Lemon: Six Things You Should Know About 2019’s Most Important Marketing Book

Orlando Wood’s Lemon is published by The IPA on the 15th October. It’s already received rave reviews from some of the biggest names in advertising and marketing. Here are six things to bring you up to speed on this landmark book.

1. IT’S A RESPONSE TO THE ‘CREATIVITY CRISIS’

At Cannes this year Peter Field presented bombshell evidence that the “effectiveness multiplier” granted by award-winning creativity had dwindled to almost nothing, while work prioritising short-term sales effects was on the rise. Our own Cannes study backed this up, showing a decline in the public appeal of award-winning ads this decade.

Lemon tackles this crisis head-on, pulling together different strands of evidence into declining creativity and looking for their common thread. Hearteningly, it also presents new evidence showing the continued power of high-quality advertising to drive brand growth.

2. IT’S BASED ON THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE

The psychology and neuroscience that underpins Lemon is based on the left-brain/right-brain divide. This is a topic almost everyone thinks they understand – whether they believe in it or consider it a myth! But the reality is more subtle than the crude left=logic/right=feelings dichotomy.

The work of neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master And His Emissary, is at the heart of Orlando’s work in Lemon. McGilchrist draws together the newest science on brain lateralisation to prove that the left and right brain don’t do different things, they merely do things differently. Both sides of the brain, for instance, respond to art. But different kinds of art capture the attention of each hemisphere – the left brain prefers flatter, more abstract or clearly symbolic art; the right appreciates perspective and allusion.

On Friday 18th October in London there’s a screening of a film about McGilchrist’s work and Orlando will be interviewing him afterwards – see here for details.

3. IT DIGS DEEP INTO THE AESTHETICS OF MODERN ADVERTISING

Most books on advertising effectiveness take what you might call a strategists-eye-view. They look at the goals, the media allocation, the strategy, and so on. Lemon has plenty to say about those, but it also pays close attention to the look and feel of modern ads – the stuff audiences actually see.

And with an audience-eye-view it’s possible to see that a lot of modern advertising is really weird – full of rhythmic rapid cuts, obtrusive text, and disconnected scenes which add up to a disorienting and dehumanising experience that might be tailor-made for our left brains.

Lemon shows that these preferences aren’t just a matter of taste – such left-brained elements have a strong impact on effectiveness.

4. IT’S A REFERENCE TO A CLASSIC AD

OK, so why is it called Lemon? One of the things the right brain responds to is homage, pastiche and cultural references – and in true-right brained style the title and cover are a riff on a famous ad, VW’s “Lemon” print ad from 1960. Creatives Adrian Holmes (who wrote the 1985 “Water In Majorca” ad for Heineken) and John O’Driscoll (art director on VW’s UK ads in the 70s and 80s) worked with Orlando to create this homage to a classic.

5. IT DRAWS ON BRAND NEW EFFECTIVENESS WORK

For Lemon, System1 ran two large-scale studies. One looked at ads over time – using British soap opera Coronation Street as a fixed comparison point over 30 years. The other drew on our massive Ad Ratings database, which contains more than 30,000 ads from the last few years, all tested for emotional response and long-term effectiveness.

Without Ad Ratings, the analysis in Lemon would not have been possible. It helped us both validate the link between emotional response and effectiveness and prove the ways in which left- and right-brained elements contribute to the effectiveness of an ad.

6. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT ADVERTISING

Advertising is – or perhaps, used to be – a major part of pop culture. And like any part of pop culture it can both lead and follow cultural trends. The shift to a left-brained outlook which Orlando exposes in Lemon has its echoes in other aspects of modern culture – music, cinema, TV, and daily life – and Lemon offers a broad cultural panorama to support its arguments.

It also goes back in time. If you doubt that the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the Reformation, the French Revolution, Johann Sebastian Bach and John Cage have anything to teach modern marketers, read Lemon and think again!

Lemon is published on October 15th by the IPA. To pre-order the free summary, A Slice Of Lemon, click here.

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