Australian advertisers and their agencies are too fixated on research and play too safe

In a recent article on B&T on-line, Jacques Burger, the South African managing director of The Campaign Palace in Sydney and national CEO argues that “People go with their gut because they like it. Australia is too safe, its way too safe. Clients are too safe. I think it has become fixated on research in a bad way.”

In Australia for just over 10 months, he views the local advertising scene as “too safe”.

“I sometimes get the sense that in Australia we are stuck somewhere in the middle, where we are not as maverick as South Africa, and we are not as evolved in terms of understanding how and when research can play a role. In that middle space we are using that research but not in the most effective way. I think clients aren’t brave enough.”

My comments posted in relation to the artcle follow:

“Jacques Burger’s comments are great. His confident and confrontation commentary is sure to generate debate. In saying this, Burger’s points largely repeat the deep-seated view that research and successful advertising are bitter rivals. David Ogilvy made his famous quote many moons ago “we all have a tendency to use research as a drunkard uses a lamppost – for support, but not for illumination.” It is nice sometimes to reflect on such wisdom. No matter how things change, the fundamentals still remain.

As the founder of a progressive Australian research agency, I read the above article with limited surprise. Great ad research ‘should’ provide courage for big ideas, and reality as to the challenges ahead. Research should never be the way it ‘must’ be. Research should be about creative precision and focus, and ensuring consumer relevance. At its core, great research should minimise boring and pointless advertising. Sometimes it’s about keeping it real and cutting the bull-shit.”