Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The F*ck Us Group

You know what this is, don't you?

It's a Focus Group room. My feeling on focus groups are very simple. I'd rather be at a funeral. Even if that funeral were my own.

That's how much I hate them.

Oddly enough, it's not the people inside the group, the ones stuffing their faces with wet tuna fish sandwiches and previously pawed-over M&M's that I detest. Though I do question the sanity of any person willing to give up a good three hours of their life for the opportunity to "critique" a TV commercial and take home $50.

The orange-vested half-wits at Home Depot make more money than that. And all they have to do is wear the veil of efficiency and answer questions with simple two word phrases like, "aisle seven" or "over there."

My greater scorn is for the experts in the foreground, the ones filling their pie-holes with artisanal pizza, gluten-free lasagna and previously pawed-over M&M's. The folks who insist good brand stewardship depends on the opinion of a 34-year old stay-at-home mom who watches Fox News but secretly adores Rachel Maddow's hairdo.

What's worse is these late night mental masturbation sessions usually take place under the watchful eye of the client.

Meaning, that in addition to witnessing work get pummeled by a grab bag of psychographic misfits including Active Motivators, Aspiring Explorers, and Risk-Taking Self Actualizers, one often has to endure the unwatchable pandering that passes for "account management."

The head nodding, the eye winking and the copious note-taking are all enough to make me wish I had pursued a career in lawn maintenance.

Every cretinous comment is dissected and parsed out, and not for meaningful marketing insight. It's all for the purpose of scoring career points.

"See…", a knowing planner will look over to the client, "...that's what I was saying in the briefing session last week."

That's what focus groups are about. Mealy-mouthed careerism. And anyone who says otherwise is simply lying. Or in Focus Group vernacular, they are a Persuasive Dispenser of Misinformation.

My feelings are best summed up by my favorite Anti-Semite Henry Ford, who famously said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

Of course, if further focus groups had been assembled, there would have been much disagreement, many tuna fish sandwiches and millions of dollars wasted discussing the color of these faster horses.

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