Students: Don’t say you have an insight when you don’t. And don’t say you have a big idea, even when you do.

5th edition comes out January 2016.

5th edition comes out January 2016.

I’ve seen a pattern in student books over the years. The first of these two common mistakes is in the set-up, in a section students commonly title “the insight.”

Most of time these read something like “People buy this product (for example) because it’s the quickest way to clean the sink.” This however is not an insight, only an observation of what the product does.

Insights are rarely — if ever — about products or benefits, but about people; about people and all the nooks and crannies of our behavior and all the silly things we humans do related to some product, category, or service.

I’ll just throw out one example of an insight, this one from one of my own students, Brian M. In a campaign for Weber grills his insight was how guys (mostly guys, anyway) often stand behind the guy at the grill and give him advice on the correct way to grill a piece of meat. He called it “back-seat grilling” and in my book, that’s an insight. I’ve seen this behavior happen, but didn’t realize it’s really a thing until Brian pointed it out.

The other error happens when a student introduces a campaign with the title, “the big idea.” My advice is not to call anything in your book a big idea and let the person who’s reviewing your work decide whether it’s big or not. I’d probably go with something like “the idea” or “the work.”

That’s all for now. Look for tons more student advice when the 5th edition of Hey Whipple comes out in January. Ciao.

1 Comment

  1. The classic textbook on advertising.
    Pl send me a link when its ready to buy. 🙂


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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.