Insights Don’t Exist

Insights Don’t Exist

Farrah Bostic at Pretty Little Head got us wondering if we've 'observed' insights to death.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 11 may 2011

A recent post by Farrah Bostic at Pretty Little Head raises a provocative and interesting point – that there are no such things as insights. In reality, it doesn’t appear that Bostic is saying that insights themselves are non-existent in our industry, but rather, what we’ve labeled as ‘insights’ is incorrect.

According to Bostic;

Insight is a capacity to gain accurate and deep understanding of a person or thing.  Insight, in other words, is what a good planner or creative – or hell, in a perfect world a good client or account manager – should have.

But the work product of these processes isn’t ‘an insight’. Insight is a quality possessed by people. You want to hire planners who are insightful.  But they will not ‘uncover’ or ‘land on’ or ‘find’ insights for you, because that is not possible. The best they can be, is insightful on your behalf.

Bostic’s lengthier piece is worth the full read. Per usual, we’re pulled what we found to be some of the most thought-provoking and referential bits:

  • It can be helpful to deconstruct a campaign as or after it’s been ideated by breaking it down to a) the business objective, b) advertising objective, c) the strategic idea and d) the creative/media idea
  • While the business objective and advertising objective are rather obvious (business agenda – what your client will be incentivized on – and what the advertising can accomplish, respectively), it gets a bit more nebulous when you’re differentiating the strategic idea from the creative idea
  • The strategic idea is how you’re going to go about achieving the advertising objective, while the creative idea is ‘the framework for bringing that strategy to life’. Using Nike+ as an example, Bostic imagines that;
  • “The strategic idea is not ‘People like to listen to music when they run – the strategic idea is probably something like, ‘Let’s entertain and reward people so they’ll use our content when working out’.”
  • For the creative idea, it could have been ‘to build a social, interactive, content & feedback-driven ecosystem’.

What we found to be at the heart of Bostic’s thoughts is that ‘insights’ aren’t something to be arrived at. Insight is unique intuition, intelligence and knowledge that informs the entire creative communications process. It’s also not so formulaic; there are practices that help one be more insightful (research, immersion, questioning and observation), but they will not all arrive at the same ‘insight’ against the same business objective (insights aren’t just waiting to be found). Insights, as we collectively often treat them as an industry, are actually just re-packaged observations. It’s in our and our clients’ favor to challenge ourselves with a more demanding and ‘insightful’ approach.

Prettylittlehead: “There are No Such Things as ‘Insights'”


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