Press Release: Look out! Advertising’s effectiveness problem is staring us in the face, reveals new IPA publication from Orlando Wood

To create effective and memorable advertising that builds brands, the industry must capture the ‘broad-beam’ attention of audiences; to achieve this the industry must shift its attentional plane – it must look out. This is the rallying cry made by Orlando Wood for his new IPA publication, Look Out, published today at EffWorks 2021, that provides evidence, guidance and inspiration to help grow brands in a technologically-disrupted world.

In this extensive new volume, which follows his much revered Lemon, Wood draws further on the work of psychiatrist and neuropsychologist Iain McGilchrist, and traces in art and culture an ‘inwards turn’ in the periods that follow technological change. Through this investigation, he reveals how society’s attention has once again narrowed in the digital age – something Wood describes through an analysis of the stare which, he outlines, is detrimental to culture, society and advertising itself.

Wood explains that in advertising a ‘stare that coerces is replacing a look that caresses.’ According to Wood, the stare suggests a rigidity is taking hold in culture; it is suggestive of both fear and an adversarial stance. He shows how emotional expressivity is being lost in the face, how movement has given way to fixity, how directness reigns over the implicit, and rhythm over music. He also shows how advertising isn’t as funny as it used to be, which reflects a broader loss of humour in culture. Humour pokes fun at rigidity – keeps it in check – and when it disappears, he explains, we need to be concerned.

In terms of its implications for advertising, the book, described as ‘an advertising guide for a world that’s turning inwards’ sets out a number of learnings.

Lessons from Look Out

· Brand-building advertising will become more important in a technologically-disrupted world, not less. Yet there are signs of both a lack of confidence and experience in the development of brand-building advertising today.

· There are two concepts of attention: ‘broad beam’ and ‘narrow beam’ which reflect the two ways in which advertising works. In the brain, broad-beam attention comes first and is associated with the right hemisphere, which passes information to the left hemisphere to bring narrow-beam attention to bear on the object of interest. Advertisers need to focus their efforts on capturing broad-beam attention for broad-reach brand building; narrow-beam attention is the preserve of targeted activation advertising. The type of attention determines the creative style.

· Features of advertising that appeal to the outward-looking right-hemisphere of the brain map to broad and lasting business effects, while features associated with the focused attention of the left-hemisphere of the brain map to direct effects. To create effective brand building that establishes salience and trust and so market share and profit gain, Wood shows, we need to capture the ‘broad-beam’ attention of a broad audience.

· Look out explores how to hold attention and elicit an emotional response in both TV and online video advertising, examines how we might create broad and long effects in online video, and describes the kind of research measures that indicate broad and lasting effects.

· It also provides guidance on the types of approaches needed for brand building advertising: through an appreciation of human uniqueness, movement, connection, character, humour, music and colour.

Says Wood: “In a technologically-disrupted world, knowing how to create advertising for ‘broad-beam’ attention – in other words, brand-building advertising – will become more important not less, because many brands will find that their physical presence, providing mental availability and a barrier to entry, is reduced. This means creating advertising with wit, charm and human vitality. And in a time of heightened anxiety, detachment and enmity, what could be more wonderful than that?”

Says effectiveness expert and marketing consultant Peter Field, “If Orlando’s last book, Lemon, was the wake-up call for those who champion effectiveness, then Look Out is the playbook for rebuilding the effectiveness that advertising has lost over the last decade. There is value for all who work with advertising in this book, whether at the creative end or the hard business end. Ever the polymath, Orlando vividly illustrates why an outward looking mind is vital to counterbalance the narrow perspectives of modern advertising that have robbed it of its vitality.”

Look Out author Orlando Wood will also be discussing the findings of his book at the System 1 webinar on Thursday 11th November.

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