Insights & stories from a WARC Conference

Getting up early is not my favorite start of the day, but for the WARC Conference on Advertising Performance I was happy to make an exception and that’s how I ended up in my car at 5.45 AM, heading to Lille Europe to take the Eurostar to London. Exactly 15 hours later, I was back where I started – home. But I brought some insights, inspiration and great stories back with me. If you keep an eye on InSites’ activities, you will sooner or later find out where the inspiration took us, but right now I already want to share some insights and some great stories.

  • Emotions are the best predictor of advertising performance. The only problem is that there does not seem to be a consensus yet on how to measure emotions.
  • Great advertising (and great marketing for that matter) requires a model of how humans work rather than a model of how advertising works. Fortunately, at InSites Consulting, we use both.
  • Advertising always works. A report from Deutsche Bank revealed that any company that spends money on advertising & promotion, shows a better financial result compared to companies who don’t.
  • Consistency in advertising works.
  • If a viral movie has not gone euh… viral within 8 weeks, it will probably never do.


  • During the first World War, British prime minister Kitchener was the first to use the power of advertising. The posters he used to recruit for the army might seem pretty straightforward now, but they had a tremendous impact. Kitchener expected to recruit 300.000 young men in 6 months. However, with the poster campaign he managed to recruit 750.000 young men in 3 weeks. Why? First of all, there was little or no other advertising at that time. But more importantly, there was a common need to defend the country – the message was relevant to the nation!
  • In Korea, Turkey and Serbia, there is a countdown system that shows car drivers when the traffic lights will turn green. Because of this simple call for patience, the number of accidents due to ignoring red lights has decreased substantially. The Koreans were really thorough in testing this: they also experimented with a green signal to have drivers stop instead of a red light. Not very successful.
  • Paul Graham had a great metaphor to convince his clients to use social media. Imagine you have a party coming up and you really want people to think you are a funny guy. So months in advance you start making this great billboard, with shiny colors, laughing faces and a clear message: “I am funny”. Now on the night of the party, you go stand in the middle of the room, holding up your billboard for an hour and then leaving home, excited to see the results of your post-test the day after. Wouldn’t you have a better chance to reach your objective if you work the room, go have a chat with people, tell some jokes and have a good time? Great story, but I am wondering if some advertisers might think: “I will put up a big screen in the room and play a hilarious commercial. That will do the trick.”
  • Just adding “Drink Coca-Cola” instead of “Coca-Cola” on the Coke fridges all over the world, resulted in a sales increase of 20%. Apparently, it sometimes is that obvious.
  • In the ‘90ies, Felix cat food was a rather new brand challenging market leader Whiskas. In one year, Felix only had one campaign that they kept running, consistently showing the same cartoon with the Felix cat (who is probably called Felix), while Whiskas launched 10 different campaigns, one for each innovation they launched. The ad spending of Felix was only half of the ad spending of Whiskas. Nevertheless, in that year, Felix became the new market leader and left Whiskas with a lot of things to think about. Consistency in advertising being one of them.

And to end with, a great quote from Sir Chris Powell, who has decades of experience in advertising: “Make it good in the first place, rather than measuring your failures.” It won’t surprise that we have some good solutions to help you with that 🙂

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