I have never been a fan of research.
It’s too often used to avoid failure rather than find success and at worst, is used as a popularity contest.
Both agencies and clients employ it as an arse covering exercise. At the end of the day they can always blame the research if it all goes horribly wrong.
The trouble with advertising communication is that there’s no guarantee of success. What works on the consumer with one product, won’t necessarily work with another.
Judging a creative idea isn’t easy.
When a concept is put into research, we are asking a bunch of ordinary people to rule on an abstract concept in a false environment.
Ten to twelve people are shoved into a strange room, behind a two-way mirror, and asked to comment on an unfinished, hypothetical idea.
They are rarely asked to be positive and assume the role of a critic, trying to find what is wrong with the concept, rather than what is right.
In these times of tighter budgets, research is often used to test strategy as well as select an ultimate winner.
Short-circuited research, like this, is more dangerous than no research at all. Its not single minded and ultimately ends up compromising all outcomes.
Even if there is no research and the client is making the decision, there still can be many problems.
They are judging the idea on many different criteria.
Is it on brand?
Is it on budget?
Will my colleagues like it?
Will my boss like it?
Will my boss’s wife like it?
Will it resonate with the consumer? (This is usually at the bottom of the list.)
Whenever I present a concept to a client, I ask them to immediately give me their first impression.
I want the response that first pops into their head, before they have had a chance to think about it and rationalise it.
This is the closest they will ever be to thinking like a consumer.
When we create an idea we take all the information available to us and let it stew in our brains. Then hopefully, the magic happens and we come up with a concept that connects.
We don’t know how it happens we just have a gut feeling that it’s the right way to go.
That gut feeling is the most important element in creating good ads.
Gut feel should also be used to judge them as well.