02 February
2008

Focus groups and polling have become a standard approach not only for advertising, but also for developing political platforms or even for developing courses. Even research, to some extent, develops by building consensus, but sometimes this just doesn't allow for creative leaps and exceptional judgement. In some ways, this lowers the creative process to the lowest common denominators. There are lots of stories of scientists having this kind of breakthrough, but here's a well documented one from advertising (with an amusing video).

Here's a good example. The "1984" Apple advertisement has been cited and one of the most creative and influential advertisements of the 20th century. There's a real focus group of people who have never seen it commenting on it.



Now the focus group is not alone. Most of Apple's board also disliked the ad when the y first saw it (before it was ever aired), decided not to air it, and Mike Markkula supposedly said "Who wants to move to find a new agency?"

After it aired it immediately received immense publicity and recognition. It proved to be highly memorable and won over 30 awards. In a 2004 USA today article, Kevin Manley said "Twenty Super Bowls later, many tech industry leaders say the ad and the first Mac played an inspiring role in their career paths."

For the record, the actual final ad can be seen here. Steve Jobs authorized it after trepidation by his predecessor. It was directed by Ridley Scott and the production apparently had a budget of $900,000.



The take home message? Sometimes when you have a creative vision you have to follow your own instinct and ignore other people's advice.

Of course sometimes, a bad response results from not pitching your idea well. Here's a link on grant proposal writing that deals with that issue.


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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