Christopher Graves, the CEO of Ogilvy PR Global, has bagged the WPP Atticus Award for Public Relations and Public Affairs, his third Atticus Award, including the Atticus Grand Prix he won in 2012 for original published thinking in branding and identity, for his chapter “Cool is Not Enough” in the book “Reimagining Japan: The Quest for a Future That Works.” WPP's Atticus Awards are open to all of the multinational holding company's 175,000 employees, which span across over 350 companies, including Ogilvy & Mather, JWT and Y&R. They honour individuals who reveal greatness in research and writing related to communications services. An honour that Graves has now achieved for a third time.
Christopher Graves has bagged the WPP Atticus Award for Public Relations and Public Affairs, his third Atticus Award, including the Atticus Grand Prix he won in 2012
The piece that won Graves his third Atticus was a written piece entitled “Brain Behaviour Story.” This was a text derived from years of research into behavioural economics, neuroscience and narrative theory, which managed to weave together discoveries in different fields that revealed why most communications fail to persuade or change minds. Principals discussed at length in the prize-winning paper, include exploring why effective narratives must engage the brain's limbic system, the system that processes emotion, and how it would appear the vast majority of corporate communications ignore this fact. It also discusses how trying to change people's minds tends to backfire, and how to create mental imagery in narrative to trigger empathy. In short, it's complicated stuff, but it's also incredibly thought-provoking and should fascinate anyone with even a passing interest in the way we naturally relate to communications.
Graves, who also won an Atticus Grand Prix in 2009 as part of an Ogilvy & Mather team for a project called "Ogilvy on Recession: The New PR: Leveraging Digital Influence to Drive Sales and Reputation," believes his findings “Give us an approach to overcome the myriad of human cognitive biases that prevent most communications from working." He feels that "Understanding the science beneath the art of narrative does not replace the need for creativity, but it does help us become far more effective in our approach."
Graves also won an Atticus Grand Prix in 2009 as part of an Ogilvy & Mather team for a project called "Ogilvy on Recession: The New PR: Leveraging Digital Influence to Drive Sales and Reputation,"
In layman's terms, he's referring to understanding how a narrative approach to communication (in this case advertising) can scientifically tap into our natural instinct to follow and get emotionally invested in a narrative, but that doesn't mean science should trump pure, unbridled creativity. Graves goes on to say that whilst "All agencies lay claim to being great storytellers," Ogilvy PR has gone the extra mile in terms of “Actually done the hard work of crafting a science-based methodology to go about purposeful narratives that effect real change."
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK. The vast majority of Mr Graves' points have shot right over his head, but he at least caught the cliff-notes.