Gut vs Data – Move over Creative. What Do the Numbers Say?

Gut vs Data – Move over Creative. What Do the Numbers Say?

Every marketing professional of a certain age knows the story about the 1984 Super Bowl commercial introducing the Apple MAC.  It went against every convention. It was audacious and bold.  It was visionary – filled with ‘never-befores’.  And most campaigns in that vein face the same sorts of hurdles that it did: The Board hated the ad.  It was expensive.  The Super Bowl was NOT the coveted advertising and launch vehicle it is today.

But that ad helped sell $150 million of Apple MACs in 100 days.

Our industry is full of great ideas that were based on “gut.”  Today, the metric is data – since it is so easy to come by and to extrapolate from, data drives more decisions than ever.

Even programmatic advertising promises to allocate your spend based on algorithm vs instinct.

I would argue that the campaigns we talk about – those that win awards, capture customers and catapult phrases and taglines into pop culture are based on “gut” more so than data.  Witness the following:

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign featuring “real women” ran counter to every beauty marketing strategy ever employed.  Moreover, a Frenchman headed the brand at the time and he trusted his agencies who “felt” it was time to show the face of “real” beauty.  The result?  A seismic shift in brand sales and water-cooler conversation.

U by Kotex knew that girls were tired of euphemisms and were ready for some “Real Talk” when it came to menstruation.  The result – a clutter-busting campaign that drove share for the entire franchise.  This was not data – in fact, the data was against these ideas.  It was “gut” that propelled these campaign.  Moreover, standard network television even banned their “Real Talk” ad campaign.

Broadcast, Facebook, magazines – you name the vehicle – are filled with by-the-numbers ads, banners, click-bait.  Rare is the one we recall by name, quote or that becomes part of the vernacular (anyone else remember “Where’s the Beef?”)

Open rate.  CTR.  IG Following. UVMs.  Followers.  “Likes.”  Engagement.  At the end of the day what touches you?  What made you laugh; what made you tear up; what made you REMEMBER the feeling?  Earning a click is not the same as earning my respect; my dollar or my mind share.

I’m not dissing data.  Not at all.  Sometimes the risk of going “unconventional” is worth the battle to get there.  That's what LOCC's ethos is all about.  Less tried.  No less true.

What campaigns do you most recall?  And why?