November 16, 2015

Brilliant Idea Goes Bad

An article in Ad Age last week, entitled "Do You Watch Way More TV Than You Even Realize?" tells us about a wonderful experiment.

Someone at Hill Holiday had a brilliant idea...Let's do an experiment. Let's show all the "television is dead" morons how wrong they are. We'll do something that proves how much people love TV, and how they watch much more than they think. We'll rig a gizmo in their homes in which they'll have to use tokens to watch TV. And as they run out of tokens we'll video their reactions.

It's a great idea and it's well-executed.

But then it all goes to shit. Instead of being clear about what this video proves, the Chief Insight Misinterpreter, or whatever her title is, steps in and confuses the shit out of the whole thing.

You see, it's not enough to state succinctly and clearly exactly what the point of the exercise was.
Instead she has to go off into cliché-land and give it "context" within the prevailing marketing narrative. In other words, misinterpret, misrepresent, and misunderstand what the video proves. So we get this nonsense:
"The context of television has changed. It’s really not about watching television anymore, it’s about essentially being continuously connected almost in a way that is through osmosis."
Give me a fucking break. Only in the crackpot world of agency strategists is watching television "not about watching television anymore." In their bubble of relentless confusion, nothing about consumer behavior can ever be what it seems. It must have a mysterious meaning that only experts -- ya know, them -- can interpret.

Then we get the all-purpose strategist's banality, "control"...
"...consumers nowadays, they want to have that control over their viewing experiences, whether it’s 2 minutes on their way to the subway looking at CNN, whether it’s looking at a game with their family on the weekend, or whether it’s multi-screening when they’re doing the ironing in their home. It almost doesn't matter. They want to have control."
This has absolutely nothing to do with the experiment they performed. And, by the way, it's not just "nowadays" that consumers decided they wanted to "control" their "viewing experiences." Control is why, in 1956, God gave us remotes.

Finally, fearing she might not be sufficiently au courant, she has to drag us into the dreary sociology lesson that's been forced down our throats for over a decade...
"...we have to understand that consumers nowadays want access to video content whenever they want it, wherever they want it, on any device that they want, and most important they’ve got to have it on demand."
Which, once again, has absolutely nothing to do with the test they were conducting.

What the experiment proved is simply that people don't understand how much TV they watch, and how important it is to them.

And neither, I might add, does the advertising industry.

The Ad Contrarian blog will soon reach 5 million views. If you are number 5,000,000 take a screen shot, send it to me, and you will win a fun prize. Don't know what it is yet, but I'll come up with something.

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