I learned a lesson today during concept testing.
Ahhhhh concept testing. I’ve been working remotely this week. So much for vacation! And spent the afternoon yesterday watching concept testing groups.
Now, I understand why we do concept testing. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. There’s a certain helplessness about watching people dissect your ads in a way in which they never would when watching them on TV. And there are so many frustrations. Like the fact that they are done in the style of “board-o-matics” (see above video for example). And that you can’t capture the spirit of any film in that style. And the simple act of sitting around talking about the animated boards of the infant of an idea just isn’t what consumers WOULD do.
And back to the helplessness. I sat in concept testing once for a SOYJOY spot (see here for the spot), and in the board-o-matics, some soy beans use a hi-liter as a battering ram against jelly beans as they battle to be your afternoon snack. One woman thought that “hi-liter” could be misread as Hitler. And spent the rest of the session saying that the commercial reminded her of Hitler (see here for the infamous soy bean Hitler reference). And you just sit there, and watch through the glass, as people say some ridiculous things. People say they want features, and specs, and price points, and about twenty more things than could ever fit in a :30s commercial. And about a hundred more things than could ever fit in a good :30s commercial. And at the end of the day, people want to be entertained. Or shocked. Or laugh. Or cry.
Otherwise we’d all just be running regional local dealer MSRP spots.
And there’s something about the group mentality that can bring out the negative nancy in everyone or the yeasayer in everyone. It’s a pain to have an entire group of strangers who were paid to sit in a room and talk about your idea bash it. But it’s also a pleasure to have people like it. Which leads me to my main conclusion on concept testing:
The pains of concept testing may be just an ego thing. And it’s a good lesson in learning to take criticism. So we’ll just have to take a breath, roll with the punches and know that it’s for the betterment of our work and for the health of our client’s business.
Because before you run off spending millions of dollars on media and production, maybe you want some security knowing people are going to like the stuff you put in front of them. I can’t think of a better way to do it. Just doesn’t mean I have to like the process as much as I like the other aspects of my job.
And to cheer us all up, I’m glad they made 1984. Enjoy it. We hope they’ll make one of our two spots getting tested today!