LONDON: The world’s most effective campaigns highlighted in the WARC 100 are doing many things right, but there is plenty of room for improvement, according to an industry figure.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Heather Andrew, CEO of Neuro-Insight, outlines the extent to which previously identified key creative factors associated with long-term memory encoding are evident among campaigns in the 2017 WARC 100 where television advertising played a key role.

“We found that, while almost all the winning campaigns consistently exploit some of these [six] key creative drivers, there are others that represent potential missed opportunities; and one factor to which even the strongest campaigns can be vulnerable,” she reports.

The three factors that brands in the WARC 100 consistently exploited revolved around aspects of storytelling, including showcasing rather than overtly selling, making the brand intrinsic to the storyline, and having strong levels of interaction between characters – all of which help drive memory encoding.

But Andrew identifies two areas that brands could better exploit: music and rhythm.

The highest levels of brain response are elicited by music that is perceived to drive the action, she notes, but many WARC 100 campaigns used a “recessive” soundtrack – one that is present but which doesn’t produce a higher response or which may even be “a distraction that can have a negative effect on overall brand impact”.

Effective use of breaks and pauses to direct the brain to key parts of the narrative elicit 20% higher memory response at key branding moments, but Andrew finds that many WARC 100 ads had an even rhythm with little contrast – “not necessarily a problem but potentially a missed opportunity”.

More seriously, she warns that many “run the risk of being damaged by conceptual closure” – when the brain pauses for a moment to process an aha! moment and for a second or so is unreceptive to new information.

Examples included taglines that sum up a story just prior to end branding, or executional details that act as a cue that the story is over before it actually is over.

“The road to the WARC 100 is almost certainly littered with ads where great creative has failed to make a real-world impact as a result of conceptual closure, resulting in an ad that people love without ever being able to remember what brand was being advertised,” Andrew says.

Data sourced from Admap