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MT Rainey’S claSSic TexTS
TeSTing To deSTRucTion
How Alan Hedges defined advertising research
about how advertising works were evoking the edward de Bono metaphor
dog ged ly described and powerfully argued of drilling in the wrong place, in this
for by a handful of passionate planners, extract from chapter 6, Hedges specifically
inspired market researchers and brilliant argues for the proper formulation of the
creative individuals. advertis ing strategy and for the develop­
So, to kick off this series, i’d like to mental role of research.
commend the paper that provided a gen­ pushing the envelope, he says:
eration of planners and researchers with a “devising an advertising strategy is an act
rallying cry against “Testing To destruction”. every bit as creative as designing an ad. in
alan Hedges was neither famous nor flam­ fact, it could be argued that it is a higher­
boyant, but his simply argued 1974 pamphlet level and more significant act of creativity.”
inspired a kind of righteous indignation that arguably, in the digital age, that state­
helped to fuel a creative boom. ment is more true than ever.
The above is a general picture recent major market survey; a creative business judgement to
of a group of people, which is few bits and pieces perhaps from define how the advertising should
assumed to be large enough to published or government research; affect the chosen target group,
form a worthwhile marketing tar­ and the rest from reasonable again using research evidence
get. it is not important that every supposition or accumulated where possible.
member of the group has every experience, unsupported by The second part of the
characteristic described, but only particular pieces of research. positioning statement (following
that the statement as a whole may This latter suggestion may the target group definition) all too
be taken as a reasonable descrip­ strike one as heretical. But there often reads like this: “The advertis­
tion of what typically would be are decided limits to what re­ ing will seek to create a quality
found in the target group. search can tell us about the way image for the brand, projecting the
it is unlikely that the evidence a market works, and an intelligent benefits of the brand in such a way
for all this will come from one guess which is in line with what as to increase its appeal to the
single piece of research (although you do know is not only permis­ target consumer.”
it could easily do so). in real life, sible, but essential. Marketing This, again, says very little
some of it might come from and advertising strategies do not of practical use. it could be elabor­
last year’s data (where this may spring full­grown from the pages ated to show that the sort of job
reason ably be supposed to change of a computer printout. Those that the advertising has to do, and the
little from year to year); some purport to do so should be con­ kind of background against which
more may come from odd qual­ signed sharply to the waste bin. it has to work, can be defined
itative projects; the bulk from a devising an advertising strat­ fairly closely without cramping the
egy is an act every bit as creative style of the creative people.
as designing an ad. in fact, it could above all, look for under­
be argued that it is a higher­ standing, not just for statistics.
level and more significant area of you will never fully understand
creativity. it is an act of imaginative your market (and nor will anyone
business judgement to select the else) because it is far too complex
crucial pieces of information from and because it changes while you
a mass of source data and weld study it. But as long as you go on
them into an intuitive framework, intelligently trying, you will make
which will direct without con­ headway. What you are after all
stricting subsequent advertising the time is a better, more useful,
development. more powerful way of looking
good research can highlight at the market than your compet­
important relationships in the data, itors have. That is what strategy
but ultimately it is for the manager planning is all about.
to judge which are the decisive
factors for this market, which are
full text
the key variables that define this
available at
target group. it is also a matter of
admap February 2010
ADM Feb 48-49 MTRainey's classic txt.indd 2 1/22/2010 16:00:40
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