Creative Tactics and the Communication of a 'Good Taste' Message

Martin R Lautman and Shirley Hsieh

There is no area of market research that incites as much gut-level negative reaction among agency creatives as quantitative copy testing. Ads that score well are often cited not only as vindicating the creative process but also as providing evidence of the superfluousness of copy research itself. Ads that score poorly are frequently defended by questioning the testing procedure's fairness, reliability, and fidelity to the real world.

Reactions to a negative evaluation tend to be further exacerbated by the fact that often there is little in the way of empirical data on which explanations for poor performance and suggestions for improvement can be based. Thus, when advertising creatives are confronted with below-norm copy test results and little, if any, empirically based constructive guidance is available, their reactions can be readily understood. As behavioral psychologists would be quick to point out, when rewards and punishments do not seem to be contingent upon and predictable from behavior, the seeds of insecurity, if not insanity, can be expected to flourish.