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It's not just the reports. People always give the same answers when interviewers ask them the same shallow questions.

"I don't want extra services. Just make sure the core product works."
"Can't they make it cheaper?"
"It's too much of a hassle. I don't have time for that."
"They should put a puppy in it. People like puppies."

The interesting stuff comes out after 90 minutes and a cigarette break. Unfortunately, most interviews don't last that long. Or the person who writes the report doesn't consider it to be relevant.


Good point Camiel. I assume you're talking about focus groups.

The most interesting stuff is often left out at the research design stage because discussion guides are mostly designed to answer a battery of questions from many constituents, not to stimulate interesting discussion.

Reports suffer too because mining research for real insights is often about 'interpretation.' A skill most clients are not interested in because it takes time and is 'just your opinion.'


Focus groups indeed. Forget to mention that.

Those batteries of questions are often the research equivalents of 'what's your favorite color?' in journalism.

I used to work with someone who thought about answering the client's predictable questions herself to save time and money and use focus groups to dig for real (i.e. interesting) opinions.

Great idea. No huge success, though.


Guys - don't blame the research. Consumer trends are consumer trends and good research will uncover them - it's got to be a good thing the findings match up.

It's the brand manager's job to make sure the brand positioning is clear and unique. They have no one but themselves to blame if they are misusing the research or being led by their ad agency.

John Grant

Planners/researchers dont write slogans, ad 'creatives' do

There will have been something (a comic turn in a TV show or similar) which had them all reaching for their plagiarist pens

Consumer insight can be a lowest common denominator if the research is bad, but it ought really to be drawing from the abundant diversity oif human culture and be a unique interpretation in response to that.


Lee McEwan

Well spotted.

Inspiration for the product positioning and subsequent slogans of the two food examples probably came from the rather generic "insight" that convenience and health are both increasingly important in driving food choices. Healthy (good) and convenient (to go).

If you're looking for a possible scapegoat for that rather obvious insight then you need look no further than Datamonitor's "Health-on-the-Go" report which will have been very widely read by both clients and agencies over the last couple of years.

Incidentally, given that your post is all about plagiarism, then maybe you should credit David Boyle's book "The Tyranny of Numbers" for your inspiration? ;-)


Ooh, I haven't read that book. Sounds interesting though. I'll put it on my list. Thanks.

I agree that this definitely could be a case of creative plagiarism or brand mismanagement. What I'm reacting to is what I see as more than just a copycat line, but copycat creative idea. To me it seems like a first-thought campaign idea and one that I could see coming directly out of the "Health-on-the-go" report Lee mentions.

I guess what I was trying to say is whether or not it was a creative, client or a planner who is responding to information they're getting out in the world, you still have to do something interesting with that information. The point is that everyone needs to push the idea, and in these cases it doesn’t seem like anybody is doing it.

Steve Feinberg

This post was my first visit to your blog and immediately made me happy I found it.

My own metaphor for the phenomenon you describe is "parallel evolution"--the scientific term for widely divergent species sharing similar characteristics because they're shaped by similar forces. The classic example is sharks, dolphins and F-15 fighters all having the same body profile.

As a creative, I found the debate that your post sparked about whether the problem lies with lazy planning or copycat creatives to be a bit of a non-issue. As the old Certs commercials used to say, "You're both right."
Either sin could lead to multiple "Good to Go"s.

But there's a third culprit that more often than not is responsible: clients who woodenly and literally want their "insight" played back in their headline or tagline. It's hard to take "health on the go" to an interesting place creatively when the metric for "success" is how well people play back the words in the strategy.


Yes, exactly the 'tyranny' I'm speaking about: when creativity is held hostage by consumer insight - regardless of who is behind it. Pure logic is no substitute for creativity.

And "parallel evolution" is an interesting topic. Maybe it explains the similarity between the head of a Bull Terrier and the design of the Toyota Prius.


I too have been given cause to worry about the tryanny of insights.

However, what worries me more is that anybody would think that "Good to Go" even begins to resemble anything close to an 'insight'.

It's no more than a shit line that my cat could have written.

David Nottoli

I agree it is a crappy line. But that doesn't explain why four different brands are all using it.

Something else is behind it. And it's probably not one semi-talented cat.


I read the entire article and it kept takling about one and the same thing in different colors!
Being a researcher it was shocking to realise that Ad creatives feel consumer insight leads to crappy line :|, probably not.
when you are targeting the same audience its obvious that the insight will coicide.The creative minds can make a difference by unleashing what we called the Unique selling preposition.

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