I’ve always loved to maintain David Ogilvy’s age-old belief that, "The consumer is not a moron. She’s your wife." But spend a day sitting behind the two-way glass in a research focus group and you can quickly lose faith in Ogilvy’s words.


The worst point for an advertising creative to be invited to market research is once the ad has been made and is being tested. It’s like overhearing nasty schoolgirls talk about you in the locker room. It’s like asking your husband, "Does my bum look big in these jeans?" and he says, "Yes."

It’s like watching the scene from Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle where the judge places the child in the middle of a circle and orders two women who want to be the mother to physically yank the child out of it. In short — it’s torturous. It feels like this because the strength of your creative skill is being put to the test. When campaigns and creative ideas are born, they come from a rich, beautiful repository of human observation that advertising people have learnt to build. But this repository is not made by science and the analysis of data.And the way we make ads is certainly not by staring at a graph or a bunch of analytics. Then why do we judge ads in this way? I’m going to say that campaign ideas come from heart and instinct because those are not dirty words. And I’m going to say it is the combination of heart, magic and logic, combined with the understanding of a real business problem or need as well as the understanding of the brand. Not all market research is evil and oft...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.