‘Eureka!’ moments

How uncovering true insights drives effectiveness

What lessons can the 2020 IPA Effectiveness Awards teach us about the future of advertising? In the latest of our chapters from Advertising Works 25 – The Definitive Guide to Effective Advertising, Melpo Gkofa discusses how uncovering true insights drives effectiveness.

An insight doesn’t derive from a from a well calculated analysis between the pros and cons. A true insight speaks to someone’s psyche and it makes you think 'this totally gets me'.

The cases I had the pleasure of judging, all include an insight that truly gets the audience. Sometimes the insight comes from an audience segmentation (i.e. Volvo). At other times it comes from understanding how people interact with a medium like cinema (wagamama), from social listening or semiotics (Baileys) or qualitative research (Tango). No matter what source of data and research methodology they use, all these cases simply get the audience. But how do they do this? And what are the learnings for the rest of us?

  • Learning number one from Baileys, Gordon’s and Tango: Try to look outside the pre-defined boundaries of your category. There is no need to get obsessed about how people navigate the category. Instead, look into the emotional needs and values of your audience. See them as people, not customers. Don’t assume that something is obvious or too simple. Use your imagination about how to act on this insight.
  • Learning number two from Tesco: Don’t focus so much on the competition. Instead, focus on how to serve your customers better. W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne talked about this principle in their best-selling book, Blue Ocean Strategy, which described how ‘companies’ time and attention is often focused on benchmarking rivals and responding to their strategic moves, rather than on understanding how to deliver a leap in value to buyers’. Tesco’s case proves how focusing on customers in a consistent and holistic way can deliver phenomenal business results.
  • Learning number three from wagamama and Volvo: Don’t underestimate the power of media to connect with your audience. Insight can, of course, come from understanding the power of media touchpoints. The way people interact with a specific channel and the occasion of media consumption can be a simple but powerful solution for competitive advantage and growth.

Join me in a deep dive into these cases.

Focus on customers not your competition

Tesco – from running shops to serving customers

Tesco’s case is one of the most comprehensive cases of true dedication to customer understanding and service, which led to impressive business results. The turnaround at Tesco wasn’t due to the implementation of one campaign insight, but a consistent and well-coordinated effort over several years. New players in the category and new buying habits were challenging Tesco, once the dominant player in UK supermarkets. Crucially, its trust and perception scores were plummeting.

Instead of trying to react to the new competition and enter another price war, Tesco decided to do what it did best: serve customers. 'Serving Britain’s shoppers, a little better every day' became Tesco’s purpose and it was translated across all touchpoints (paid, owned and earned). New creative was developed, a new media approach, which better reflected contemporary media consumption, was put in place, and a clearer promotion strategy was executed.

Market reputation and quality perception scores bounced back and profit was restored. And to those who are sceptical about marketing and communications, a sophisticated econometrics analysis proved marketing’s impact on profit with an estimated average ROI of £2.73 for every £1 invested in marketing between September 2015 and August 2019.

Don’t underestimate the power of media

Volvo – a defiantly human success story

Volvo is an innovative and safe car manufacturer, but prior to this campaign, the brand suffered from 'boring' image perceptions. It was described as 'old' and 'boring' while its German competitors were 'young', 'fun' and 'trendy'. Volvo focused on discovering an insight that 'got' its audience instead of trying to deliver a trendier image and imitate the competition. The brand understood that its audience cared much more about how to make the world a better place than about status and economic success. This insight distinguished it from the prevailing advertising strategies of the premium car sector, which focused on success in relation to power, status, and cars. So far, so good. But I believe that what makes this case really interesting is the media execution of this insight. Volvo partnered with the Sky Atlantic TV channel and created seven docudramas about pioneers who have tried to improve the world. If this campaign had been executed as standard spot advertising without the element of storytelling, Volvo would have been unable to cut through. Instead, Volvo’s brand shone, and it clearly aligned with people’s expectations and aspirations.

wagamama – stirring souls and selling bowls the wagamama way, through the secret power of cinema

wagamama faced extremely challenging market conditions. Food restaurant chains were closing, margins were being squeezed, and competition was fierce. The team from MullenLowe and the7stars knew that, despite these conditions, the only right strategy was a brand-building one. Focusing solely on promotional activity would only make things worse. The beauty of this case lies in the fact that wagamama used cinema as a brand-building vehicle that cleverly drove sales too. The brand knew its audience well. It knew that in the cinema, it would find its audience not interrupted (by texts or social media), and, in a sense, 'captive'. wagamama cherry- picked cinemas close to one of its restaurants to show its advertising – a playful, energetic ad which suggested the chain’s food nourished the soul as well as the stomach.

In this way, it simultaneously primed the audience emotionally and enabled an action (visit a nearby wagamama). The choice of cinema was well crafted and it is no surprise that the campaign delivered brand and business results.

This is an abridged version of Melpo Gkofa’s chapter from Advertising Works 25 – The Definitive Guide to Effective Advertising.

Purchase Advertising Works 25
Last updated 21 April 2021