Marius on Strategy and Communication

What it says on the tin

A Little Rant About Research

More agencies and planners should use academic research in their work. Journals, whether on consumer behaviour and behavioural economics or on more category specific topics, are goldmines for strategists. Yet we’re still stuck trying to find so-called insights in focus groups. Asking 20 people the same questions our competitors do, with participants confabulating and second guessing the facilitator, rarely lead to much of genuine interest. Of course, any given fact or piece of information these days are called an insight, so the bar has been set pretty low.

Richard Huntington ( insists on calling it revelations, that way most of what we currently call insights will be revealed for what they really are. BBH-labs advocate focusing on a range of insights and combining these, and I couldn’t agree more. Advertisers are too focused on narrowing everything down to a word or a line, and the same with insights. We need a bunch of insights, about the brand, our customers, their media habits, and most importantly: cultural insights. And these can be big and broad and based on large cultural and societal macro-trends and the tensions that occur as a result of changes in our society. Now that’s when you find insights that can actually lead to interesting work! A brand is complex, or should be. It has a worldview, a philosophy, a bunch of stakeholders and objectives. Just like a human being. How can it ever be narrowed down to one word? Also, when this word is then implemented in communications and brought to life creatively, the brand takes on multiple personalities and attributed a whole bunch of opinions, values and traits that couldn’t be further from the truth. Designers use brand style-guides. The output of strategies should perhaps more resemble these, and stop being obsessed with a misunderstood concept of single mindedness.

Naked uses research in interesting ways, and although behavioural economics (action drives attitude change rather than vice versa) is often more relevant at a tactical level, it is super fascinating. Droga5 is another agency who uses research in an interesting way (surprise, surprise), and in this case study for Prudential, they’ve made it their campaign. And as always, they demonstrate a genuine respect and understanding for their audience.

Rant over.


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This entry was posted on September 3, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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