Mind Games

January 1999


Mind Games

Unconventional route to consumers' thoughts

If you're launching a new ad campaign, you may want to call in a trial lawyer. Or perhaps a cultural anthropologist. Members of these and other non-advertising professions are finding work as ad "planners" – all the rage among agencies wanting to go beyond the limits of conventional consumer research into the hearts and minds of target customers.

According to The Wall Street Journal,a planner's job is to "unlock consumers' emotional connections to products," then pass the findings along to the agencies' creative teams. One agency hired a former trial attorney, expert at digging up evidence against plaintiffs in malpractice suits, to "depose" consumers in 12-hour sessions. The topic: their thoughts on vacation cruises.

Another, hired by General Motors, sent a cultural anthropologist to 18 cities to speak with garage mechanics and auto museum curators. GM also asked 40 focus groups such touchy-feely questions as "If GM were a person, how would you describe your relationship with that person?"

Jewelry marketers may soon be asking women "If a diamond was a person, would it be your best friend?"

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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