Imagination & Memory

Session Notes squareWant your client’s advertising to be remembered? Use imagination. But not yours—theirs!

The word Imagination gets thrown around a lot in our industry. But nobody really stops to break the word down. It’s about images. More to the point, it’s about the human mind’s ability to create images. And brain science proves that imagination is key to the creation of memories!

When a human brain imagines—or digs up a memory—it all goes through the same brain circuit—the hippocampus. In fact, most memories begin with what’s called a “memory trace” (which is really nothing more than a vague image.)

  • Think about skydiving.
  • Think about winning an Oscar.
  • Think about driving fast on the open road.

Each of those thoughts brought up a vague picture in your mind. That’s the memory trace. Now, let’s relate that to advertising.

If we want to create a memory, we first have to require a person to imagine. In Radio, the concept of Theater of the Mind is the best way to accomplish this. Using SFX and copy to drive a listener’s imagination has long been the highest form of Radio.

The reason that such vivid Radio works well is that it utilizes the pictures that already exist in the listener’s mind. Every listener’s recalled images are unique to them. That’s why imaginative Radio sticks with people. It works just as well today as it did when Orson Welles presented War of the Worlds. It’s human nature.

In Video, the pictures are presented to the viewer, so where’s the room for imagination? It occurs off-camera. When you use the trick of off-camera action (preferably with SFX to support it) you leave a vacuum of visual information. Humans always fill information vacuums with something, and if you do it properly, that something will be images—imagination—then, memory.

Imagination has always been thought of as an important attribute of a creative person. But it’s a far more powerful tool if we creatives think of imagination as something we can trigger in the minds of our target audience. Make them imagine, and they’ll always remember.

—Brent Walker