After the first three days at the Cannes Lions I’m becoming clear in my conviction that the business we loosely call advertising needs radical change.
Not just in how we work but also in our attitudes and decision making when it comes to creativity.
Consider this: Research has revealed that since 2000 the average attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to 9 seconds. As award-winning creative director Gerry Graf said, “nobody has to watch anything anymore so we need to make them want to watch.”
Chiel’s Peter Klim asserted, “brands need to change to engage”.
And renowned cognitive neuroscientist Dr Itiel Dror observed: “The way you guys work creatively is in the dark ages”.
Dr Dror was referring to the fact that human decision making is always subject to non-rational context and other influences. He suggests that we need to do three things:
1. Make messages into memories. It’s not enough for messages to be noticed, they have to get into the brain and stick.
2. Encode your message in the right part of the brain – the part that controls decision making and behaviour. You’re wasting your time asking people what they think, because they don’t know. You need to care more for how they feel.
3. Tell a relevant story and tell it well. If you give someone a remarkable experience beyond the rational they are far more likely to remember it.
The key point that people tend to forget is that our brains are interested in distinctiveness. So if we continue to produce work that is conventional there’s a good chance it will fail.
This has serious implications for advertisers and their agencies because it means that they need to be braver if they want to increase their advertising ROI. And that often requires a huge leap of faith.
Another area of radical change we need concerns data. I’m not sure I like the word data because it can be inferred that data limits creativity.
If we think about it from the point of view that data enables us to know more about the people we are communicating with, then data analysis becomes critical before we can set a creative direction.
But by doing so, it will almost certainly enable far more powerful creativity because creative work is always better when it is based on something specific and relevant.
There is a rapid pace of change in our industry.
Social media is only ten years old but it has changed the shape of communications. Ten years from now it’s predicted that social media as we know it will not exist in the same form.
But even more frightening is the looming application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our lives.
When Virtual Personal Assistants start to make decisions for us, it will have a significant impact on how marketing works.
Those who embrace and manage change the best will be the ones that succeed.