at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Archive for July, 2008|Monthly archive page

Mojave Experiment Exploits Focus Groups

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2008 at 11:48 am

Let’s start with the main point of this here post. Product testing in focus groups is almost inevitably a sham. And frankly, you can watch this viral piece from Microsoft and you’ll see it play out almost frame by frame.

First, you recruit some consumers off a panel that is owned by the facility or market research firm. These consumers have given themselves up to the facilities and admitted that they are willing to come in and sell themselves and their opinions by the hour. Unlike isolated recruiting where you get “regular folks” here you get focus group folks pretending to be regular folk.

They start a group by disparaging the existing product, especially if they are recruited as rejectors or have an inbuilt dislike for the brand/product.

Then, wait for it, they are presented with an alternative. All the sudden they LOVE the alternative. It’s new, fresh, innovative! Clients wet themselves, moderator gets complimented for doing such a nice job, respondent gets 125 bucks and moves on to the next group knowing that they will be invited back because they just made everyone very happy. That person gets a little gold star in the database and makes more money in the future.

See, and that’s the rub, they have a built in reward for pleasing those people who have invited them to come.

The only real way that I have found to break through this routine (and it is a routine) is to ask respondents what they would pay for said product. When they name a price say, “great, I have a few of them back here let me get one for you!” That is generally greeted with a lot of silence and then excuses because it’s not part of the routine. You’ve called their bluff and now you can get down to the real facts about the product and how they correspond with someone’s pocketbook.

That said, the focus group is still dead to me.

Mojave Experiment in Focus Groups:

Overheard in Hawaii

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2008 at 9:22 am

oh dan

Originally uploaded by beau.ryan

Suburban Mom: Did you look in the phone book for a place to eat…
Suburban Dad: There isn’t a Chili’s or TGI Friday’s…
Suburban Mom: What about Applebee’s?
Suburban Dad: I didn’t look under the A’s

Me: (I’m not sure I’m a Hawaii kind of guy…and how freakin’ long has it been since I looked in a phone book for a place to eat?)

Do You Take Cash?

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2008 at 9:53 am

You might not be able to put a price on love but at least you can buy some office supplies… Nice work Office Max.

hat tip to Adrants

Ode to the Wire

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2008 at 9:36 pm

In a land where television is often directed to the lowest common denominator, I miss The Wire. Ok, I just said that for street cred. I actually never caught it when it was on TV but I’m consuming the DVDs like a thirsty man in the desert. I have to say that the season 4 opening is the most layered, insightful start to a season that I’ve ever seen. I feel like I’m loving Greta Garbo a few decades past the prime, knowing that there is an end and wanting to see every moment but not wanting to read the epitaph.

(and since YouTube (GOOGLE) is doing some Evil these days, copyrights be damned)

Obama and New Media

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2008 at 9:58 am

Another busy day here at headquarters but wanted to make a precient comment about Obama and his impressive use of new media. Over on his website they are live streaming his speech in Berlin (or at the moment, a lot of photographers taking pictures of people waiting for his speech in Berlin.) For once I feel like we have a candidate who is living in the same world I am and appreciates the power of technology to democratize not just information but democracy itself.

Nike Keeps Sticking in my Head

In Brands, communications, marketing on July 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm

This stuff is amazing and it is sticking to the inside of my head like Brown Eyed Girl at a kareoke bar.

Work vs. Inspiration

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2008 at 12:24 pm


Originally uploaded by Adam Preble

Faithful readers, I appreciate you coming back day after day to see that I haven’t posted anything new. It’s endearing and I’ll buy you a drink next time we meet. Work seems to be on overdrive these last few weeks and it’s killing my inspiration.

Which brings me to the strange intersection of working and blogging. I’ve been slammed with client work and learning all sorts of interesting things about the brands and categories that I’ve been working in. Of course I’ve also signed the necessary NDAs which make writing about those things punishable by death.

So while I’m learning all sorts of fascinating things that I’d love to share with you, I can’t. And frankly I’m heads down to the point that I’m not scanning the world as much as I’d like for the other new things that are happening around me. I’m sure this happens to other consultants but I also think that it diminishes the very value that consultants can provide — the outside perspective of the world doesn’t revolve around the clients products/services/experiences.

So I’m going to make an active effort to be a better blogger and consultant and get back to the scanning and sideways view of the world. Until then, hang in there.

Someone Needs a Packaging Update…

In Branding, Design, Packaging, Uncategorized on July 7, 2008 at 9:53 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

…as seen today at Duane Reade. Remember when VO5 was a cool, upscale product? After seeing this packaging I don’t either…

Invesco Just Won the Election Lottery

In Branding, Brands, Consumers, marketing, strategy, Uncategorized on July 7, 2008 at 8:47 am

invesco field at mile high

Originally uploaded by pbo31

With Barak Obama and the Democratic National Committee selecting Invesco Field as the host of the Democratic National Convention, Invesco just hit the jackpot. Granted, they might not want to be seen as political, but they’re certain to be mentioned thousands of times over the next couple months and featured prominently in the actual coverage of the event earning them a windfall of free publicity.

The loser, of course, is the Pepsi Center which was all game to get the coverage themselves. It’s a shame that Pepsi moved away from the “Taste of a New Generation” since it would have seemed so appropriate.

article here:

Creative Juice Squeezed Fresh

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Debbie Millman makes me laugh…