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How to Get (and keep) Attention | Wizard’s Roundtable

Johnny Molson

If you don’t get the audience’s attention, your message will not be heard. The concept is simple, but how do you actually do that?

In this episode of The Wizard’s Roundtable, I’m joined by Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer at System 1 Group in London.

His book Lemon and subsequent short film Achtung! outline how we’ve lost customer’s attention over the years, and how to get it back.

Runtime approx 22 mins

Helpful Links:

Addressing the Crisis in Creativity: https://youtu.be/XUXYRf5O5T4

Achtung! https://youtu.be/6RU0WzFkhJg

System 1 Group: https://www.system1group.com

IPA: https://www.ipa.co.uk

TRANSCRIPT

JOHNNY:

Bill Bernbach said, if your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic. David Ogilvy said it takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers, unless your advertising contains a big idea. It will pass like a ship in the night. And you’ve heard us say that we believe entertainment is the currency that will purchase the attention in the minds of a too busy customer. So we all agree that getting attention is important. How do you get it? How do you keep it more importantly? My guest today is Orlando wood. He is the author of a book called Lemon. How the advertising brain turns sour this past fall. He released a film called October at the effectiveness works global conference, and it demonstrated how a conspicuous lack of character place and time could be at the root of the poor performance ad campaigns have been having over the past 10 to 15 years. He is the chief innovation officer at System 1 Group, a firm that among other things measures the emotional content of an ad campaign. And that helps measure potential effectiveness. Now this problem with attention didn’t just occur overnight. It’s been something that has been slowly growing year after year. So where did it start?

ORLANDO:

But I, I think you’d probably have to say that the digital world has something to do with it. You know, we’ve been through enormous changes in the last 15, 20 years in how we do business. Societal changes do by the way, but, but changes in technology which have led to certain things becoming easier and quicker, but at the same time leading to other perhaps unforeseen or unintended, or perhaps even intended consequences such as the speeding up of creative work. So, you know, we used to have perhaps a few weeks to create a campaign maybe longer maybe months. And now it feels as though, you know, you only have days maybe even hours in some cases. So that speeding up of things is, is, you know, and you need time to sort of think and process and

JOHNNY:

Research and all the other things

ORLANDO:

Exactly understand the problem, understand the, you know, what, what you’re truly trying to do and how you, how you relate to your competitors and everything else. So, you know, it takes time to, to make really great work. But also I think it’s led to this ability to do, to, to standardize, you know, so you only need to make one ad. Now, if you can, you know, across lots of geographies. And when you lead to, when you have this sort of standardized global ad, you know, it’s an ad that’s supposed to work everywhere, but in fact probably ends up working nowhere.

JOHNNY:

It’s a good time to be in the template industry. Isn’t it?

ORLANDO:

Quite quiet because you can, because you can’t draw on those local cultural references, you know, you can’t you can’t show people talking or interacting or you know, anywhere you show it has to be pretty generic. So it could, could be sort of vaguely applicable anywhere rather than, you know, showing people in the street in wherever she can’t go or London or wherever else it might be. So, you know, it

JOHNNY:

It loses a sense of humanity…

ORLANDO:

Right. One of the things that, that I talk about in, in my more recent work, ACHTUNG! which I, I, you know, made a short film, I, you know, I talk about the importance of in advertising of character incident and place how they hold attention, how they elicit emotional response and you know, how they’re, that they’re the sort of features that help to drive long and broad effects. And, you know, it was very difficult to almost to find ads today. I mean, there are obviously exceptions that can be described by asking and answering those three questions, you know, who’s involved what happens and where is it set? And those things sort of route us to, to, to where we are to our surroundings. They w they’re what make people, you know, pay attention to things. So yeah, and, and the sense of longing and belonging, you know, is sort of a given way. And, and it’s still there in the general public, but you don’t see it much in advertising.

JOHNNY:

Is there a sense Orlando of which is the chicken and which is the egg, in other words, did the business community say, I want this fast and now, and we need to move, you know, and I don’t want any creativity I want to, I want to, I want a template that I can count on, or did the advertising industry offer it up and say, this is an easier way for us and for you?

ORLANDO:

Well, I think it’s a bit of both, isn’t it? I think clients have obviously embraced this fast, new world. I think they’ve also put a lot of pressures via procurement on, on, on agencies. The big network agencies, I think have you know, reduced costs and trying to improve efficiency and productivity, but at the same time, of course, that leads inevitably to the removal of very senior talent and experienced talent. That’s, that’s, it’s a, it’s a bit of both. And technology is certainly got something to do with it, but I think that there’s a, there’s a been a broader shift in the way that its sort of habits of thinking. And I think you, you see this in, in other periods in history and that’s one of the things I do in lemon is I look at how this is, this is sort of happened before

JOHNNY:

And that’s, and that’s really, yeah, that’s an interesting part, part of lemon where you show, how art has gone from this very organic and maybe incongruent feel to a very flat and, and symmetrical feel. And then back again

ORLANDO:

From these spiral tendrils here, that depict nature, as it sort of is with depth, a bit of asymmetry and a sense of flow towards this flattened devitalized symmetrical and an emphasis on signs and symbols, the vine and the crosses. We go from mosaics of people who were talking to each other in dialogue with depth, with light and shade towards unilateral mosaics, communicating me at you.

JOHNNY:

Are we in a cycle? Does, does it come back?

ORLANDO:

Let’s hope so. I mean, he normally does at some point. I think people, you know, I mean, I taught, of course I explain in the book why, why I think that is drawing on the work of a brilliant scientist psychiatrist, psychologist, and neuropsychologist called Ian McGilchrist, who talks about the two hemispheres of the brain and how they attend to the world. And you know, we’ve had this sort of misguided notion since the sixties that perhaps the left and the right brain might do different things. It’s not so much, they do different things. They do things differently. They’re different modes of attention. The left brain is very narrow and goal-orientated, and it breaks things up into smaller parts. It likes to categorize things, categorize people. It’s very explicit. Things are either truths or lies. I mean, you know, that the obsession with truths and lies and facts, you know, at the moment is, is, is everywhere and a sense of paranoia that we don’t actually know what the truth is.

ORLANDO:

All of this comes with the left brain brain and, and by the way, anger and that lateralizes just to the left breathing to, to, and so people are adopting tra trench dot dogmatic pick positions. Can’t, can’t see the other side. Also, so things were left, left brain brains in a very, very rhythmic mic. So, so like likes rhythm can, I can only be really determined and just discerned and read them to them. And music does it doesn’t have to have a sense sense of, of lift of time or space based or still depth, depth. But the right brain brain is broadened vigilant by contrast in it and its attention. And it, it sees them as the world gold is it really is every everything thing in context, content, Xtend connect can understand the standard gestures. It was intended to negotiation [inaudible] symptoms, you know I suppose the MBN board body did nature of the yeah. And how well we, how we fill it, you know? And it understands to a little live time and some space music and it can, it can, well, wobbly leave it to two opposing thoughts could be, it could be true at the same time, time, time. So, so it can, I can understand and metaphor for humor, all of those things, things that make us guess people, but make us cause humans. Right.

JOHNNY:

And then, and that’s the entry way, way. Right? Right. I mean, that’s, that’s the way to get into, into the brain is

ORLANDO:

That is the way, the way in that is exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

JOHNNY:

Because

ORLANDO:

Big, because there’s the right brain brain presents the present sense that what the world to us, and then the left brain brain Dane tries tries just to unpack it and then, and then re re present it. And it, back back to it, as soon as in a sort of simplified, flat Latin or ordered kind of way.

JOHNNY:

It’s, it’s, it’s, it feels natural. I’m sorry. Sorry to interrupt. Interrupt you if you, yeah,

ORLANDO:

No, no, please do, please do

JOHNNY:

It. It feel feels natural thrill then Ben, for a bit of business or an app or an advertiser to say, say, well, we’ll let let’s logic logic, legally lay this, this argument you might act out like, like we’re like we’re putting together together a doc documentary or something.

ORLANDO:

Yeah, exactly.

JOHNNY:

Yeah. Yeah. But documentaries don’t persuade, wait, that’s, that’s not, that’s not, that’s not their job. And then you, you are almost most leaving too much, much in the hands ends of the consumer to, to put the piece pieces. They just together to

ORLANDO:

[Inaudible] an inherent turned in interest in what you’ve got just to say, Hey, and that actually, actually, there’s another thing, you know, you know, the digital digital world is that it’s enabled us to, to target get a much better, better than we ever, ever could in the past. And with that, that targets getting an ability to target I’ll get comes, Greg, gradually that the kind of, kind of implicit assumptions and that whoever whoever’s looking at whoever’s looking, looking at this is cause he’s going to bring to be NG interest, nested it in this and this cat category. Agree. And then this product you can’t can’t assume that the audience is in Pinterest as it is a gift given, particularly if you’re, if you’re trying to draw in people to pull from, from outside the people who are just in their immediate buying mode, you know, do you know if, if you’re trying to look, look at people to grow, grow your salience and brand brand beyond just that at and, and look, look for longer and broader effects that’s then you need to, you know, relevance isn’t isn’t enough if you have to entertain.

ORLANDO:

And that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s one of the things, things that I think, I think I meant to mentioned in the book

JOHNNY:

And you have to entertain to, to get that, that saliency and see does that, that does that, do I have that right?

ORLANDO:

Because, because, because, you know, you know, I mean, I mean, you know, emotional response does as three, three things, or it orientates, it’s our attention, first of all, or second can be, it helps to put things, things, things in long-term memory. So, so it helps helps with memory or in code code and coding. And thirdly, it, it helps subsystems to make a decision quite quickly at clear, in a few future cars, because it promotes certain brand brands and it makes, makes them more, more sex aliens if we’ve have had some sort of positive, positive experience of them. And it, and it de de emphasizing as these other others that we, we haven’t haven’t had positive experiences dissolved off. So it puts you at the top of the top of the short shortlist list.

JOHNNY:

Yeah. You’ve also also demonstrated straight rated a correlation being between more right focused, focused advertising, and then there for effect effectiveness. And then the IPPA has also also shown that advert advertising campaign have been effective activist. This has been, has been going, going down and down some substantial actually year over year, over year, over year. Is, is it causing us in effect act, is it, does one lead the other other, or are we always such a distant, distracted, A distracted society that, that we aren’t, aren’t taking, taking time, time to absorb all of all these things coming at us?

ORLANDO:

They are certainly interlinking. And the, you know, if you look, you look at Def different data sets over the saving time, time period, some something, you know, it’s, you know, some something thing, it’s something, you know, Colin congruent went across this, the mall and all, and I suppose that’s in around 2005, 2006 X, that’s not sort of time period or two that 2007 that they believe around that. And then, and lemon M and I say to say, 2006 is that’s what, that’s what the other day to see, to suggest, yes, there was this, this change in gender and the, on the one hand creative staff style and on the, in the other, other this risk reduction in effectiveness.

ORLANDO:

And you know, you know, I think you think you, you’ve also got different, different, different, different types of sort of, of, of media buying as well. They’ll go going on, on, on, in this space, in that in that, in that sort of period, everything, everything pinpoint points and send in the same, same dive, direct section, and then all of these, these things, things are happening at the same time. Okay. And when you, when you look at, look at the relationship between what would I call or right brain features caring character to his live time, then play, play cease, low sorts, sorts of things, things, and emotional, and response, bonds, and attention. And you keep CC that they’re there, the thing, things that are you know, drop drive, leaving those, those, those sort of response on suits, suits in PE people.

ORLANDO:

And then they’re precisely to do this, either thing, things that have been disappearing and being replaced by rhythm, and when words short, short, sharp cut cuts and, and you know abstraction and flat patterns,

JOHNNY

I see lot of spinning mobile phone phones, mobile phones like to spin [inaudible] [inaudible]

ORLANDO

well, that’s the other thing, isn’t it, there’s an emphasis on things like things it and understand STEM PE people, or and so, so there’s an emphasis on, on things. And also, so that, there’s this just sort of, sort of from, from [inaudible] that you see a lot, lot in advertising that now, you know, a bit like, like our status now, now Oh. You know looking, looking at each other, so the square on almost almost almost as to stare, like like, like an adversarial stance, you know, you know, that the advertising is taking that, that is extremely, I’ll be off-putting thing.

ORLANDO:

You know, I think it gets a bit, a bit of a warning sign that that all is not, not, not, not well in the world world, you know, the collective mental, mental psyche is, is, is going through through diff difficult dis disorientating, getting time

JOHNNY

we’re due for another, another jazz movement or something.

ORLANDO

Well, let’s hope it, if it’s something as thing as positive as that is

JOHNNY

that yes. That’s, that’s true. True. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We can get a shake, shake those, those snow, snow globe up, up in, in a different front way too. Yeah. So, so if, if, if, if you don’t mind, don’t mind spend, spend a little time on those, those right. Right. Brain brain feed features, you mentioned shouldn’t. Cause because I think, I think that’s, I think that’s really, really important

ORLANDO

Yeah, I talk, I talk, I I’m in my shorthand at the moment is character incident in place because they, they seem to be extremely important in holding attention and generating an emotional response. And they’re what you might describe as storytelling. Although storytelling is, is, is a bit of a wishy-washy word if you ask me and there’s not really much, you know, everyone has a different interpretation of what that means, you know, of going to building tell a story. I, I’m not sure it can in the traditional sense, you know, so character incident place seems pretty close to me to what we mean when we’re talking in audio visual terms about, you know, a story and you know, that that’s, th that’s not, that’s not to mention a number of other things that I talk about in the book in the book Lemon.

ORLANDO:

So sense of live-time, knowing glances between characters, the stuff that the right brain picks up on, you know, that it sort of intuits these implicit and implied things, a wink, a glance, a, you know, body language, facial expressions, accents all of that stuff. That’s about the embodied world and how we understand each other, you know, beyond the words, that’s all very important, a sense of I mean, I talk about music and the book as well, and the importance of that, and the things have become increasingly rhythmic. So very rhythmic beeps, but against these very short, sharp cut, you know ads as opposed to, you know, music against an unfolding drama in a, in a real place or somewhere that approaches the real world, you know, it may not be exact people as well, but it was all over this world.

ORLANDO:

I talk also in the book about the importance of characters and recurring characters, what I call fluent devices. So these a bit like the Geico gecko, I guess, these sort of recurring characters that are used in many years, very successfully, the importance of those for recognition, for emotional response for attention even in digital you know, in feed formats that they’re very good at attracting attention and holding it. And, and also those sorts of that kind of scenarios that are repeated over what we used to call a campaign. So, you know things like Snickers, you’re not you when you’re hungry though, that’s also a fluent device. So these, these things really helpful at driving look broad law long and broad effects, and also reducing price sensitivity. But they’ve been disappearing as I show in the book.

JOHNNY:

And what, what you demonstrate so well to use an overused phrase, it’s simple, but not easy. It’s, you know, w the, the things you’re speaking about there are intuitively the right thing to do. Not necessarily easy to create a characters, create a storyline. but, but Holy cow, it’s so much more powerful.

ORLANDO:

Yeah. Yeah, well, that’s right. And you know, you, don’t, it’s, it’s much more easy to remember as well. And it, it better, easier to notice, easier to remember and actually, you know, important kind of on another level cultural glue that, that, that holds everything together. You know, they’re common reference points that suddenly have sort of disappeared or fallen off the map

JOHNNY:

When you make the argument of thinking long-term, you know, the, the Burnett and field long and short, you gotta have both, but we’re very obsessed with the short term now, what’s, what’s your, what’s your go-to argument, or what is it you describe to business owners or advertisers when you say yes, of course, we need to take care of the short term, but, you know, hold on because you need to be here tomorrow as well.

ORLANDO:

Yeah. Well, there’s those long run broader effects, so ultimately more important and they help the short term activation advertising to work much harder as Peter field has shown. I, I point to some of the evidence in the book Clemen that looks at what happens over a longer time period and the relationship between extra share of voice and share of market gain. And there is this by and large, pretty established relationship between how much you’re spending relative to your size relative to the competition and market share growth the following year. And when you overlay on that, this kind of emotional response to advertising, you get a much stronger and better explanation of market share movements in that following year. So it’s like a, you know, a long-term measure, we’ve got so many short-term measures at the moment that promote a certain kind of advertising that, you know, might drive quick web effects, but it’s not going to do much more than that.

ORLANDO:

And if you’re looking for those longer term, you know, that longer term growth and investors often are, then, you know, you, you need to, you need to think about the kind of work that’s going to generate that emotional response. It’s quality, not just quantity of advertising that matters and quality of advertising can, can be reasonably well explained by some of the features I describe and this mechanistic left-brain advertising, that’s, you know very rhythmic and very, very pretty close up to things. Normally, you know, you’re kind of uncomfortably close to the product. That’s normally perhaps shown out of context with no real background just bits of people and things, no faces, and don’t see full faces. You know, you see just the lips or just the eyes, or just the hands, you know, the left brain likes to break things down in smaller parts, including people. So you, you know, you sit you, that’s what you see a lot of, and it’s, it’s, it’s just tiring wearing an and, and, and disengaging, you know, to have so many things up close without any broader sense of context,

JOHNNY:

If you’d like to learn more about Orlando’s work, you can go System1group.com. And for more information about the IPA, the Institute of the practitioners of advertising that is@ipa.co.uk, and I’m Johnny Molson. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the box below, or you can send me an email, johnnymolson@wizardofads.com. And don’t forget, these episodes are also a podcast that you can listen to just subscribe wherever you get podcasts.

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