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Views from Ringside

November 5, 2020

Unmasking the Truth.

The pandemic is opening a window to a more earnest and insightful approach to marketing research. All we need to do is go beyond the mask.

COVID-19 has advanced our internet-everything culture, along with the role of online research. Daily pandemic-polls, consumer behaviour research, brand perception studies, and COVID-19 data-driven insights fill our feeds.  

Qualitative, face-to-face research is taking a hit from the pandemic. There's no room for social distancing in focus groups or one-on-one interviews. The role of a talented moderator in any scenario is their ability to read people. Interpreting body language, facial expressions, and feeling is critical to hearing what people have to say. Add a facemask to the mix, and you eliminate the ability to read the room, probe provocative questions, or get to the heart of the matter. Well-documented research by professor, Albert Mehrabian, suggests that communication is only 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal. Non-verbal language is 55% body language and 38% tone of voice. Therefore, a facemask eliminates nearly 45% of context in conversation.

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October 15, 2020

Goodbye Brief. Hello, Inspiration.

There's been a lot of focus on changing the creative brief. We got rid of it and opened a whole new door to creativity.

As we know it, the creative brief hasn't evolved since the heyday of the Mad Men era of the '60s. Social media was 35 years away, Mark Zukerberg wasn't even born, and phones had rotary dials. Today, everything has changed, but the brief. Many agencies have tried to make them shorter, which usually leads to the same amount of information only under fewer headers. Others have changed the design without changing the content. 

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July 24, 2020

Don’t Get Robbed of a Good Reputation.

Brand reputation impacts everything from pricing to attraction and retention of talent, to competitive advantage and intent to purchase. It’s time to protect it.

Before quarantine, I went to the bank to sign some paperwork. The bank was closed due to an “incident.” While waiting outside for the bank to reopen, a man approached the door and demanded that the employee on the other side let him in, saying he was a private banker and didn’t care about the incident. He escalated into a swearing tirade against the employee who was merely following protocol.

Brand reputation is at the constant mercy of events often outside of a company’s control. As customers, we expect companies to act with empathy, but we rarely have it in return. A bank robbery should not rob a bank of its reputation, but in today’s social media reality, it doesn’t take much to wreak havoc.

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January 14, 2020

Distinct or Extinct.

Mother nature and advertising share a lot in common. The notion of adapt or die has evolved species in remarkable ways, yet, brands are dying at alarming rates with few evolving before it’s too late. The fact is, most brands do not stand out. 89% go unnoticed and of the 11% that are remembered, only 4% are remembered positively.* Few do what it takes to stand out or have the ambition needed to survive.

Some of the world’s most recognizable companies have learned the harsh lessons of survival of the fittest. From Kodak to Saturn, Blackberry to Panam, Borders to Tower Records, and more recently, Sears and Toys"R"Us. Ad agencies are in a similar state of flux, causing the biggest agencies to adapt or die. But is consolidation true adaptation? We’ve recently seen such consolidation through the mergers of legacy titans such as JWT being mashed up with Wunderman and Y&R with VML, as well as the slow death of recognized giants like Lowe Roche.

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