Friday, October 17, 2008

Opinion Leaders

The world is overflowing with research. Most of these solemn studies by companies, scientific associations and academics elicit a yawn, sometimes a grin and on rare occasions a jolt of surprise. Recently I got the surprise response to a paper from the American Psychological Association. These are not guys I follow every day but their finding is so much in line with mainstream advertising commonsense that you really do have to wonder where they’ve been for the past 50 years. The past 50 years of TV advertising.

Their paper claims that repeating yourself is more effective than a number of people pitching the same idea individually. In fact, they put numbers around it. One person stating the same thing three times is almost as effective as three different members of a group expressing that same opinion (well 90 percent as effective anyway). Of course this is one of the reasons we don’t do focus groups much any more. The talkative person in a focus group who is prepared to keep saying the same thing sways the rest. The result? Group think and the loss of what can be most insightful from the perspectives of different people.

This is not And/And it’s and, and, and, and oh… did I mention and? I guess my surprise is that this rather depressing fact of human nature has to be proved yet again, but that surprise is surpassed by something more important. I'm convinced that diversity of people, opinion and ideas is absolutely critical to success in a world where every innovation is quickly copied. The lesson here is clear. When you are looking for people to work with, go for the ones who think saying anything three times and repeating what everyone else just said is boring.


Richard Clark said...

I well remember in the early 90's having moved from New York to Venice Beach, being invited to work on the brand new Saturn Car TV Campaign. Hal Riney, the Agency, had all his creative teams pitch ideas, all different, all great, he did not then mush them together he chose a group of campaigns, that is what they ran with. Individual thoughts, ideas and execution. All the great ads I have been privileged to work on have simply been great ideas, usually conceived by an individual and rarely run by research or test groups. Those that went the committee route do not stand the test of time.

Anonymous said...


I believe that we (leaders) should scrap most of what we've learned formally and in the biz world up to this point.

There are so many "tag" phrases and "copy cat" strategies taking place right now. Corporate America needs to get back to the basics of employees, client services, and honesty. I have participated at the executive level in a fairly large company and I was totally unimpressed with the lack of innovation and commitments.

How about if we all roll up our sleeves and get back to the basics of hard work? I'm tired of much of the talk.

Check out the book Dropping Almonds by Bach Anon. Now that's a read you'll remember because it's not coated with crap.

Thanks for your posts...

Shane Wilson said...


I came across this blog post that describes the power of repetition as well.

Some often use these strategies for the wrong reasons to push their own ideas.

I think that apathy is is greatest fault in meetings etc because the right people often don't speak up.

Shane Wilson said...


Another site dealing rather with the brain and marketing this time. If you don't already it is worth a read.