Picking Brains (and Lemons) with Orlando Wood

Higher Order

Truth Collective Truth CollectiveMar 1, 2021


When life gives you Lemon., you squeeze every bit of it.

Have you heard? Planner Parley had the pleasure of chatting with Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer at System1 Group in London, and author of the excellent Lemon. How the advertising brain turned sour. If you haven’t had the time to give it a listen, don’t worry. We’ve squeezed a few fresh insights from the conversation below:

The Brainy Stuff

We want to kick off with a quick explanation of the two systems of thought, System 1 and System 2. The concepts were first introduced by Daniel Kahneman, author of the (excellent) book Thinking, Fast and Slow. System 1 is the type of thought response that’s fast, intuitive, and emotional. System 2 is related to a slower response that’s more rational. Orlando explained that his company, System1 Group, is interested in learning about people’s emotional reactions to advertising, focusing on three mental shortcuts: fame, feeling, and fluency. Fame is how quickly a brand comes to mind. Feeling is how a brand makes you feel. And fluency is related to how quickly people recognize a brand by its symbols.

Orlando also talks about the ideas of the left- and the right-brain. While the myth that people are either right- or left-brained has been debunked, he explains how they work together in different ways. The left-brain is very goal-oriented, almost shortsighted, while the right-brain is more aware of the world around it and makes connections between various dots. According to Orlando, advertising has become too left-brain-centric, missing out on deeper human connections and the little metaphors that help us relate to ads.

From Sour to Sweet

It’s hard to point to the exact moment when advertising turned sour, but we can agree it’s been gradually becoming less palatable. Looking back 15 or 20 years, the most effective ads all had something in common: They were very distinctive. Then ads started to show more left-brain features: fast cuts, repetition, and less human interaction. The result is that most of the ads today, at least in the US and UK, rank at the bottom of emotional response. And that sucks because emotional reaction leads to better business results and helps build brand recognition in the long term.

Emotion ≠ Sentimentalism

Not all emotional advertising has to make you cry or feel all warm inside. There’s a range of emotional responses you can aim for, from laughs to tears to surprise.

One thing you can do to ensure your ads get an emotional response is to see if they have the three following features: character, incident, and place.

“Character” is the “who’s doing what.” “Incident” is the “what’s happening.” And “place” is self-descriptive, “where it’s happening,” something easily recognizable. These three can help keep your advertising human, relatable, likable, and actionable.

The brief is dead. Long live the brief!

No, the brief is not really dead. It’s just broken. One way to fix it is to transform the brief into briefing: a conversational brief that sparks ideas – that may or may not live within the restraints of a Word doc. That exchange of ideas between planners and creatives is where things are. For once, more talk, please!

For more refreshing ideas like these, make sure to check out this episode and don’t forget to subscribe to Planner Parley. You won’t regret it.

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