Ask what they want

Sally Edmonds PreinerSenior Research AssociateCriterion Research,TorontoI think there is skepticism, and I think there is boredom, and with some very rare exceptions, the sense that the commercials are speaking to someone other than the person who is sitting there.Now there are...

Sally Edmonds Preiner

Senior Research Associate

Criterion Research,

Toronto

I think there is skepticism, and I think there is boredom, and with some very rare exceptions, the sense that the commercials are speaking to someone other than the person who is sitting there.

Now there are some very real exceptions to that.

A prime exception to that would be the Sunlight detergent commercial, that suggests you have better things to do with your time than wash clothes or worry about whiter than white. That seems to hit a chord.

Alienation

Further to that, I would suggest that the alienation that [researchers] feel is coming from the viewer in relation to much of the commercial message that is out there has to do primarily with the creation of the material away from the customer.

Specifically, by that I mean we are taking concepts to customers for evaluation, rather than going to customers to determine that which would be the best communications.

I am not suggesting that customers should be creative directors.

Useful keys

But I am suggesting that customers offer both intelligent and useful keys to that which is important and relevant in their lives, and by exploring that earlier, we might produce communications messages which were more relevant and more interesting, and even funnier.

Another point I’d like to make about attitude: [channel] switching has created an in-home game that I would liken to Name That Tune.

People spend 1/25th of a second determining what the commercial is before they move on. ‘That’s an ice beer, that’s a tampon, that’s a diaper.’

We believe people are not button-pushers by nature, but rather that the messages are not interesting, they are not reaching the target market, they are not relevant to the audience.

Advertisers and manufacturers need to find strategic and regular ways of speaking directly with their customers so that they can respond in a meaningful fashion to their customers’ interests.

They can do that through direct discussion, through store checks, by getting on telephones, by using research groups.

There are lots of different methods and I am not saying there is one method that’s necessarily any better than any other.

But I am suggesting it has to be done on a regular basis, and they have to be willing to hear the evaluation, and they have to respond by doing something about it – by making the modifications to the product, or making the modifications that are necessary in communication, and that’s a neverending process.