“Why is a good insight like a refrigerator”

by Alessandro on 13. September 2011

Jeremy Bullmore is a member of the WPP Advisory Board and once wrote a very interesting article about “why good insights are like a refrigerator”. For those who do not have the time to read his article I’ll jump to his conclusion: “Good insights are like refrigerators because when you look into it, a light comes on” (foto source: Flickr.com by wboland).

To me that’s a great and sticky formulation of what an insight should do to any person who is involved in a creative process. Simon Law (Executive Planning Director at True Worldwide in London) shares that view when he writes in his blog: “an insight is like a revelation”.

What I really like about both Jeremy’s and Simon’s “definitions” are their stickyness and also the fact that they capture, what’s for me, the core of a great insight: the ability to shed light on a human truth regarding the role of a product/brand in people’s lives (link to german blogpost).

There are countless definitions of what insights are or aren’t. So instead of playing the game of listing a few of those definitions and debating about which ones we think are best, I’d rather share with you some campaigns that contain insights which in my view work like refrigerators.

Snickers: You’re not you when you’re hungry

“You’re not you when you’re hungry” is not just the claim of Snickers actual campaign, but is also a great example for a universal human truth that not only resonates deeply with people but also brilliantly fits the brand. We all know someone whose behavior or mood changes when he/she gets hungry. And Snickers was best positioned to solve that issue since the brand alwasy stood for  “hunger satisfaction”. The use of celebrities not only helped accelerate the fame of the campaign, but more importantly the celebrities were used as metaphors for hunger “signals” like irritability or diva-like crankiness.

The campaign won a “creative effectiveness” lion in Cannes (link to german blogpost) this year.

Febreze: The Breathe Happy Experiment

Febreze is a brand that’s known for its efficacy in eliminating odors and leaving your home with a nice, fresh smell. However, consumers were becoming more and more sceptical about the brand’s superiority message and the way it was being conveyed through traditional advertising. What was needed was a new approach that would let people experience that Febreze truly lets you breathe happy no matter what. The insight behind the campaign emerged during a consumer group where one lady told us “you can close your eyes but you can never shut of your nose”.

Not only did the campaign win in Cannes, but for the first time in the brand’s history, the “Breathe Happy Eyperiment” has given people a reason to interact with the brand online.

British Heart Foundation: “Yoobot”

A third of children in UK are overweight and so the British Heart Foundation asked GREY to find a way to make kids aged 11 to 13 take greater responsibility for their own health. But how do you that when “health” certainly isn’t on their priority list. What was needed, wasn’t another campaign telling them what good food is, but rather a tool that would help them make good food choices in a playful and engaging way.  The insight: kids feel “invincible”, so no matter what you preach, they end up eating what they want unless you show them the future relevance of the problem on their terms, i.e. with impact and play value.

Click here to see the case: YOOBOT j williams ok

Land Rover: “you stop lying when you feel safe”

Here is one last example of an actual Rover campaign that I really like. Everyone knows that people feel safe when driving SUVs. However, this is a fact not an insight and without having seen the briefing behind this campaign, I would feel pretty comfortable saying that the insight must have been formulated around the lines of “when you feel safe, you stop saying lies to protect yourself.”

And if I’m right with my guess than I would certainly say that this insight passes the simple test Simon Law suggests in his presentation: “write it on a piece of paper – on its own and make sure that it is large type in the middle of lots of white space.
 Then judge it – can it stand the test of brevity? is is still interesting with no support?…. Do you still feel proud?”


  1. [...] zunächst alle sechs Arbeitsmodelle von GREY, die die verschiedenen Vorgehensweisen vom Insight bis zur Idee definieren, bevor er bevor er uns, etwa 20 neugierige Junioren, Azubis und [...]

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