Spikes 2013: 'Emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusion'

Andy Wilson, head of strategy, BBDO Asia Pacific, presented the case for triggering emotional response through creativity

Sep 17, 2013 02:55:00 PM | Article | Ananya Saha

"Creativity is under threat from over-analysis, research and data," is how Andy Wilson, head of strategy, BBDO Asia Pacific, opened his talk at the Spikes Asia 2013. He argued that the industry needs to work harder to explain how creativity works in generating behaviour change.

Wilson said, "The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusion. And this is why creative work for brands should be focused on triggering emotion responses."

On the relationship between creativity and effectiveness, he explained, "While there is a prevailing assumption that it requires creativity to drive effective work, we need to understand the mechanisms by which creativity triggers powerful emotional responses. When you explore what it is that triggers emotions in the brain, you find at the heart of this are two neurochemicals, dopamine and oxytocin."

He added that dopamine, a chemical in the brain, was responsible for motivating and rewarding any action that leads to a sense of achievement and success. He said. “Dopamine is a very powerful force in generating the emotion of desire. It is what drives us to hunt for food, or for mates, to explore new lands, to acquire new things, and to solve problems. If marketing is about creating desire for brands, then marketing is essentially about triggering dopamine. And we know that dopamine is triggered by a wide variety of stimuli, such as surprise, novelty, story-telling, humour, and music, which explains why these aspects are so prevalent in successful advertising.”  

He cited examples of how brands have successfully used these elements, including the Cadbury’s Gorilla campaign, Guinness and Oreos. 

Wilson then explained the role of oxytocin: “Oxytocin is often called the ‘love drug' and is responsible for most of our social-based behaviours such as mating, sex, love, trust and bonding. For marketers interested in generating bonding between brands and audiences, oxytocin is surely going to be relevant. And we know that oxytocin is triggered by gift giving, generosity, eye contact and communal activities”.


"A fundamental shift is needed. We need to replace 'reason’ with 'feeling', 'message' with 'experience' and 'voice over' with 'soundtrack'. We need to define the feeling that we want our brands to evoke," he said.

(Article based on Wilson's talk at Spikes Asia 2013, with further inputs in conversation with Campaign India.)