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February 26, 2024

Insight on Insights

Mason Ahrens

Insight on Insights article - header image

The cornerstone of excellent advertising is the truth. All ads can be separated into the categories of “true” and “untrue.” The neat thing about this is these categories are often directly correlated with “good” and “bad” ads.

Your average consumer can sniff out the bad immediately. It comes down to the blatant exaggeration of the product. A magical sponge that cleans stains off the kitchen wall won’t improve my house so much that it magically turns from a sty to the envy of the 1%. And no burger tastes so great that I as the devourer will be unwilling to eat anything else for the rest of my life. These “promises” aren’t promises at all, and always fall flat for consumers.

David Ogilvy, one of the original greats of advertising, sagely said “Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating.” Despite what you’ve heard about advertising, or the truth in general, the simple fact is the truth always rings true. But therein lies the challenge identified by Ogilvy; saying a “burger tastes good” is uninteresting, and won’t cut through the noise of content consumers see on a daily basis.

Introducing–The Insight

This is where we find that little interesting thing about the truth. We’ll start with an example.

We open in a small room in San Francisco. The year, 1993. Two soon-to-be-renowned creatives are trying to sell milk for the Dairy Farmers of California. The whiteboard is covered in taglines that will never be used. Milk sales have been dropping by 4% each quarter. The situation is dire.

One of them says “Man, I only ever buy milk when I’m already out. Like I’ll get cookies and then after the first bite, I realize I have no milk.”

The light bulbs go off. The insight is found: it doesn’t dawn on people beforehand how bad it is to be out of milk when you need it most.

We’ve all been there. The cereal is in the bowl. You grab the milk carton and whoops, there’s nothing for your cereal.

Original “got milk?” commercial – Who shot Alexander Hamilton?

Got Milk is true, human, and done in a fascinating way.

The Truth and You(r product)

How to define an insight without an example is difficult, but in my humble (and professional) opinion, it’s something like this:

An insight is a true statement that gets people to say “Oh yeahhhhh.”

A little weird, I know. But never underestimate the power of that connection between messaging and consumers. That hidden truth we can all recognize, the less thought yet still glaringly apparent fact that invokes a reaction inside the customer is the finest reaction advertising can achieve.

The truth is your product’s best weapon in messaging. And it’s our job at Creative Energy to find that truth, discover the insight that makes the truth appealing, and create work that the intended audience identifies with.

It’s difficult. It takes time. But the creatives here are excited to take on any challenge. If you need a truth sleuth for your product, well, you’ve come to the right agency.