Mindfulness & Advertising
The term “Mindfulness” has begun to enter many vernaculars. And it’s a welcome thing. A former client of ours who started an executive medical practice in Toronto incorporated the tenets of Mindfulness into the philosophy and programs of a very high-end health and fitness facility. Western psychologists are starting to incorporate Mindfulness practice into psycho-therapeutic practice. We even recently met a private school who uses Mindfulness as the fundamental pillar of its pedagogy and school culture.
Mindfulness is commonly defined as: “The intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.” What revolutionary words. Intentional, accepting, and non-judgmental… Focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts, and sensations… Occurring in the present moment.
It is a term that was translated from the Pali word sati. And it’s revolutionary because it’s another way of saying, “Taking full responsibility for one’s self-awareness.” And that’s big.
Why is it important to advertising? Because, first of all, it will make us better advertisers. Advertising that lacks self-awareness can easily veer into the crass, irrelevant, insulting, or empty. In other words, mind-less advertising. Which there is altogether too much of.
As advertisers we want to know Why we are selling what we sell, and saying what we say. And we cannot know Why, unless we are attuned to the thoughts, feelings, sensations—and intentions—behind our decisions. In a recent creative meeting with an elite educational client, we had the pleasure of hearing them talk openly about how each ad “made them feel”, both as audience and as authors. And they used these emotional sensors, along with the creative brief, to guide them toward the best ad in the bunch.
Mindfulness only takes moments. A decision to ask oneself what one is feeling and why, without judgment. A decision to give a little time to become aware of the largely invisible thoughts and intentions behind our observable behaviours. As those who work directly on creating and managing brands, when we practice mindfulness our minds are more clear. Our intentions are more honest. We are more empathetic to what our audiences might feel. And the likelihood that true insight will occur to us—vastly increases.