The term ‘creative development research’ crops up time and time again, but when was the last time anyone really did any?

Research is often decried by the advertising industry for destroying creativity.  Most of us have worked on that side of the fence and we can understand their point.

The problem is research often comes too late in the day (in one notable case for us recently, when the edit was actually in progress)
Nowadays, most creative development research is actually creative evaluation.  What respondents get to see are scripts that have been picked over by the Client, debated by the Agency and written and re-written.
By that point the opinions of the stakeholders have been allowed to firm up, passions and allegiances have been formed, tensions have often risen and time is usually running out.  In short, the stakes are high. Research is viewed as a hurdle to be overcome by the Agency and a final opportunity to dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’ by the client – hardly the best environment in which to help an idea flourish!
Far better that research takes place before things get to that point, during creative development when ideas are germinating, rather than as a finale to the process.
By inviting consumers into what would normally be the ‘tissue meeting’ stage of creative development we approach research from an entirely different start point.  We ask them not to pore over the details of the execution and record their verdict but instead to interpret creative thoughts in light of their own product and brand relationships and life experiences.
In turn, the research output is less a record of likes and dislikes, which have a tendency to box creativity into a corner, and more a collection of insights into what ideas mean to consumers, to help spark creativity.
There are other advantages too.  By talking to consumers earlier in the process it’s possible to spot which ideas generate most interest and which offer the richest veins of creativity.  Also, where an idea is found to have potential it can breed a unifying confidence between Client and Agency which, in turn, fuels the upward spiral of belief required to enable an idea to grow.
The creative development process is difficult and anxiety inducing enough.  Don’t limit what research can do for you and don’t let it be a burden or a hindrance. Instead, start early, use its output as stimulus and let it open minds rather than close them.
We have a presentation on useful, enabling, creative development research. If you would like to see it contact James HERE