June 18, 2007

The road less travelled

This is my crude storyboarding of the current Mastercard TV ad haunting British telly. The tale is quite simple: youngish couple go to some Balkan country (Bulgaria?) as part of a world tour, have ethnic adventures, blahdy blahdy blah, to the tune of something that sounds like Jose Wossname (the fella that did the Sony Bouncing Balls tune). All very soft and warm and good for those cockles that inhabit mawkish hearts.
It's nice and politically correct and inoffensive and annoys the hell out of me.
Let me explain.
One of the simplest tasks in my everyday existence is making sure strategic planners look clever. I'm absolutely shit hot at a pretty basic research tool called TGI, which I frequently use on their behalf. This (bear with me, non-marketing people) is a much respected survey of about 25,000 Britons' everyday habits, attitudes and brand preferences. There's lots more to it, but put simply, is a quick means of describing groups of people based on whatever criteria the researcher chooses.
The 25,000 people are, it is claimed, a good enough and large enough sample to represent Britain's 45 million adults (I'm taking a wild stab here at the numbers cos I'm writing this from home and refuse to be so sad as to consult the survey from here). The single, biggest fatal flaw in the survey is, in my opinion, that it doesn't represent the views of people who don't like filling in surveys, but I'm frequently being accused of being churlish when I point this out.
Anyway, what really fucks me off about this Mastercard ad is that it is clearly aimed at a TGI segmentation that emerges whenever one researches a mass market brand.
Pick any damn mass market brand that dominates its sector in the UK and you'll be guaranteed to find that something like 15%-25% of its consumers or target consumers fall into that group who, on TGI, are aged 25-34, ABC1, read The Guardian or The Independent, have vegetarian tendencies and (get this, it's absolutely true) "prefer holidays off the beaten track".
This young, hot & hip group always emerges, and any researcher worth their salt never stops there. It takes umpteen TGI runs, drilling down into the data to find anything truly useful. It's all about finding that "wow moment" rather than just grabbing the numbers that confirm the obvious prejudices. That's when you find the niche groups who are missed by big advertisers. That's when you work out the best innovative marketing to reach them.
To pick on this group and target it with this type of advertising is unremarkable, obvious and lazy.

4 comments:

loulou said...

I wholeheartedly agree. Its cack.

Charles Frith said...

Good post. Nice to see a creative getting stuck into what can be questionably irrelevant data. One of the largest philosophical questions with TGI though is 'are we targeting existing customer profiles or seeking out new customer profiles?'

charlie said...

Oh don't be such a cynical misery guts! What's wrong with a little bit of cockle warming??? Lighten up!

And by the way, the song is 'This is the Thing' by Fink, not Jose Gonzales.

FishNChimps said...

Fink? Is he any good?