Using advertising research in the 1990's, putting the horse in front of the cart

Date of publication: September 1, 1990


Due to the expected changes in the fast moving consumer goods market in the 1990's, in terms of the geographical expansion and increasing brand and media competition, it is assumed that advertising decision risks will be higher than ever before. Therefore, the users of advertising research may have to be more demanding, and the credibility of advertising research might face an additional challenge. More than any other aspect of the marketing mix, the advertising business, including advertising research, is characterized by a gap between "theory" and practice, together with - relative to the complexity of the subject - insufficient communication among those involved in the advertising development process. Not rarely is advertising planned, conceptualized, executed, communicated and researched with each of the involved executives having a different theory in mind. On the surface, however, the client, the advertising agency and the researcher seem to work in harmony, due to their agreement on rough denominators; the so-called "common sense", "pragmatism", or the like. The radvesult of this apparent, but not actual agreement, is lack of depth, over-simplification and stereotyped advertising and research practices, which often handicap the real understanding of advertising effects kill advertising creativity and make effective research bearly possible. The suggested "way out" is putting the horse in front of the cart: making the theory a driving force for advertising research practices, not the other way round. In the following report the effects of the current relationship between theory and practice are discussed and suggestions are made to both the users and suppliers of advertising research, as to how the 1990's users can be helped and the validity/credibility of advertising research enhanced.

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