Insights are something that we, as advertisers, never stop chasing and searching for. While representing a pivotal element in building a campaign, insights are really hard to find.
In our industry, looking for insights is a bit like throwing yourself into a Pokemon chase - you never know where it might lead you. But what is the real nature of an insight? What are they? What are they not? And how can you set yourself to find them?
In order to better understand the true nature of insights, it is useful to analyze the key elements composing advertising campaigns. They are the following:
Or the client brief, summarized in one sentence: it’s the one bullet to your head, the one thing that synthesizes all you want to communicate in the whole campaign.
An insight is an original intuition. It is the support and foundation of your idea for the advertising campaign.
The campaign idea is where your insight and your brand finally meet. We can also call it “concept”. It is where your insightful conception meets the needs of the brand.
The last component of an advertising campaign is the execution, e.g. the proper crafting of the idea. It is the only component people will see. It is the most unfair of the four elements, because if you don't have enough time, budget, resources to work on it, it will not be up to great standards.
Now that we’ve defined the basic bricks building an advertising campaign, let’s deep dive on our main topic: insights.
What is an insight?
As we’ve seen, an insight is an unexplored common denominator of people, as humans. It’s a behavior, a habit, a thought that is shared by a multitude of people. The wider the insight, the more effective the creative idea can be. Insights are universal truths, revelations that are brought to light becoming clear and evident. They become seen and stick to your head. You cannot forget them as they come from a deeply unconscious or irrational domain that is at some point revealed and brought in plain sight. It’s something that concerns a community, something that we didn’t know but that’s always been there. It was there, but it went unnoticed till that moment. On the other hand an insight should not be sophisticated - it is something obvious. When you come in contact with it, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow and say: “Yeah, that’s true!”. A good insight sparks ideas and triggers creativity. For all of these reasons, we can say that an interesting insight should be somehow uncomfortable. You certainly won’t find it where all is quiet and nice - it has to make you smile or feel sad, it has to reach into your memories and generate unexpected feelings.
Insights are unbranded
Also, for obvious reasons, a good insight cannot be branded. Advertising is often viewed with suspicion by people and nobody likes to hear a brand talking about itself: in fact what you should do is to stop thinking like advertisers and start thinking like normal people. Last but not least an insight is not always identified through sophisticated qualitative research but, more often, it emerges from a lucid observation of life: it relates to people, human beings, not to consumers.
Great & insightful pieces of advertising
To understand and fully get the power of insights let’s look at some good examples and understand why they can be considered particularly interesting under an insight perspective:
BRAND : Spotify
CAMPAIGN : Let The Song Play
PROPOSITION : Most of the music is listened to in the car, but very little through streaming services: the goal is to push Spotify as a solution for listening to music in your car.
INSIGHT : When we drive we turn into crazy singers.
IDEA : Have you ever let a song finish? When we really love a song, we would be in the car even longer than necessary, just to listen to it until the end.
EXECUTION : The idea is developed through a series of funny cartoons, where people are shown driving while singing Sia's Elastic Heart with huge enthusiasm. People outside notice them with skeptical reactions.
HEINEKEN: CHEERS OR NO CHEERS?
BRAND : Heineken
CAMPAIGN : Cheers or no cheers?
PROPOSITION : Launch the Heineken 0.0 non-alcoholic reference.
INSIGHT : People who do not drink alcohol are normally excluded during toasts.
IDEA : Heineken wants to revolutionize social occasions, including people who for a reason or another do not drink alcohol.
EXECUTION : A time-traveling film where people of all ages who don’t drink are excluded during toasts, till the present time, where this stereotype disappears thanks to the new Heineken 0.0 beer.
BRAND : Apple
CAMPAIGN : 911
PROPOSITION : Apple Watch Series 7 allows you to make emergency calls. This feature can save many lives.
INSIGHT : It can be very difficult to make emergency calls during an accident.
IDEA : How to prove that Apple Watch can make a difference to people's lives? By telling real stories of real people.
EXECUTION : A woman trapped in an overturned car, a paddleboarder taken out to sea and an elderly farmer who fractured his hip after a serious fall: three real 911 calls become the script of the commercial, along with superimposing headlines and aerial shots.
All of these great pieces of advertising are a great example of an insight that hit the mark by digging deep into small epiphanies that managed to reach the ultimate goal: making sense. Here are some suggestions to find insights and use them in your work
Steal words, jokes, feelings, observe everything without shame and take notes without censorship. Make sure not to miss anything.
2. Train your sensitivity
To find an insight, you need an exceptional amount of experience, mixed with intuition and sensitivity. Never stop learning from others and train your insight hunting skills!
3. Be relevant
If there is no dilemma, conflict, unfulfilled need, or limit, then there is no insight. There are only observations that any brand can make. Look beyond reassuring insights.
4. Look outside the brief
Play with perspectives, look the other way.
5. Look inside yourself
In-sight: look within you, dig inside yourself, and you’ll find it.
Insights are not to be created. They’re already there. Your job is just to catch them.