Viva’s Blog: Are you data-rich but insights poor?

Great data is crucial to understanding your customer. However, data alone won’t result in a win for your brand. Data are the raw materials needed to produce insights, the heart of effective advertising. It’s insights that enable you to develop messaging to create an emotional connection with your customer. 

So, once you have the data to develop insights, how do you determine if the insights are GREAT? Here are examples of companies that have used data to identify insights that have led to effective ad campaigns.

GREAT INSIGHTS are about the target audience — not just the product or service.

Activia Probiotic Yogurt recently launched its “It Starts Inside” rebranding campaign with a powerful video called “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t”. The campaign’s goal is to empower women to overcome their inner hurdles and unlock their potential.

The data: A study conducted by Activia revealed that 80% of women in the U.S. between 25 and 55 years old agree that they are their own worst critic.

The insight: Many women don’t realize that they are their own harshest critic. Activia developed the campaign to spark conversations and encourage women to achieve their full potential, inspiring them to rise above their “inner critic”. While the insight doesn’t tie directly to their product, which is probiotic yogurt, it does connect directly with their target audience. 

GREAT INSIGHTS reveal more about how people want to feel than what they think.

Unilever’s Axe has evolved from its adolescent phase and transitioned to a more inclusive, grown-up brand. The brand’s new positioning, “Find Your Magic”, launched last year with a memorable film of males asking themselves provocative questions including, “is it okay to not like sports?” and, “is it okay for guys to wear pink?”

The data: Axe’s research revealed that 72% of guys have been told how a “real man” should behave and 59% believe that they should act strong even when they’re scared. Mining Google searches brought Axe rich data, uncovering questions from males that tested society’s norms. 

The insight: Many men don’t associate the old testosterone-driven definition of masculinity with their own identity. 

GREAT INSIGHTS stimulate new ideas and approaches, not the same old same old. 

Bill Bernbach, the original Mad Man who launched the creative revolution in the 1960s with bold, in your face advertising summed up insight-driven advertising as follows:

“At the heart of an effective creative philosophy is the belief that nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature, what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action, even though his language so often can camouflage what really motivates him.”

Bernbach’s classics include cheeky ads for Volkswagen and Avis:


Developing advertising that connects with your customer on a visceral level is hard. While gathering data is important, data alone won’t propel your brand. It’s great insights about your customer that matter most. 

Are you data-rich but insights poor? 

Laura Sheridan
Laura Sheridan, Founder & President of Viva La Brand has a proven track record of effective branding and advertising, spanning over twenty five years with some of the best in the business: Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago; Hill, Holliday and Polaroid in Boston; and, Progressive Insurance and Viva La Brand in Cleveland. Laura founded Viva La Brand to offer large and small organizations alike strategic marketing expertise to catapult their visibility, growth and profitability. Viva La Brand develops effective brand strategies and conducts ad agency searches that successfully match clients with the optimal ad agency partners. Laura is proud to work with smart, innovative leader Brands in a wide range of industries from health care to manufacturing to technology and financial services. In addition to her work with clients, Laura is an author and speaker on all topics related to Brand.
More articles by: Laura Sheridan
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