War Stories

One of the privileges of having had a long career in marketing research is the wealth of stories we can tell about past projects gone dreadfully wrong. Some of the images I will never forget come from my first job as a field director for the Gene Reilly Group in New York in the early 1970’s. They include:

  • Having consumers use a camp sink in front of a one way mirror to brush their teeth while we videotaped them – without disclosing that they were being observed!

  • Trying to place chocolate bars in a NY suburb in July and having most of the samples melt before interviewers could complete the interviews.

  • Having a client bring his cello to the facility because he had a rehearsal for his community orchestra right after the groups.

  • Trying to herd a crowd of 20 year olds into limousines after watching the Broadway production of Hair so they could participate in discussions about the viability of turning this into a movie. Not hard to recruit this job, just hard to enforce participation.

  • Paying women $7.50 to come to the city for a 2 hour group and never having a problem finding willing participants. Particularly for Wednesday groups when they could also enjoy a matinee.

  • Having to refill the moderator’s “coffee” cup without letting the ice cubes clink.

Moving on to a client side job, I vowed never to be one of those clients – but I’m sure I was!