💎 Drowning in maths and starving for ideas (data is not enough)

  • Do you think Coke has data that Pepsi doesn’t have?
  • Do you think McDonald’s has data that Burger King doesn’t have?
  • Do you think Ford has data that Chevy doesn’t have?

Here’s my point – just about the same data is available to just about everyone who wants it. And if you don’t have it, with about two clicks of a mouse you can buy it.

It’s not the data that makes the difference, it’s what you do with it.

Give a mediocre person or company all the data in the world and they’ll come up with garbage. Give a brilliant person or company one critical fact and they’ll build you an industry.

Hundreds of physicists had the same data as Einstein. But Einstein had something they didn’t – the creative brilliance to formulate a vision of what the data meant.

The advertising industry – whose only important asset is ideas – has learned nothing from this. We keep heading in the wrong direction. We keep bulking up everything in our arsenal except our creative resources. Then we take the people who are supposed to be our idea people and give them till 3 o’clock to do a banner.

Sure, we need people who are tech-savvy and analytical. But more than anything, we need some brains-in-a-bottle who have no responsibility other than to sit in a corner and feed us crazy ideas. We keep looking to “transform” our industry but ignore the one transformation that would kill.

Excerpt from: Advertising for Skeptics by Bob Hoffman

💎 On giving people a licence to indulge (McDonalds salads)

My favorite example of this gap between the behavioral self and the aspirational self has nothing to do with reading, but usefully extends the foodie metaphor beyond doughnuts. In the early to mid-2000s, McDonald’s got more aggressive about promoting healthy options like salad and fruit on its menus. But its revenue growth in those years was due entirely to people eating more greasy fare, like cheeseburgers and fried chicken. New healthy options seemed to lure wannabe dieters into the restaurant, where they would order fast-food basics. In 2010, a group of wordsmithing Duke University researchers called this phenomenon “vicarious goal fulfillment.” Merely considering something that’s “good for you” satisfies a goal and grants license to indulge. People say they want hard news in their social media feeds, but mostly click on funny photos. People say they want to eat greens, but mostly order greasy sandwiches at salad-serving restaurants. People aren’t lying— they do want to be the sort of person who reads news! They do want to see salad options!—but mere proximity to good behavior satisfies their interest in behaving well.

Excerpt from: Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson