Communicating Creatively: From digital media to stains on the bedroom floor

Simon Shaw


Market research relies on effective communication to succeed. Clients brief agencies, agencies deliberate with respondents, and agencies feedback to clients – and in this cycle the same communication tools are used with little pause for thought. For a qualitative project ideas are typically conveyed to respondents in groups using mood boards and their feedback is presented back to clients using PowerPoint slides and written summaries. We use these methods because they get the job done; we rarely use them because they inspire.

Today's world is a digital one where creativity has few barriers to entry. One need only to scan the way information is presented on TV or YouTube to see for themselves how far the bar has been raised. The scale of the national debt is made accessible using CGI on the national news, whilst animated videos wittily explain the arcane origins of the credit crunch in the space of 3 or 4 minutes. Newspapers' use of infographics1 is widespread and increasingly commented upon2. The result: our collective experience of how information is presented is changing dramatically, and consequently so are our expectations. Take, for instance the MRS Conference itself: a programme unsupported by video clips would be virtually unthinkable in 2010.