Inspiring growth on the Brandstage

by Nigel Hollis | February 07, 2018

New insights that marketers can use to inspire people to change their behavior are critical to driving brand growth. And what better way to learn how best to put those insights into action than using the power of improvisation? In this post Tim Kibbey and Patty Bloomfield of Kantar Millward Brown, Firefly Practice, explain how it works.

A very senior marketer once said “99 percent of a great insight is the action it inspires.” This highlights the importance of not only finding new insights, but figuring out what to do once you’ve identified them. To that end, Brandstage is based on a collaboration between The Second City Works, the first ever on-going improvisational theatre troupe based in Chicago, and Firefly, Kantar Millward Brown’s qualitative practice who bring expertise in uncovering human truths. This unique combination became a breeding ground for converting great insight into valuable actions to help brands uncover opportunities, refine positioning and develop stronger creative concepts. 


Brandstage sessions invite real people representative of a target audience into a theater environment, where they are asked to share their thoughts feeling and opinions on a variety of topics. Their feedback serves as ‘prompts’ which spark the creation of in-the-moment improvisational scenes acted out by skilled Second City performers. The performers become, in effect, human stimuli. In an iterative fashion, Firefly moderators then talk with the audience about their reactions to the scenes, resulting in a deeper understanding of their needs, and what potential actions could be taken on the insights at hand. Hilarity often ensues, and the unexpected always occurs, which has resulted in breakthrough ideas on how to act upon insight.

Why does Brandstage work?  It’s disarming: Consumers see their perspectives acknowledged and reflected on stage. They share more boldly and honestly; humor gives them permission to be vulnerable. It’s generative: Improvisation generates scenarios, characters, quotes, and metaphors faster than any other process. It’s collaborative: Improvisation is an ensemble-based art form. In Brandstage, everyone works side by side to discover new territories, ideas and insights, blurring the lines between the different functions within client teams and between clients and their consumers.  It’s preemptive: By collaborating directly with consumers in the insight phase, there is a greater chance of getting it right in the execution phase.

Brandstage has proven itself to be a highly engaging way to help brands clarify and reposition themselves, inform creative development, and inspire new product development. Click here or contact us

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