02 Dec 2011.

Insight with the Axe Effect

Strategic planner Ivan Tanić writes about what insight is, and why it is so important to have good insight in planning an advertising campaign


author: Ivan Tanić, strategic planner, Bruketa&Žinić OM

When the staff at an advertising agency explains their creative process, or how they came to an idea, they will most often say that the idea was based on this or that insight. It is typically believed that insight is a type of new and unbelievable fact or observation. Insight is an important element in the creative process, because these are not only facts or observations, regardless of how unbelievable they are. Women are the fastest growing segment of the online gaming industry – that is not insight, but a statistic. And statistics are facts.

Facts are not inspiring, in and of themselves. They surround us daily. It is a fact that there are not enough parking spaces in Zagreb, that taxi drivers are unreliable, that Croatia is in the midst of an economic crisis; but these are not insights for an advertising campaign for a new underground garage, a new taxi company, or a new political party. Facts are not enough to communicate with the public for the simple reason that this same public is already well aware of these same facts. A campaign based only on communicating the facts to the public can offer no new added value, and with that, it cannot make the product, good or service more valuable, which is the essence of every communication campaign.

At a recent lecture, I heard that Gillette bases its communication on the insight that women need to shave 70% of their body surface, while men need to shave less than 10%. Is this insight? It seems to be that this is just an observation, a very good one, but not insight. In fact, it is certainly not insight because I cannot think of a single Gillette ad that could be associated with this.

For an effective campaign, it is most important that there is communication between the communicators, regardless of whether it is a product, good or service, and its public, based on mutual trust, understanding and relevance. The public has to believe that the one communicating with them genuinely understands their needs, thinking, fears or desires, and is able to communicate those same needs, thinking, fears or desires to them in a relevant and sincere way. All that together creates a good definition of insight.

Professors define insight as a simple and person human truth that emotionally binds the consumer with the brand. I believe that insight is very difficult to define with a definition, as it is a type of experience that is had by a perceptive person at the moment when he or she isolates one of a hundred available facts about the consumer and combines it with the brand and communication challenge, realizing how this experience can be important in the creative process.

An example of ingenuous insight is this: Every man wants women to approach him. That is the Axe Effect. How do we know that we have found good insight? Very simply. In the moment when we say to ourselves Aha! Aha!, we have just had that experience. If it is spectacular for us, then it is good enough. Of course, we may be wrong, which is why we need to reassess it. And perhaps the best method to verify the quality of insight is, as Žinić would say, to ask yourself whether the insight has the Axe Effect :)

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