What Deadpool Can Teach Us About Consumer Insights (No, Really)

Sometimes we draw inspiration from unlikely sources and the superficial, the light, and the playful can smack more sense into us than the weighty, the intellectual, and the studied. So it is for me now, where having reflected on some recent work in a week of food poisoning, travel and sleepless nights, a lightbulb went off on my iPad screen, and a voice of truth came through loud and clear through its tinny speakers.

Starved for entertainment that demands little and paints in easy to absorb primary colors, I watched Deadpool (which is very well-crafted and far exceeds the expectations of a typical superhero flick). When I considered what made it work for me, I found it instructive for insight leaders and brand marketers on how they can strive to create their own version of a Hollywood blockbuster: foundational work that helps them create something original that is grounded in truth for the audience.


There is truth in comedy

Deadpool delights (and is delightful) in poking fun at typical action tropes. Being subversive helps it stand out. So it is in our world where having a laugh puts people at ease and gives the audience permission to relax and be honest. Plus, they’re called audiences for a reason, because they like to be entertained.

A little vulgarity can be a virtue

Sorry mom, but it’s true. Perfunctory over-politeness dooms a lot of insights work. If people don’t feel free to offend you, you won’t get the truth. They’ll just tell you what they think you want to hear. And that wastes time and money. Things can be unpolished. They can be messy. They’ll help our audiences paint outside the lines and help us hone in on the breakthrough ideas more readily.

Self-awareness is the real super power

Deadpool knows exactly what it is. There’s no pretense, unlike insight and innovation work in which there can be a stifling degree of pretense. We should endeavor to know exactly what we’re doing and be willing to call it out and have some fun with it. We’re experimenting. It’s early. The clay on the table isn’t dry yet. We aren’t cutting the big checks to bring the idea to life. How about we free ourselves to try lots of things and screw up now and not later.

* I own no financial stake in Marvel and am not really a big comic book guy.


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