Is The Right Side of Your Brain Full of Ads -- Or The Left?

I was reading one of those self-funded "studies" (which, SURPRISE, revealed findings that benefited those who paid for the study) that said "health food, coffee and hospitality brands advertising ... had a big impact on the detail-oriented left-side of the brain. However, ecommerce and consumer electronics brands resonated with the right side of the brain."

Now, I know that one side of the brain is verbal and analytical and the other is nonverbal and intuitive. One of them is supposed to house creativity more than the other, but I forget which is which. So I am not sure how I am supposed to react to these stunning findings about which ad categories affect which half of my brain.
Since I don't drink coffee and my idea of health food is pizza without the extra cheese, does that mean those ads still rattle around my left brain?

And I don't even know what a "hospitality brand" is. Is it like those pineapples Southerners put on their front door knockers that are said to indicate the inhabitants are hospitable? Even to Trump canvassers (not too soon to start thinking about reelection, it appears) and Mormon missionaries?  Moreover, what if these landed in the right side of my brain? Will I start limping or shuddering uncontrollably? Will I suddenly start liking kale and Jack Black movies? This is really worrying me, although I am not sure which side of my brain is concerned.

According to the study, ecommerce and consumer electronics brands resonated with the right side of my brain. Now, you hear really hip, self-important people toss "right brain" around all the time, especially after the fourth bottle of wine has been cracked at dinner parties. It’s code, I guess, for creative, curious and intuitive, which I think describes about 99% of the people in the ad industry (although I know a few who are about as intuitive as a pillar of salt — note right-brain biblical reference).

So why would ecommerce and consumer electronics brands — which often create the most mundane of ads, where the picture or video contributes little and the cost, dimensions and warranty play outsized roles — appeal to my "creative" side?  The most creative thing I do with electronics is to try to get the floor guy at Best Buy to understand that yes, indeed, the price match I am holding on my phone is the identical model as the one he is asking $75 more for.

Although when I show up at the front door with a big new flat screen, the words of surprise could only come from my wife's right brain, because she is digging deep for euphemisms for "useless twit."

I wonder if my right brain and left brain get along. I mean, does the right side call the left side a nerd and give it wedgies when it thinks I am not looking? Does the left brain dress in Goth and accuse the right side of being a privileged white guy?

I guess only a self-funded study will help.

5 comments about "Is The Right Side of Your Brain Full of Ads -- Or The Left?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 24, 2017 at 8:48 a.m.

    Brain wave research has been around for decades featuring tantalizing tidbits about which side of the brain responds better to ads and other really sexy sounding stuff. The problem has beeen that promoters of this kind of research are unable to provide sufficient normative and cause and effect data to allow potential users to interpret the information in a real world context. Hopefully, this failure will be appreciated by the latest crop of research hopefulls as I believe that there is real potential for this type of investigation if it is coupled with other forms of response indicators and, ultimately, with sales.

  2. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, February 24, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.

    Perhaps some thought should be given to how consumers feel about having their brains mapped in order to more effectively sell them things they may or may not want. Just an idea...

  3. John Grono from GAP Research replied, February 24, 2017 at 6:21 p.m.

    George, the thing is that like hearts, eyes and lungs, brains and memory basically work in the same way in everyone.

    You can conduct research on very small samples that can safely be extrapoltaed to entire populations.

    For example, to create our OOH audience measurement system (MOVE) we wanted to report on the Likelihood-To-See (LTS) a sign as opposed to the Opportunity-To-See (OTS) a sign.   It's one thing being in the vicinity, another to actual see and fix your gaze on the sign.

    We recruired and then put real people in real out-of-home situations wearing 'vision glasses' (one lens records what the person can see, the other lens records what their eye is looking at).   The sample size was n=40 and we collected 3-4 hours of 'real-life' data frame-by-frame.

    Because vision is a limbic 'non-thinking' activity we found what was expected - no difference between the genders or the age groups.   They noticed the signs with basically the same frequency (averaging around one-in three) but across a wide range depending on the quality and size of the sign.   Where they did differ was in the 'gaze time'.   But that was related to the content of the sign - that is the brain had started to process what the eye had seen.  

    This brings Ed's point into play.   While the eyes (and ears) function the same way, not all content is the same, and people's reactions can be widely different.   That is, normatives are hard to establish - and they only 'work' if you ad sits right on the norm.

    When asked by clients "well what is the average?" (say for visibility, message take-out, unprompted recall etc), I'd say would you be happy to achieve that average they all said 'yes'.   It never ceased to amaze me how many advertisers aspired to be merely average.

    Creativity favours the bold (Nike, Apple etc).

  4. Cynthia Lieberman from, February 25, 2017 at 12:26 a.m.

    I feel strongly both ways.

  5. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, February 25, 2017 at 7:45 a.m.

    Finally, someone with a cogent POV.

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