Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Am Actually Warming To Millward Brown

Like many creatives, I have always considered Millward Brown to be the anti-christ.

Everything I had heard from them seemed to be a guide to how to make ads worse. Often much worse.

And since nearly every ad on TV has 'passed' Millward Brown, but nearly every ad on TV is shit, I just assumed they were charlatans or fools.

But recently, I was sent a copy of one of MB's 'Knowledge Point' reports... and it's f***ing great.

Full of useful advice. And actual science to back up its claims. I tell you, the thing has rocked my world a little bit.

This particular report was about branding, and offers a beautifully balanced point of view.

They annihilate agencies who would make an 'art film' or 'random comedy sketch with the brand tacked on at the end', insisting that "The brand [should be] integral to the idea, story or structure," a thought which they also express as "Can I describe the story of this ad without mentioning the brand?"

But they also undermine the commonly-held view that an ad should have repeated packshots or branding, by demonstrating (with data) that "Strong branding is not achieved by showing the brand early or often." And "Brand linkage is not related to the time at which the brand appears in the ad" and "There is little relationship between the number of brand appearances and the branding score."
Best of all (for us creatives) - the Number 1 most important quality an ad needs, to score as well-branded, according to this new report from Millward Brown? "Creative stopping-power." (Which MB defines as 'involvement' and 'enjoyment')

Guys and girls, I reckon Millward Brown is our new best friend.

I'm now going to read the rest of the reports on their site. Maybe you should too.


Hamish said...

Is this their new manifesto? I have never, ever seen or heard of this 'creative stopping power' from Milward Brown. Sounds to me like they've just found a way to get creatives to believe their piffle.

David Warren said...

MB are simply repackaging stuff from 30 years ago because they've finally accepted that a lot of their 'persuasion' based thinking is incorrect.

Ask your friendly planner for a copy of "Advertising is publicity, not persuasion" by Andrew Ehrenberg and you'll see what I mean (written in 1998)

Another example is MB's Ad Clutter paper. Again, this is a repackaging of John Philip Jones’ SOV equilibrium theory written in 1989

On the one hand if MB helps to make these ideas more commonplace in the industry then that can only be a good thing. On the other, I cannot help but think of all those amazing ideas that end up on the cutting room floor because of Link.


yeah but said...

Wash your mouth out, Simon.

Until these guys stop pushing the absolute sham that is link-testing of animatics, they can write all the reports in the world but they'll still be responsible for the mass genocide of good ads.

They're no fools though. They make a killing off killing good work.

Don't get too cosy yet said...

Millward Brown are still long behind the game. Their foray into science/neuroscience methodology falls well short of world's best practice. Emsense, their first attempt, is no longer and Affectiva is no more than a facial recognition tool that claims to measure emotions - but, it doesn't - it measures facial expressions and then makes the astronomically giant leap to claim the expressions tells you exactly how people are thinking and what emotions they are feeling - it can't, it doesn't and wouldn't pass any serious scientific review.

follow up said...

Follow up to 10:34.The purpose of Emsense and Affectiva isn't to replace Link-Testing, it's to support it.Try and do a MB study without them recommending Link-Testing groups. But, it gets better [for MB]. First do Link-Testing to recommend a campaign. Then do the campaign. Then test the campaign again [with Affectiva], before suggesting more Link-testing groups to test the 'findings' of Affectiva! Then more groups to test the efficacy of the changes driven by Link-testing/Affectiva. It's a gold mine - of virtual zero value to the marketer - but $quillions to MB. The client can claim its been tested, re-tested and 'scientifically' tested - all under-pinned by Link-Testing. I'm not opposed to market research. In fact, I value it greatly. But anyone who believes this Link-testing, Affectiva route serves anyone but MB is kidding themselves.

Angry Panda's son said...

I've sat and watched these groups (as a creative). The responses that come back entirely depend on the interviewer and how (generally she) plants suggestions in their minds. A 'I don't mind it it could be ok' followed by a question turns into a 'no I don't love it, but...'

I've even seen campaigns come back with the recommendation not to proceed when 70% of the room were positive, thankfully the client was there and saw that too.

Clients that rely on research need to change their payment method. If MB or any other research group were paid per campaign rather than per idea or per session, much more honest results would come back. A lot of research is a sham, they kill ideas to make money and recommend no end of changes to the campaign the client likes and re-research them again.

And if I look at the most successful campaigns I've done, awards wise and sales wise, I can safely conclude research is for fucking idiots who don't know what they're doing.

Anonymous said...

What a lot of vitriol about Millward Brown! The majority of the comments made here are mis-informed. I can understand why creative agencies find MB an annoyance or even a threat but MB's approach is empirical. Facial coding is used because it relates to sales effects. Great creativity harnessed for the benefit of the brand does brilliantly in Link. Most of what people say about Link is wrong. Did Cadbury's Gorilla do badly in Link... no, it was one of the most engaging ads ever researched and set a new standard on the 'likelihood to go viral' prediction. Guinness advertising? Link has been an integral part of its success for decades. It's time to find out the truth. Agencies who believe Link kills all the best ads are totally and utterly wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think 11.48 was written by Millward himself. I was unlucky enough to go to a talk by one of their reps as I was genuinely interested in what they had to say, however, all we got was an arrogant speaker pretty much reiterating 11.48's statement - we're right, you're wrong.

What's worse is that clients then go wild if the final product isn't shot for shot like the animatic as it tested well. I wonder if it's not easier just to air that sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Ultimately the advertising agencies and the research agencies exist to help the client make more money. Ad agencies are more creative types, quant research agencies more scientific types. There's always going to be a big clash! But rather than knocking what each other does, isn't there a way to work together to come up with the best ads for the client?