Great Marketing Starts With Powerful Insights: Here Are 5 Rules to Find Them

All inspiring marketing rests on a powerful, catalyzing insight. Most marketing misfires stem from a miscue masquerading as an insight. As the starting point for any innovation, communication or experience effort, nothing is more foundationally critical than a sound insight for staying on-target as work progresses.

All inspiring marketing rests on a powerful, catalyzing insight. Most marketing misfires stem from a miscue masquerading as an insight. As the starting point for any innovation, communication or experience effort, nothing is more foundationally critical than a sound insight for staying on-target as work progresses.

If an insight is even two degrees off at the start, by the time you’re reviewing work weeks or months down the road, you’ll likely be miles off the mark. So getting the insight right from the outset is essential to developing resonant marketing and avoiding the agony of round after round of unproductive work.

As a recent case in point, we have two examples of brands that tried to take on the issue of the polarized, strident state of our social reality: Pepsi and Heineken.

With its Kendall Jenner ad, Pepsi showed the quasi-celebrity resolving social crisis by opening a can of cola.

https://youtu.be/dA5Yq1DLSmQ

In World’s Apart, Heineken showcased pairs of people with wildly divergent views discovering they could talk calmly and reasonably to each other.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wYXw4K0A3g

The Pepsi work was instantly and universally panned, leading to its embarrassing and equally instant withdrawal. The Heineken work was widely viewed as thought-provoking, moving and appropriate.

While it’s easy to pick on a variety of issues with the Pepsi ad (as so many have done at this point), I believe that the difference in the success of the two efforts comes down to the difference between how well the two brands adhered to what I consider these cardinal rules of good insights.

1. No Room for Wishful Thinking

One of the worst — and most common — sins of insights is allowing wishful thinking to creep into the mix. I shudder to think how many times I’ve sat with a brand manager who showed me a positioning statement containing an insight along the lines of, “I wish there were a breakfast cereal that was healthy AND tasted good.” This is an insight pre-engineered to invite the circular brand promise, “Only Toasty-O’s are healthy AND good tasting!” You’ve got to tune your BS meter to 11, rigorously sniff out any trace of self-delusion, strategy or aspiration, and stick to reality.

Why the Heineken Video Went Viral

Why is online content shared? To build one’s social standing? Or develop the sharer’s self-image? Those and related questions were answered last week in “10 Ingredients for Your Video to Go Viral” for the All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference and Expo. I mentioned the recent Heineken viral video “Worlds Apart.” So today, here are a few reasons why.

How Heineken Went ViralWhy is online content shared? To build one’s social standing? Or develop the sharer’s self-image? Those and related questions were answered last week in “10 Ingredients for Your Video to Go Viral” for the All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference and Expo. I mentioned the recent Heineken viral video “Worlds Apart.” So today, here are a few reasons why.

If you missed 10 Ingredients for Your Video to Go Viral last week, you can still watch and listen to it here.

Participants during my session posed some questions about making successful videos. Here is the Q&A, including my thoughts about the Heineken video.

How Do You Find Out What Your Customers Want to See if You Offer a Service?

Whether you offer a service or product, the obvious answer might be to ask your customers. But I’d actually suggest that your customers may prefer to be surprised. That is, avoid the obvious and consider the obscure presentation that no one thought to ask about.

Think about how you can use the news or headlines to create a story. Or perhaps there is an attitude or temperament you want to tap into. The Heineken Worlds Apart video, released on April 20, has had over 11 million views so far. They don’t sell beer. Rather, it’s a commentary about our culture, and that while some people may be worlds apart, they can agree to disagree, and perhaps even soften barriers over a beer. It’s a brilliant video, and at over 4 minutes in length, delivers a strong message that surely strengthens their brand. By the way, this illustrates that under-two-minute videos aren’t the only way to command views.

https://youtu.be/8wYXw4K0A3g

Behind-the-scenes can always be a pleasant surprise. Show how your product is made — or how it is used, out in the wild. Gather testimonials and let the word-of-mouth tell your story in an unexpected way.

If you’re a non-profit, show the outcomes — with real stories — of what you provide, and make sure it’s an emotional tug.

Is an Informal Video Stronger Than a Professional Scripted Video?

Sometimes. It really depends. The Heineken video doesn’t appear to have been scripted, but rather, a lot of footage was shot and it was edited down to create a compelling story that a lot of people have viewed, and perhaps embraced. More important that the video quality is the audio quality. Social media users forgive shaky smartphone videos, but if they can’t discern the audio or if there is distracting, loud background noise, they may not stay with it.

So Green Screen Videos Are Out?

A lot of interesting graphics and text can be used if you have a talking head on video and recorded in front of a green screen. People want to connect emotionally with interesting people, so I would suggest you need the right person to be on camera if you’re shooting in front of a green screen. Also, a green screen allows for simple, controlled, limited lighting in a confined area. In editing, you have options around the environment the speaker is in—and it can change during the video.

The Most Interesting Man in the World Is No Longer Interesting

In 2006, Dos Equis beer launched an ad campaign featuring “the world’s most interesting man” — a campaign that ran for 10 years and had an undeniable impact on sales, some reporting an increase of 22 percent while other imported beer sales fell 4 percent in the U.S.

Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the WorldIn 2006, Dos Equis beer launched an ad campaign featuring “the world’s most interesting man” — a campaign that ran for 10 years, and it’s had an undeniable impact on sales with some reporting an increase of 22 percent while other imported beer sales fell 4 percent in the U.S.

It’s not surprising that the campaign resonated. It was clever, and the situations “the man” found himself in were outrageous, far-fetched and humorous. From surfing a killer whale, to slamming a revolving door, to “speaking French … in Russian,” to finding The Fountain of Youth but not taking a drink because “he wasn’t thirsty,” the campaign always elicited at least a smirk from the men in my household.

At the end of every TV spot, the most interesting man in the world would face the camera surrounded by several beautiful woman and comment, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis … Stay thirsty my friends.” The actor, Johnathan Goldsmith, was bearded, silver-haired and exuded sexual charm, despite being in his 70s. In fact it was his age that made his adventures believable!

But in the spring of 2016, Dos Equis announced that Goldsmith would be retiring from the role by sending him on a one-way trip to Mars. I was devastated. Did some focus group tell Dos Equis that Goldsmith didn’t resonate with Millennials? Were sales on the decline and the campaign was seen as no longer relevant?

That doesn’t seem to be true because Dos Equis has now launched a new campaign and has replaced Goldsmith with a younger version. But instead of being outrageous, far-fetched and humorous, the new TV spots are just plain dumb. But don’t take my word for it. My Millennial sons actually made the observation first.

The most recent spot, “The Most Interesting Man Spices Things Up,” has our hero in a competition of who can eat the spiciest pepper. After both take a bite, his competitor’s eyes bulge and sweat pours off his forehead; our hero simply smiles.

“Wow. They’ve missed the point!,” lamented my son. “We watch YouTube videos of people eating spicy things to see what happens to them … what’s interesting about a guy who has no reaction at all?”

Indeed.

A trip to YouTube shows a mere 323 views of this newest commercial, posted over 2 weeks ago. Another spot, posted 6 months ago, got 95,000 views. In comparison, one of the historical spots with my man Jonathan racked up 3.5 million views.

What is interesting is that Heineken’s share price (Dos Equis’ parent company) started dipping in the middle of 2016 … right around the time the old campaign ended. Another research report by YouGov shows that consideration of purchase among Millennials fell from 18 percent in November to 8 percent in December.

It’s just one more example of a brilliant marketing idea gone terribly awry. That’s the only interesting part of this story.