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Industry Contributor 2 Dec 2019 - 2 min read

Ads aren't working because we've disappeared up our own left brains

By Jules Hall, CEO - The Hallway

Orlando Wood’s recently published and rather excellent book, ‘Lemon. How the advertising brain turned sour, draws on neuroscience, cultural history and advertising research to demonstrate the correlation between the left-brain dominated phase the world is in, and a decline in the effectiveness of advertising.


Key points:

  • Since 2006 there has been a decline in the creativity of advertising. The public (our customers) don’t enjoy the ads they see today as much as they used to. As a result, advertising isn’t building the long term memory structures that drive business growth as much as it used to
  • Wood correlates this shift to a broader culture trend, with the world in a more left-brained (rational) phase
  • But it’s okay, ‘Lemon’ shows us the path to salvation - the creative rules advertising needs to follow to deliver long-term business growth for our clients

It’s a tragic story with a happy ending. Provided we heed the advice.

My Takeout:

The world is lost in a left-brain cycle. We’ve gone rational and a little bit dull. Culture-wide. And advertising effectiveness is suffering as a result.

At Cannes this year Peter Field shared alarming evidence that the “effectiveness multiplier” of modern creativity has dwindled to almost nothing: Today’s best ads don’t have the commercial impact of the best creative ads prior to 2006.

The reasons are complex, and they extend beyond advertising, affected by a broader cultural trend towards left-brain thinking.

Using neuroscience and psychology Wood builds the case for creativity in advertising. The challenge for the industry is to break free from the broader left-brained cultural shackles to generate holistic stories that the Australian public actually likes - and remembers!

Wood shares evidence based advice on how we do this; putting humanity back into our ads and entertaining the Australian public by appealing to their right brains with advertising that elicits happiness, that amuses, that leaves people awestruck and which plays to connection with other people and the wider world.

To be less sciencey about it, we need to be more fun - ‘entertain for commercial gain’ as Wood puts it.

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Jules Hall, CEO

The Hallway

Starting out as a management consultant for Accenture Jules moved into the world of advertising in 2000, taking a job at one of London’s early digital agencies.  After moving to Australia, Jules founded The Hallway in 2007 with a mission to build an advertising agency that could be more relevant, more effective and more interesting.

Together with Creative Partner, Simon Lee, the two have grown The Hallway into one of Australia’s top independent agencies, winning awards around the world for their creativity and effectiveness.

Outside of work, Jules blames his sporting background for his competitive edge. In 1993 he represented Great Britain at the world rowing championships. These days sailing has replaced rowing. He has competed in most of the world’s major ocean races, including four Sydney-Hobarts.

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