Not really, but this seems to be the general perception. Which is terrible, because advertising should, for all intents and purposes, be the art of differentiation. Ideally, differentiation based on real, true value that is relevant for the target audience. But we don’t live in an ideal world.
But for years now, advertisers couldn’t differentiate what-so-ever, and thus have indeed degraded marketing into showing pretty pictures and lying about the product. And pretending to everyone in general. They pretend to their target group, pretending to know what the target group needs and wants. They pretend to their clients, pretending that they know what they are doing. Pretending that they know the target group. Pretending that they know what they are doing. And most sinfully of all; pretending that they spend their client’s money well on campaigns that will have the desired effect.
But most important of all; they lie to themselves. Creatives at agencies lie to themselves, and end up believing their own pretense. They believe that they are good at what they do, and pull explanations out of their ass to show why what they do is so amazing. They believe that they know their target group. They believe that they create value.
They pretend to have insight.
A select few are right to believe so. But most agency creatives believe their own pretense act to make their work seem worthwhile and motivate them to go on, or to give their employers a reason to be paying them. So what’s the problem?
Let us examine the greatest question that is at the core of the futility of all of these crashed campaigns; what is insight?
Insight is currently vaguely defined as understanding the needs and wants of your target group, and building on this insight will satisfy these needs and wants leading to a successful campaign.
In practice, this is implemented in two possible ways, as follows:
#1 Half-assed insight
We need a campaign to sell telecommunication packages to young adults. Let’s see what we know about young adults. Oh… Nothing… Crap. Let’s see, who could know something about them…. Oh, I know, the people that see them all the time!
So, let’s call in fashion designers, DJs, baristas, maybe even psychologists researching them. Let them say what the internet generation wears, listens to, eats, drinks, and how they behave.
…Because God forbid we ask the target audience and gain at least second hand insight from them. What do they know, they’re only the people we are trying to sell to… Yuck, who wants to talk to them?
While this will not work overly amazingly, nonetheless, at least it will be SOMEWHAT closer to what our target is like than the second approach:
#2 Insight pulled right out of my ass
We need a campaign to sell telecommunication packages to young adults.
Right, screw asking anyone. That’s such a hassle. I don’t want to work anyway, I just want to look like I’m busy and useful.
So what do we know about them? Errrrr… Still nothing… Oh that’s a load of bullshit, I know lots about them, I see them all the time! On my way to work… and… uhhh… on my way home from work… and ummm… when I buy groceries… I guess…? Seriously I definitely vaguely remember seeing a teen behind me when I bought chips and beer last Saturday… I know all there is to know about them!
So, let’s pull every single stereotype there is in existence right out of our asses during a 5 hour brainstorming session, then throw away what we don’t need and keep those used the least in the past month.
YEY! WE GOT OUR CAMPAIGN!!!!! The client will love it! Will the kids love it? Who gives a shit, I made a campaign!
The problem is, neither of these is insight. We say it is, and as long as our client believes us, we get to keep our jobs and we get paid. Yey!
Even the vague definition isn’t insight. That comes AFTER we have insight.
And just now, we arrived at the core of our problems; why most marketers over the age of 25-30 have zero insight about Generation YZ.
Because they simply don’t. And they never really will. And if someone says they will, they are incorrect. And here is why:
These people have zero contact with their target group. A 3 hour talk session with a kid won’t do jack shit for you, because you gain information. Not insight. You will know what they wear, listen to, eat and drink. But you will not know what drives them. That driver, that you don’t know what it is, THAT, my friend, is the insight you will never have.
If you are not exposed to them on a daily basis, you will not gain insight. If you are exposed, but don’t pay attention, you won’t gain insight. People aren’t that simple anymore.
This is the age of the internet. Memes, trends, communicational channels, language, slang, and all that jazz changes from one second to another. If you want to be authentic, you should keep up with them. But you won’t.
Because you’re old. I’m sorry, but that’s the inconvenient truth. I’m just honest with you, which I guess is why you are here reading this right now.
Okay, okay, don’t lose your shit. What I mean is that you’ve grown out of being a kid. You’re 30, you pay bills, take care of a dog, perhaps even raise your children. You talk, walk and think differently. You can’t put yourselves in the shoes of a kid 10 years younger, who was born iPad in hand.
And you can’t do that. Well, I mean, you’re certainly capable of doing so, as examples show, many do that. What I’m saying is, YOU CAN’T ALLOW YOURSELF to do that. Not in your position. Not with your responsibility. Not for your salary.
Your age is irrelevant here. Because you’re 25-30 years of age in terms of time elapsed since you began your life on this planet as an infant. And you are 85 as a creative.
See, if you don’t open up to the internet, you don’t have interest, motivation, desire to create relevant things, you might as well retire. You may know a whole lot about YZ. But knowing them is not enough, you got to understand them. That’s how you get insight. Otherwise, you get stereotypes.
I myself have grown out of this too. It just so happens to be that my age differential isn’t all that big, and for the time being, I still mix with those 3-5 years younger, so I pick up their style.
But you. You, my dear creative friend. You won’t ever get insight. Not with your current lifestyle, anyway.
If you sit in an office, from 9 to midnight or later… Well… Where in the ever loving fuck would you get your insight? Browsing 9gag in lunchbreaks? Reddit? YouTube? Gimme a break…
So you have three options:
- You stay forever young. You just spend your free time mingling with people 10 years younger and stay a kid forever. This would of course in terms of work, be ideal. In terms of personal life… Not so much
- You talk to your manager. Tell them you need to get out during the day. Make way in your work schedule to gather not only online, but offline firsthand insight. Go places they go. Do what they do. Talk to them. Chat with them. Understand them
- Get an internal Generation YZ member at your agency/company, who can judge what works and what doesn’t. If not internal, get external audits.
In any case, don’t bullshit. Don’t pretend. Don’t believe that you know what you’re doing if you have no idea. Get real insight.
And in any case, keep reading yzinsight.com 😉