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The100: Strategic questions, shopping trolleys and Air Horse One

I’m back. You didn’t notice. That’s ok 🙂 Neither did anyone at Watch Me Think towers (which I take as a compliment). On a side note, if you need any tips on hiking in the UK, pub lunches, theatre, museums and cinema, then I’m all topped up on that 😉

What is insight?

Thanks to the excessive pondering on the many walks, the question of what is an insight kept coming back to me. 

What do you think an insight is? 

I particularly liked Julian Cole’s 3m video on the difference between an observation and an insight: an observation being what people do, an insight being why people do what they do. 

It’s a revelation at the time, but in hindsight it feels like common sense.

I think we featured the what’s the problemvideo before, but it’s worth watching again. 

And seeing as they’re short and brilliant, why not also listen to this on the secret source of insights. There is a whole wealth of good stuff here, watch as many as you can. 

What insight isn’t…

More on this later; or for those of you who haven’t sat through my empathy & innovation presentation, I’m always happy to take you through it. 

If you’re asked a strategic question, don’t panic

The magnificent Russell Davies – who delivered a stunning session to loads of you on the art of presenting at the end of last year (if you want the recording, email me) – has remade a short video that he claims was the most popular he’s ever done. It’s called draw a triangle: a method to deal with any strategic question you are asked. Clever. He is. 

Horse Power

I’m always interested in how good ads come to life, and this is the story of the ‘greatest ad of all time’. It was an epoch when research was correctly ignored. (Pub Quiz fact: the v/o artist for this ad went on to write the screenplay for the film Sexy Beast.)  

Walt Campbell was the art director on the pitch. He decided to explore an idea the client directly wanted to steer away from.  The brief read: “The Guinness extended pour time shouldn’t be mentioned, as the dwell may well be a potential barrier to a younger demographic.”

(I personally think the Guinness Swim Black probably just beats it IMHO – you’ll see it in the linked thread.)

Talking of absolutely stunning adverts – these Science World ones from 9 years ago remain world class

Shopping trolleys and our behaviour

Rory Sutherland’s post on the origins of the shopping trolley (and the comments it engendered) has to be one of your 5-a-day. 

He talks about how people are strongly driven by habit and social norms. In that, what a product means to you is a bigger driver of value than what it does for you.

Hit the road Jack

Why did Jack’s fail for Tesco? It was a massive investment, but a huge and costly strategic error. I always wonder how such things can occur when a company has so much money to invest in advisors and research. Maybe they asked the wrong questions?

Do you want it cheaper? … Errr, yes. 

Good job they didn’t double down and do a Vegan Jack’s: has the appetite for plant based meat already peaked? 

The legendary Andy Cumming

I wanted to write something about Andy Cumming (of research agency Join the Dots, which later became Insites Consulting) who died suddenly in January. 

Andy really was one of the good people in the research world. I can’t imagine anyone who would not have got on with him. He was a top bloke, always enthusiastic and positive. A person who went out of his way to make you feel thoroughly important. I will miss him. Our thoughts and love go to his family, friends and colleagues. 

Timothy Chalamet and his painted gaming consoles

I didn’t want anyone to miss the annual treat which is Kottke’s 52 things I learnt in 2021. If I may be so bold as to draw you to numbers 2 (Air Horse One), 26 and 38. 

Blinkin’ brilliant

Big h/t to our chairman Alex Batchelor who spotted this world Lighthouse Map. The colours are the real colours. The patterns are the real patterns. The size of the dots are the relative distance at which each light is visible. 

It’s good to be back (honestly). I feel dangerously refreshed 😉 If you fancy a chat, let me know.