FEATURE1 October 2010

Ups and downs – Liz Landy

Ipsos MediaCT managing director Liz Landy on better PR for MR, BlackBerry addiction and killing jargon.

?The best advice I’ve had is…
from my mum who repeatedly reminded me to treat others as I would want to be treated myself. Other examples of her advice were to make scones for any man I was serious about dating and to read the news summary column in the Daily Mail before a dinner party to ensure I’d make an impression with my grasp of world events. On the whole, that was slightly less effective.

…and the worst advice I’ve had is
to buy shares in a dot.com company. Luckily I ignored it.

?”Among the general public, market research has a very poor reputation when you consider that the end result should mean better products, programmes and policies for them”

A campaign that grabbed me recently is…
the Compare the Market campaign. It’s not that it’s particularly aesthetically pleasing, but it is clever, and the brand and advertising is backed up online with an excellent website and Facebook page. It has wide appeal without alienating any part of its target audience, resulting in brand attachment and the feel-good factor.

…and a campaign that needed more research is
the Go Compare campaign. While I defy anyone not to be aware of it and to remember it, it is so irritating that it makes you remember not to use it. This campaign relies almost entirely on brand awareness which I think underestimates the expectations (not to mention patience) of its audience. As well as being able to recollect a brand, the consumer should feel good about it if you want to increase usage and brand loyalty.

One thing this industry could use more of is…
positive exposure, both in terms of the general public and in terms of getting serious consideration at the top table in client companies. Among the general public, market research has a very poor reputation when you consider that the end result should mean better products, programmes and policies for them. It is seen as something inconvenient and to be avoided if possible. Equally, everyone seems to treat the results of research quoted in the media with cynicism. Rarely is there any information given about the craft and complexity of research, or indeed the amounts that client companies pay to get accurate and actionable results in order to learn and to improve their products. Surely it would be better for the industry if someone took responsibility for some more positive PR that led to some appreciation of the craft and the importance of quality research. This would almost certainly benefit each stage of the research process.

…and one thing this industry could use less of is
jargon. It’s an irony that we take such care in being clear on how we communicate with respondents, yet among the people we work with we seem to make it as complicated as possible. Our industry is complex enough without exacerbating this by creating our own language.

One thing I hope to do is…
help make market research sexy again. To be honest I’m not sure research ever really has been seen as sexy, but it should be - it is an industry full of bright, creative and fun individuals. There is lots of variety in what we do, a great deal of skill involved in getting it right, and a real feeling of pride in a job well done when a product goes to market that has been improved as a result of our work.

…and one thing I wish I hadn’t done is
agreed, with relish and enthusiasm, to get a BlackBerry. This device is now not only my constant companion but a veritable addiction. My children view my relationship with it in much the same way as I would view their usage of a Nintendo DS (if I allowed them to have one) – with strong and vocal disapproval.

If I hadn’t become a researcher…
I would have liked to have been an interior designer. Partly because I have an artistic side and partly because I think the way people design their homes gives you another insight into their personalities.

…on the other hand if I hadn’t become a researcher
I would have missed out on working with a great group of people, and I would probably become obsessed with things that don’t really matter at the end of the day, whereas researchers have a chance to make a genuine difference.