Nate Silver is famous for making dead-on predictions. Having made a name for himself in baseball, he has turned to politics. In the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, he correctly picked the winner in each of the 50 states. An impressive feat. But according to Silver it’s not all about analysis.

In a recent interview with CNN, Silver talked about the importance of being able to separate ‘signals’ from the ‘noise’ if we are ever going to get better at understanding human behavior. Signals are things we should focus on. They are the real influences that drive people and their actions. At Saatchi & Saatchi we spend time with people to get to the heart of how brands and products affect their lives. Xploring is what we do to search out those signals. Surveys, questionnaires, focus groups – anything that doesn’t get intimate contributes to noise.

Advertising is more sophisticated today than it was five years ago. We have more access to information on demographics, behavioral prompts and brand loyalty than ever before. We think we can make a pretty good guess at what works and what doesn’t. But the beauty of the human condition is that there is always that little bit of mystery. We are creatures of habit, but we’re also emotional and often irrational. Cutting through the noise in people’s lives and leaving a mark is our challenge. The outcomes of elections can be predicted. But getting people to fall in love with brands is a lot harder.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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