The Power of Comedy:
4 Steps to Better Insights

21 Feb 2018
The Power of Comedy:<br>4 Steps to Better Insights
More From

Michael Roller

They’re honest and quick on their feet—and that makes comedians ideal sources for rapid-fire insights. Following a collab with “Funny or Die,” Innovation Director Michael Roller unpacks a fresh approach.

Innovators face many challenges throughout their process, but uncovering “deep” insight is a particularly cruel form of self-inflicted pain. For starters, innovators must get far beyond any established truths, of which their organization likely finds boring and “old news.” To overcome this, they’ll embark on more experimental, qualitative approaches that discover fringe audiences with new ways of thinking. If they’re lucky enough to find one or two gems, it’s all too easy for a skeptical leader to kill their momentum, citing a lack of quantifiable data needed to take action. Sound like a catch-22 to anyone else?

Over the past few years, LPK’s R&D Lab has been exploring new sources of insight to provoke stronger brand activation and innovation. One of our recent approaches—a collaboration with Funny or Die’s Pitch team—got a lot of interest, so we wanted to take the next step and explain how this qual-quant method turns hundreds of jokes into rich opportunities that inspire organizations to take action. You can download a case study here.

1. Define the Objective
As a case study, we wanted to understand opportunities that would help brick-and-mortar retailers compete with e-commerce. Seeking a range of ideas, we had to frame the challenge appropriately for comedy writers to have the right mix of inspiration and constraint. We settled on this topic: Reasons It’s Better to Go to the Store than Buy Online.

2. Gather the Data
In two days, we gathered 845 jokes from 178 writers! By comparison, it might have taken four weeks to get the same data using traditional methods. Imagine sitting through 30 focus groups. Pitch also collects votes on how funny each joke is, adding a quantitative lens with which to view the data. Here were some of the top pitches:

• You can’t trample anyone for the best price online. @joemedoff
• Your New Year’s resolution was to meet new people. @DavidMcGlofflin
• There are no free samples at @1AbbyRoad

3. Identify Opportunities
Normally in research, we’d be sifting through pages of notes to extract one or two gems. The unfiltered, creative wit of comedy writers means there is an ample supply of interesting content to do our synthesis. We identify opportunities that get beyond established truths and are also quantifiably appealing to organizations. One theme, “Engaging with the Outside World,” stood out as it was filled with the most creative humor and was also the most frequently mentioned.

4. Apply & Activate
Depending on the brand and its objectives, our creative teams apply these insights in a variety of ways. Insights can be used to inspire everything from near-term brand activation to long-term innovation ideas.

Usually, innovators are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to delivering “deep” insights at a compelling scale. By collaborating with thousands of comedy writers, we’re building a comedy-fueled approach that overcomes the barriers of traditional insights mining. By harnessing comedy’s superpower—lateral thinking—we uncover deep insights that fuel growth in three ways: strategy, ideation and innovation.

For a closer look at the approach, head to

As Innovation Director at LPK, Michael Roller’s commitment to creative work is guided by over 10 years of experience in the industry. An avid homebrewer, Mike uses socio-cultural ideas to narrate his beer recipes and label designs, taking a more holistic approach to create relevancy every day. Talk sub-conscious responses to design with him at @rollermt or send him an email at