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Test the Idea, Not the Work
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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As we have written before, research in the advertising community gets a bad rap. Mostly because the way research is implemented in the process is grossly inefficient.

AdLand teases and is teased about focus groups, and how bad they are. AdLand scoffs at show concept ads, and how the early public simply "doesn't get it" or that clients rely way too much on the early feedback.

We would agree. The way research and consumer insight is done needs improvement. The communication and research needs to be done well before the ad is even completed. 

Way before the ad is even started, actually. Let's start on the idea.

In an article published by Agency Post, the author dissected a keynote speech given by Martin Weigel, head of planning at W+K. Wiegel's talk provided a glimpse on how W+K regards research. They think it's important, and necessary. However, they do not test the work, they test the idea, or the "creative hypothesis." 

Yes, it is important for advertisers to see if the idea they want to run with actually captures what the audience believes is the reason why they are engaged with the brand in the first place.

When this is done, and time spent on gathering research and testing the creative hypotheses outweighs the creative development on the work, the results will be well worth the investment. Why did your audience connect with your brand? What methods immediately drew them to you? Why did they engage with your brand instead of your competitor? Does this creative hypothesis capture those reasons? Is this idea simple enough for your entire audience to understand?

These are questions that need to be addressed before any work is created. We totally agree with Weigel; the research can help nurture the creative. 

It's nice when people who you think know what they're doing prove it.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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