Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The industry of advertising, in which I work, is an interesting one. But of all the peculiar elements, none rival that of the focus group. This leads me to today's blog post. As I write this, I'm sitting behind a large one-way mirror witnessing a small group and a moderator discuss some campaigns I recently helped develop for the state of Utah.

Earlier this morning, I boarded a plane to Orange County to attend two two-hour focus groups, each with six individuals. These individuals were all pre-screened to fit the target audience criteria in which the campaigns were developed. The two groups were also separated by age. The earlier group consisted of the young rebel rousers, while the current group consists of the moldy oldies. In the earlier group, one particular individual stole the show. Allow me to introduce you to Brian, a young, single asian fellow with nothing to lose.

MODERATOR: So, what do you look for when you go on vacation?

ALLEY: Good food.

MODERATOR: Oh okay. So good food is something that's important to you?

BRIAN: Yes totally. If you get some bad food, you might be sick for the rest of the trip.

MODERATOR: Oh, okay...

Later on, the moderator left the room for a moment leaving the group all alone. Brian saw this as an opportunity.

BRIAN: Hey guys, want to hear a joke? A blind guy walks into a room holding up a stale piece of bread and says, "Who the hell wrote this!!??"

The moderator returned and continued the focus group. At this point Brian decided to start inventing words. My personal favorite was, "imagistric." I believe he was referring to our ads having a lot of imagery, but when it comes to Brian, one can never be too sure.

The current group is skewed much older in age. I'll walk you around the room to give you a better visual of what I'm working with here. At the end of the table we have Tamara. She's in her late 40s. She's single and enjoys riding her Harley. She has a son and a grandson. Oddly enough, I'm wildly attracted to her, but that's neither here nor there.

Next to Tamara sits Maria. She hasn't said a word all night. Next to Maria sits Donna. Now let me tell you, Donna has some amazing teenage kids. Her daughter is all-state in track and volleyball, while her son is the captain of the football team. And oh boy, do they have some good times. How are said times relevant to our focus groups? Good question.

Across the table sits Gary. No doubt about it, Gary is publicly intoxicated. It is quite obvious he hit the sauce in preparation for this marketing exercise.

GARY: Is it just Utah or the whole state?

Next to Gary sits Rick. He's a stern grandfather type. He owns a yacht and a plane. How do I know this? Well, because he's only managed to include this useless information in every single thing he's said.

And finally, we have Michael. Michael comes from the school of hard knocks. His slicked back grayish white hair mingles with a matching cookie duster, separated by a pair of dimmed prescriptions. He's a man of simple words and for some reason has a cocktail napkin sticking out the back of his collar. For the life of me I can't figure out how it got there. In your front pocket? Sure. Sticking out of your sleeve? Perhaps. Stuck to the bottom of your shoe? Sure. The back of your shirt collar? Amazing.

Finally, the group is wrapping up. It appears Gary wrote down some Utah taglines and wanted us to consider them.

GARY: I wrote down a slogan. I don't know, these things just come to me.

UTAH: Think Global For Change.


Blogger more caffeine, please said...

Oh, me! Pick me! I have an idea! Ready? Okay, here goes. "Don't waste Utah." Eh, eh???

9:48 PM

Blogger The Deafening said...

that's funny

10:34 PM

Blogger +spencer+ said...

sounds like thousands and thousands of dollars well spent.

9:32 AM

Blogger c jane said...

More about your wild attraction to Tamara please.

7:58 PM

Blogger :: STEVE :: said...

Ha. I can't explain it. I don't know if it was the whole "older woman" thing or what, but I had a total crush.

11:16 PM


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