The Difference Between “Left-Brain” and “Right-Brain” Ads

Brands in the UK and US are too focused on short-term, narrow, goal-oriented TV creative work rather than ads that are based on empathy, relationships and human connection, according to a study by market research firm System1. From a sample of 100 spots running now, the study found that ads exhibited a higher quantity of “left-brain” features (which are literal, factual, and explicit) than “right-brain” traits (offering greater depth, questioning, context, and self-awareness).

Source: System1



The ads that stood out the most in 2019 showed a commitment to long-term brand building, as opposed to providing quick amusement for audiences. This demonstrates an ambition that goes beyond simply peddling a product or service, but of building genuine empathic connections with audiences and what matters to them. Nike, Gillette, and the New York Times have all dedicated the year to carrying out long-term campaigns with sharp and prescient social commentary — as opposed to “oddvertising,” the making of random and often insubstantial ad campaigns which was popular on television until recently. However, this study shows that there is still more room for deep, questioning, self-aware, and “right-brained” advertising that goes beyond meeting short-term goals.

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