Does alcohol make you more creative? The test’s been done

After months of talking about it, we have now conducted the Newt/Judge Experiment to find out if alcohol really does make you more creative.

And it didn’t go quite as expected.

In case you don’t know about the experiment, here’s a summary:

• 18 advertising creatives volunteered

• We split them into two groups with equal experience

• We plied one group with alcohol and the other group with none

• We gave them three hours to work on the same brief

• And, just for the irony of it, the brief was to tackle binge drinking

Now let me make this clear - I can’t take credit for the idea. That goes to the brilliant John Jessop, who’s seen the advertising industry’s relationship with alcohol change significantly over the last 40 years. And he’s not convinced our current puritanical attitude is for the best.

From my own experience, the first piece of copy I ever wrote was thanks to the inhibition-reducing effects of several pints of Guinness. It ran without any client amends and picked up a best copy award. So I’m a believer that alcohol has its place. In moderation, of course.

So, back to the experiment.

We can’t share any big learnings with you yet because we’ve not judged the work.

That’ll be happening in the next month.

We’ll be selecting the best five ideas from each group and drawing them up to the same standard. (I can reveal that the sober group drew better scamps!)

We’ll then be asking the prestigious judges of the Chip Shop Awards to rank them in order of creativity from 1 to 10.

Following that, Foolproof (who lent us their lovely offices and research facilities for the experiment) will be asking members of the public to do the same.

That will give us two results. And will answer another question: do advertising people judge creative work differently to the public?

So, if you’re interested in the results, keep an eye on this space.

Along with Dave Birss at Additive, the Newt/Judge Experiment wouldn’t have been possible without the help of:

Lesley Fountain at Foolproof

Wyndham Lewis at equimedia

Photography by Julian Hanford

Filming by Tom Baker

Dave Birss

I used to be an advertising Creative Director. Now I'm on a mission to demystify creativity. I do that by writing, speaking, broadcasting and consulting.

I’m the founder of RIGHTthinking.co - which helps businesses get to more effective ideas more effectively.

I’m the editor of OpenforIdeas.org - an online magazine that explores creativity and innovation in business.

I was the writer, director and presenter of the TV series, The Day Before Tomorrow.

I'm the author of A User Guide to the Creative Mind. And have a couple of other books in the pipeline.

You can often find me debunking creative myths on stage at conferences all over the world.

All by Dave