Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Focus Group

Today I took part in a focus group. I signed an NDA so I can't talk about what I saw in any specifics, but I can say that I got to see the story boards and concepts for four different ad campaigns. I'd kind of hoped it would be political in nature but there were no previews into Presidential ad campaigns for me today.

Still, I have to say I enjoyed myself more than I thought I would. Initially I was a little nervous about the way things were set up because I was put in a room with another twelve people and expected to talk about my feelings and perceptions of things in front of everyone. I'd imagined that we'd be viewing videos or something and writing things down, somewhat confidentially and privately. My previous experiences with group things like this (like a particularly dreadful playtest experience, where a vocal group bullied and drowned out the less argumentative types until the only people giving feedback were people who passionately believed X or who had been convinced that even though they initially thought X was okay they must have been wrong because those loud angry guys really hated X) was such a bad time, I was really uncertain about how a group dynamic would work. I'm not completely sure I wasn't wrong to be suspicious of the group dynamic. Tthere were three dissenters from the popular opinion on most of the questions, and I have to question how many of the people who ended up with the majority did so because they were caving to peer pressure.

Anyway, I entered the session being unable or unwilling to commit to an opinion on the subject at hand. It was something I really knew nothing about and I was unwilling to just "guess" at what I *might* think, uninformed as I was. Let's pretend the subject was "the sun." They would ask what my "relationship" to the sun was, and I might say "I know it exists." Then they guy would say, "But what if your friend from San Francisco called up and asked you 'What's up with the sun?' What would you say?" and my answer was "Give me a minute, I'll Google that and get back to you." The first series of ads really spoke to me and I gave a very positive response to them because they practically addressed me personally: "Hey, do you know what's up with the sun? No? Only aware that the sun exists? Come to www.LearnTheSun.org and find out some things about the sun that are important for you to know!"

I tried to give good, complete, constructive feedback. It helped that I had a pretty clear and strong one way or the other. In a couple of cases I was the only person to laugh at an ad that was supposed to be funny, or the only person to "get" what an ad was trying to say. In a couple of cases I really enjoyed ads that other people found "negative" or "gross". Many people got off on tangents with their comments, like "Well, I know this is a message about the sun but I think they should really talk about the formation of the universe and the composition of Earth before touching on the sun." or "Well, sure there's a web address but I think there should be a phone number and a place to call for brochures and interpretive dance. I think it's really helpful to provide interpretive dance when we're talking about the sun." Gah. After the session one of the other participants commented that she thought I gave really good comments which made me feel good about my answers.

I returned home to find that Kate had put dinner in the oven as I had asked her to do, but that the rice cooker has died (and taken three cups of my basmati rice with it). Boo. Rice was one of those things I hated to cook until I got a rice cooker. Now I have to replace mine... and figure out what to do with the three cups of uncooked-but-soaked rice that remains in the old, broken one.

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