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I love the Condom08 campaign – the perfect marriage of real insight, a creative idea and seamless cross platform execution driven by data and user stories. And it’s about sex, and everyone loves talking about sex. Particularly Swedish people having sex.

I’ve been having a bit of discussion about this with perennial provocateur Mister Corbett. His view is that it’s a great idea but it’s not founded on an insight.

“The only disappointment for me is that only 4 out of 10 people felt more positive about condoms. The campaign deserved better than that I think. However the truth is though that, while it is great, it actually doesn’t in anyway actually address the real issues with condoms – that being that they interrupt the experience. It is wonderful creative thinking – but not based around any true insight.  I love the campaign – I just don’t think it is based on an insight, I think it is based on a great idea. That’s not a crime – far from it, it’s fucking great”

I disagree – I think it’s genuinely insightful; it comes from the idea that yes, condom use is interruptive, but if you flip it,  make that moment of interruption positive (you stop to put on a condom and load the app, perhaps while boasting about how great your graphs are going to look, baby) you change it from being an awkward moment to a fun and possibly sexy one.

That, coupled with the insight that people are desperately curious to know what other people get up to in bed – for all we have access to more porn and sex blogs than can possibly be consumed in a lifetime, there’s a little part of every adult that still wonders on some level  “am I normal...?”* And nothing tells you what’s normal like some mathmatically vague graphs and stats.

(*FYI: you’re a freak. Embrace it. Life is short.) 

So is using the disruption of putting a condom on to feed our prurient interest in what other people do in bed – and secret desire to brag about our own prowess – genuinely insightful?

Is that truly an insight, or is it rather just an observation?

I think a handy way of checking if what you’ve got your hands on is an insight, or rather, a glibly stated fact is to imagine you’re a stand up comedian.

Will what you’re saying make people gasp, turn to their friend and say sotto voce with a delighted squeal   “I do that!”, or “my mum always…”, or are you more like that awkward stand-up whose set is a series of banal observations prefaced with “Have you ever noticed the way that…?”

An insight is the “oh em gee, that’s so me!” moment, the prod to the solar plexus, not the intellectually driven head nod. As Simon Law says,

An insight is a revelation that produces great work
(there should be a degree of “Fuck me. I never thought of it like that!”)

Peter Kay is a fine example. If you’re from the UK and have seen him talking about “the big light”, you’ll know what I mean. He presents the everyday in a way that feels like you’ve never seen it before, but with that telling jolt of recognition.

I’m here all week. Try the veal.

2 thoughts on “johnny be good: insights, condoms and comedy

  1. Funnily enough, I just one hour ago finished a book by celebrated American creative advertiser Phil Dusenberry, ‘One Great Insight is Worth a Thousand Good Ideas’. Great read, ironically full of amazing insights itself. I think you’d find it really interesting 🙂

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