Monday, April 26, 2010


Are you really attending a "focus group?"

I never ceased to be amazed by the number of people who think they know what a focus group is and when it is appropriate to use one. Many times, people will call a meeting of a group of people to "brainstorm." It is really nothing more than a meeting to discuss new ideas, yet they feel impelled to call it a "focus group." Researchers are beginning to be annoyed about the term's losing its original meaning which was to formally screen individuals having something in common for the purposes of creating a focused study to determine a specific result or set of results.

Things like getting reactions to ads or websites, marketing promotions and strategies and to explore new approaches are more common uses of focus groups. More importantly, these groups are tightly controlled and modified by professional researchers. The questions are written well in advance of the sessions and go through a formal approval process with the client prior to the actual group. Most of all, the information is private and highly confidential. Here are some occasions when a formal focus group is warranted:

Total confidentiality is afforded our clients since the location, moderator, questionnaire design, taping and screening are all done in-house. There is no opportunity for the group information to "leak" nor is the mere fact that these groups are being conducted known to the outside world.

So, the next time you hear someone calling an ordinary meeting to discuss a single topic called a focus group, be aware that using it in this manner is truly a misnomer.

Friday, April 09, 2010


Tiger Keeps Me Busy

After I did an interview at the office for WCBS-TV' Channel 2 in NY, I was amazed by two things. The first was that they repeated the segment in thier six o'clock news, the late news and the next morning as well. The second is that a slew of CBS affiliates picked up the segment giving it much more exposure than I could have ever dreamed it could get.

Tonight, I will be doing a radio program that originates out of Texas on KXYL. I'll be on for about 20 minutes and guess whom we will be talking about! Clue: there's an animal in his name.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Are Music Videos Becoming a Format for Commercials?

This morning, I was interviewed by a reporter from USA TODAY about three new commercials that feature the above celebrity singers, almost as if they were doing a short MTV musics video of their songs. I was specifically asked to review three spots: the first one featured Martina McBride for breakfast beverage Sunny D ,the next spot starred actress/singer Zooey Deschanel ( for the Cotton Council) and the third was a Hertz spot with Amy Regan which is part of a broader campaign .

When asked whether I see this as a coming trend, I answered in the affirmative. More importantly, it's not just the format that makes them effective, it's the right usage of these celebrities in each individual case. First, Martina is a youngish Mom figure who probably buys Sunny D in real life for her kids and the song she sings is called "Shine On!" It fits perfectly with the theme for the SUnny D brand which is "Open a bottle of sunshine!" Perfect match of spokesperson, song and theme. But that doesn't mean there was a loser in the bunch.

On the contrary, I enjoyed watching Zooey Deschanel doing the "Fabric of Our Lives" jingle in her soft jazz style. The Cotton Council has a winner here because Zooey is not only the right sex and age demgraphic they want to target, she is also a fashion inspiration. Her love for vintage fashion is well known to those who follow her. She even endorses a line of sunglasses (in only five colors) that when you blow your breath on the lenses a pair of kissing lips shows up! Right person, right fell, right use of a celebrity---it all adds up to a whole lot of credibility for the brand.

Last, a new Hertz campaign features little mini-stories about going on a trip and then telling you about the "journey." Amy Regan's spot shows vignettes of her renting a Herta car, driving out Westward and having an auto breakdown...only to have a Hertz person arrive on the scene to get her up and running again. Her journey, by the way, was to appear in her first live concert. The theme for the campaign is "Journey ON." It's done well and I think it will be most effective as part of a series of similar spots which do not use a singer/celeb.

I'll be interested in reading the article and seeing what the other "experts" say.

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