Oct 4, 2007

1984 All Over Again

In what's sure to become a legend among ad folks, Arnold focus-grouped an "board-o-matic" of the classic "1984" commercial with real live people (who'd presumably never seen it) and then created this video, which includes "recommendations" from the focus group for the Hatch Awards, a well-known Boston-based award show.

As you may have guessed, the reason this will become legendary is that the focus groups hated the spot, generally considered one of the best TV commercials ever made, and their recommendations on how to improve it are universally awful.

Thanks to Catherine Taylor and her most excellent Adverganza blog for bringing this to our attention.

I've always wanted to take a bunch of famous movie scenes-- Rhett and Scarlett in Gone With The Wind, DeNiro in Taxi Driver, Cruise in Risky Business, Bogey & Bacall in Casablanca-- and make them into animatics, with agency people providing bad voiceovers. Just to show how absurd the whole notion of testing TV commercials in this format is.


LimitedTimeOffer said...

Fantastic example of why focus groups are completely flawed in methodology. Even if shown the actual produced ad I doubt they would have had a better reaction or useful feedback.

That said, I don't think I've ever asked for "improvements" or suggestions from the groups. I'm thinking they included that to make the responses & video even more ridiculous.

Alan Wolk said...

LTO- glad you're posting regularly.

FWIW, I've seen a few focus group reports that add in creative "suggestions" from the focus group attendees. Mostly the few times I've done work on packaged goods. But you're right in that it's not all that common.

Anonymous said...

Flawed indeed.

Like to see that clip played for the first generation of Mac users who are still with the brand. See how it changed their lives.

Anonymous said...

pity the film is a scam.

Alan Wolk said...

A scam? Can you give us some details?

Anonymous said...

i've been involved in mercifully few focus groups in my career, thank god, but this about sums it up.

i've never understood how marketers can abdicate decision making to research. imagine if we all did that. it's their bloody job! jesus, it's neither that hard nor that important.