How left-brain thinking is undermining creativity and making advertising less effective.

Using a unique mix of neuroscience, cultural history and advertising research, the study shows how an increase in abstract, left-brain thinking has spread across business and popular culture and how this is undermining creativity and making advertising less effective. Crucially, it also provides practical advice to reverse this decline.


Non members based outside of the UK – please order your copy via Amazon to avoid additional taxes and delayed delivery.

According to the 130-page publication, the reasons underlying the crisis relate to the way the brain attends to the world: the same instincts that lie behind short-termism and narrow focus are resulting in work that is flat, abstract, dislocated and devitalised – advertising that doesn’t move people. An attentional shift has occurred in business and society; a change in thinking style that has left its mark not just on advertising, but also on popular culture.

The focus of Lemon. is firmly on what makes ads effective in five key sections that:

  • Demonstrate the power of advertising creativity; how advertising makes audiences feel translates into tangible business outcomes. 
  • Unpick the brain’s attentional styles; how to read these attentional styles in culture over the course of Western civilization.
  • Understand how a shift in attentional style has led to advertising losing its humanity and its ability to entertain; it has turned sour.
  • Explore why this change in attentional style is happening in agencies and client companies today, and propose how they might guard against it.
  • Point towards a more effective advertising style that creates and sustains business growth. Analysis throughout draws on the IPA’s Effectiveness DataBank and System1 Group’s advertising database.

Says Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy: "Any book which finds evidence everywhere from Hans Holbein to the Honey Monster is good by me. But this is an extraordinary and wonderful book, with implications that go far beyond advertising and research."

Taste A Slice of Lemon. - A summary of Lemon. with charts and a digest of the key points.

Please note that non members based in the following countries can order from Amazon: UK (includes all of Europe), US, Australia and Canada (only "Lemon" and "Look Out" available). If you live outside of these countries then please proceed to purchase from the IPA website, however, you will incur an additional cost in taxes and there will be a delay.

Orlando Wood, System1 - Addressing the crisis in creativity