The Invisible Brief

11 Mar

In 1999 Harvard psychologists Christopher Chabris and Donald Simons conducted a famous experiment on selective attention.

If you’d like to try the original experiment, you can find it here before I spoil it.

If you’re not going to try it, here’s how it works.

Two teams simultaneously pass two basketballs.

Participants were asked to count how many times the team in white passes the ball.

While they are carrying out this task, a person in a gorilla suit walks across the screen.

Incredibly, the experiment shows that roughly 50% of participants fail to notice the gorilla even though it’s in plain view for 9 seconds.

Proving that when we are completely engrossed in a task, we are quite likely to miss what’s happening around us.

This metaphor applies very well to business.

Companies get so engrossed in day-to-day operations that they fail to spot important trends.

And get blinded sided by the obvious.

And few things are more obvious than the proverbial 900 pound gorilla.

Blockbuster’s gorilla was Netflix.

RIM’s gorilla was the iPhone.

Groupon’s gorilla is a lack of sustainable merchant benefit.

And this metaphor also applies to advertising on an almost daily basis.

Explaining why 90% of advertising is crap.

Because between the strategy documents, the PowerPoint presentations and media charts, the obvious has gone missing on Madison Avenue and along Shoreditch.

(Not that the condition is limited to London and New York.)

It occurs everywhere the industry is too busy complicating things to remember what a simple business advertising essentially is.

Everywhere agencies fail to recognize the invisible brief.

So here it is made fully visible:

Get noticed and remembered for being relevant.

It’s guaranteed to improve any brief.

And it’s often the only one you need.

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