What’s in an insight?

Each fortnight in Encore, Naked’s Adam Ferrier poses a question to the industry. This week, he asks why the Mumbrella Awards jury failed to find a winner in the insight category. AdamFerrier

Anyone seen the wonderful Dumb Ways to Die ad? It’s one of my all-time favourite commercials (I still can’t stop singing it) and it’s doing rather well at Cannes too. What about the Overstay Checkout (by Naked), winner of the $10,000 WARC World Innovation Prize? As well as those global accolades, both campaigns were finalists at the recent local Mumbrella Awards (along with several other excellent ideas) in the category of insight. However, in this particular category, the judges didn’t award a winner – saying there was not a good enough insight among any of the finalists*.

There are only two options for this: a) the judges of the category had just the right balance of hubris and naivety to completely delude themselves; or b) they got it right. I’m pretty sure it was the former (although obviously, I’m not in an objective position to judge).

Here’s why.

An ‘insight’ has become this mythical holy grail delivered on a red silk pillow to the creative who is then so startled by its, ummmm, insight they create an amazing idea. Thus we are encouraged to find ‘deep, penetrating insights about the human condition’. Anything other than this is deemed just a finding or an observation. This is complete horse shit – and it doesn’t work like that.

Often the insight and the idea are intertwined – pulling them apart can be tough, and meaningless (e.g. the insight for The Overstay Checkout was ‘why do hotels still kick people out at 11.00am when the hotel is not full and there is no business reason for them to do so?’ This is obviously very similar to the final idea). Or further, the insight can be wonderfully superficial (again see prior example for a superficial – yet very useful – ‘insight’).

And so my question is this. Does the concept of finding deep, penetrating insights that unlock growth really exist independently of the idea? And has anyone ever had one?

*Please forgive the self-aggrandising, and obvious bitterness in this week’s question.

Adam Ferrier is a consumer psychologist and the founder of Naked Communications. 

Encore issue 19This piece first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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