FEATURE1 July 2011

Diary: Disclaimers, dog food and Dominic Raab


A roundup of things that caught our eye in and around the research industry this month.

Aye or nay

Who’s the sexiest MP? It may not be a question you’ve considered before, but a new website, SexyMP.co.uk, is going to answer it for you anyway by ranking members of parliament by sexiness.

The site presents visitors with photos of two MPs and asks them to pick which one they’d rather sleep with. It’s like a recap of last decade’s AmIHotOrNot.com for those who were too busy studying then to join in the fun.

At press time, Conservative MP Dominic Raab was judged the most desirable man, while Labour’s Luciana Berger topped the ladies’ list.

Francis Boulle, who created the site, calls it a “fun and memorable tool” to help the public get to know their members of parliament.

Not all MPs feel the same way, but so far it has gone down better with the public than the Alternative Vote system did, and has now expanded to cover the Irish and German parliaments too.

Lack of focus

Viewers of The Apprentice on BBC One were treated to some great examples of market research in practice last month. In one episode the two teams had to come up with a new pet food brand, and one of the first things they did was run their ideas by focus groups.

The first team’s group told them their idea was rubbish – they went with it regardless. The second team’s group told them their idea was great – they ditched it regardless.

Vincent, whose team came up with ‘Every Dog’, ended up being sacked, while Glenn, who presided over the marginally less bad ‘Cat-Size’ (y’know, like cat’s eyes, only ‘size’, because it’s about staying in shape) survived.

The view of focus groups conveyed by The Apprentice is that you go in to a roomful of people, tell them your idea and ask them whether they love it. They will reply yes or no, but that doesn’t matter a great deal, since you then just go ahead and do whatever you were going to do anyway.

That might have been too- much-like-reality TV for some researchers.

Ifs and buts

The latest news from the Institute of the Bleeding Obvious is that lightning- quick disclaimers at the end of TV ads may give viewers the impression that the advertiser has something to hide.

US readers will be familiar with the convention, particularly in pharmaceutical ads, of a hurried voice reeling off a long list of ifs and buts at the end of an ad, usually explaining that this drug is “not for everyone” and that it may cause your skin to turn green or your ears to fall off.

The advice from a study in the Journal of Consumer Research is for advertisers to “avoid seeming sneaky”. The best way to avoid seeming sneaky is, in Diary’s opinion, to not be sneaky.

The name game

Market research is generally seen as a pretty straitlaced way to make a living, but the industry is occasionally prone to exuberance. One area this comes through is job titles. In the world of research, Diary is aware of a chief juicer, a chief happiness officer and a kreator-in-chief (that’s at Indian panel provider Krea). We once reported on the appointment of a dynamic business catalyst, and more recently have come across a chief integration architect.

But we should be grateful that things aren’t as bad as they are in other industries. At the start of the year Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times compiled a list of the silliest job titles of 2010, with special commendation going to Frost & Sullivan for
its client value enhancement executive. But the prize went to Andy Roach of FBM Consulting who calls himself a prosultant – a title which Kellaway says “is as simple as it is gruesome”.