung’s new ad, which proudly displays the features of the Galaxy Note20? It’s a perfect example of left-brained advertising, with multiple cuts of scene, text on screen, abstracted body parts, and other things which are known to grab the attention of the left brain.

It’s an approach designed to capture focused attention. Samsung is launching a new phone, and its audience includes existing phone owners on the lookout for an upgrade, who want to know what the new Note20 can do. This dynamic style of ad sets out to achieve that.

As Achtung! (and Orlando’s book Lemon) shows, left-brained advertising like this is less likely to generate long-term business impacts. But there is one thing it excels at – direct effects. And we can see how successful the Samsung ad is at this when we look at its scores. Exceptional results in both short-term Spike rating and Brand Fluency – this is an ad designed to drive immediate search and purchase activity, and it is set to succeed in that.

Crucially, though, it doesn’t entirely skimp on emotion either. The features on offer – like an all day battery – fill real consumer needs, and they’re presented in the context of happy people and family communication. So it scores a very good 4.2 Stars as well as its exceptional performance on short-term metrics.

The problem Orlando diagnoses in Lemon and Achtung! Is one of an industry-wide shift to near-total reliance on left-brained ads, which will ultimately harm brands and restrict growth (as well as turning audiences off). But as part of a wider marketing campaign, a well-done ad which looks to capture focused attention and drive sales activation can still be very useful.