Category: Research

Post-Election Lessons: The Case for Qualitative Research and Analysis (siteground)

This is not a political post. It’s not even about politics, actually. It’s about research. In the wake of this presidential election, many words are being written about why the so many polls, all those surveys, got it wrong. The reasons are complex, as you might imagine. It is also the case, though, that not […]


Sweeping Generalization #12: “Brainstorming is Dumb”

I read an article recently (in July, actually. I’ve been busy) with the catchy title “Brainstorming is Dumb.”  Caught my attention, because I’m a big fan of brainstorming, and facilitate “brainstorming sessions” fairly frequently. Turns out “brainstorming” is not dumb. A single technique, where people shout out ideas while others allegedly listen and create more […]


White Men, “Spicy Latinas”

White men run the advertising world in this country. And people – some of whom are white – are calling it out as a problem. Witness the recent “Open Letter to the AAF on the Ridiculousness of All-Male, All-White Juries.” Even though there’s the 50/50 Initiative sponsored by the Art Directors Club to get gender […]


Hard Truths About Focus Groups

In an interesting article titled “Hard Truths about Making Great Advertising” about a brilliant commercial (Apple’s “1984,”) Steven Stark takes aim at my beloved focus groups. The premise of the article is that “…truly great ideas are hard to recognize, hard to sell, and hard to keep alive.” And focus groups are excoriated for being great […]



I’ve used the same introductory spiel with focus groups for the last 20 years or so. It’s a mantra for me. I recite it, basically on auto-pilot, while I am reading the room, taking the initial measure of each individual via eye contact, and assessing likely group dynamics. The non-verbal work that I’m doing is […]


Time to Retire the Two Way Mirror?

A hallmark of focus group facilities is the two way mirror. Clients sit in the dark, behind the mirror, observing the discussions taking place on the other side of the mirror in the focus group room. Question is, in these days when video technology makes filming and showing our discussions so easy, is there a […]


Yes, and…

Yes, it can sometimes be difficult to get consumers to tell you how they really feel about an idea. And yes, sometimes you need to get creative in order to encourage consumers in research to loosen up, open up, and be creative in their thinking. And yes it is true the humor is a great […]


PowerPoint vs Word

For my clients, the question was answered long ago. PowerPoint. So why is it even a question? Someone in the QRCA forum raised the question, and it prompted a lot of discussion about what you gain and lose when the richness of all the words and stories that you get from any kind of qualitative […]


Right on Ad Campaigns

Two new ad campaigns debuted recently, both from Leo Burnett, my alma mater. Both campaigns are the product of a creative group headed by Jeannie Caggiano, with whom I worked, and who is a really smart and insightful person. One campaign, for DeVry University, captures the lives and mindsets of its target really well. It […]


Insightful Use of Technology

Happy International Women’s Day! Congratulations to the London agency WCRS who developed a pretty brilliant campaign for client Women’s Aid, designed to raise awareness about men’s abuse of intimate partners (aka domestic violence) and drive donations to the cause. The campaign is brilliant, I think, because it begins with a real insight about how we […]



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