I have always defended the thesis that great advertising does not imply functional advertising. This is as a result of all the great adverts that we see in that win loads of awards, but probably did not encourage that many sales.
And, after all, is it not the advertiser's role to target a group of people to encourage them to consumer our product or service, and not just be an artist provoking "wows".
In that context, I read in AdLatina a tremendous article by Mariana Herneandez, who speaks exclusively about this problem and what we must do about it:
According to Greek mythology, all the gods and goddesses of Olympus were invited to the nuptial feasts of Peleus (King of Thessaly) and Thetis (nymph of the sea). Eris the goddess of discord, was not invited and in revenge, burst into the festivities and threw among the attendees a golden apple that had inscribed the phrase "for the most beautiful of Olympus." This striking and dazzling apple rolled on the floor among the surprised wedding guests. Its brightness caused curiosity and greed. Very quickly, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, three of the main goddesses of Olympus, claimed the apple. Each of them believed to deserve the title of the most beautiful. It was impossible to reach an agreement and they asked Zeus to help them decide. To avoid getting into trouble, Zeus ordered that it be Paris, a mortal, pastor and prince of Troy, who would decide. Each goddess tried to bribe him by offering coveted prizes. Finally and guided by what her eyes could see, Paris decided that the golden apple should belong to Aphrodite, earning the eternal hatred of the other two competitors. This myth, called the Judgment of Paris, later unleashed in the Trojan War.
Advertisers frequently face the "judgment of ideas", a metaphorical way of naming the processes of advertising evaluation or pre-test (qualitative or quantitative) that seek to assess the potential of their ideas among people who are selected as representatives of their target market, according to the communication strategy.
For the creatives it is a crucial moment since the ideas they have generated and refined will be passed through a filter that will decide, in many cases, whether they will have legs or not.
Human perception is a complex fact affected by personal experience. Many authors throughout several decades in psychological research have shown that perception is a totally subjective phenomenon by which the brain tries to make sense of the stimuli that come from outside. For example, studies done in criminalistics have shown through DNA tests, that 50% of the visual identifications made by witnesses would have been incorrect in an involuntary way. That is, we believe we are right and we are not.
The memory of our past learning moulds any new ideas our brain receives. The more different the idea we are perceiving, the more difficult it will be for our system to give it a meaning: it may require more time and produce contradictory feelings, which is not necessarily negative. You have to know how to separate the concept and effect of the novelty of creative potential.
The context also adds definitive nuances. We are totally contextual beings. We can react differently to identical stimuli. When we do not understand something, we feel uncomfortable because we are trained to be sceptical about things we do not understand. If they ask us a question that we can not answer and we know we are being evaluated (as is the case in most pre-test studies, as people know what is going on) we will make an effort to give the best possible answer and not necessarily the one that reflects our genuine feeling. For example, if you ask a group of ladies in a qualitative pre-test done with animatics, what do they think about the facial emotions of any of the characters drawn, however difficult (and irrelevant) the question may be, they will make the effort to give the best possible answer.
It is necessary to understand how human perception and behaviour works when evaluating the methodological quality of these tools. Are they able to detect the potential of novelty? Do they identify the power of conversation behind an idea? Do you understand that constructive criticism is a valuable component in an idea, because if we all agree with everything, there is nothing to be persuaded by? All our decisions are at the same time emotional and rational, as the brain processes in that way.
We must dedicate ourselves to create more efficient and persuasive ideas. We must also be advocates for the proper use of tools, proposing processes that capture, in the most human way possible, the power of ideas and thus move away from the Paris judgment.