WHAT ON EARTH IS MINDSET?
Mindset Creative Planning is a company specializing in consumer
Our job is to find insights into consumer attitudes and behaviour,
into the way people relate to your particular company, brand, policy or
NEED IDEAS FAST?
Mindset also facilitates ideation sessions. You have a problem that needs fast, workable solutions? A communications problem? An advertising problem? A new product design problem? A problem with sales, packaging, distribution, service? Mindset's ideation process, based on the Synectics model, can help in many surprising ways.
TO EXCITE YOU NEED INSIGHT
Today's consumers are completely media literate. They not only understand
advertising and marketing terms, they also understand the conventions,
techniques, pretensions and tricks of the game. You can't fool them anymore.
If your message doesn't resonate, they won't co-operate. You need to get
inside their minds.
SEE INTO THE FUTURE.
Searching for a critical insight is a bit like looking for lost
treasure. It is at once practical and mysterious. And often filled with
false clues and reversals. Just asking people what they think in focus
groups, seldom yields insights. Most of the time, people can't tell you
what they're thinking.
At Mindset, we use a variety of projective and enabling techniques designed to get beyond the literal and the obvious. Picture sorts, word associations, role-playing, completion exercises, bubble drawings, psychodrawing, projective questioning and other games and ploys. These are not only enjoyed by respondents but often reveal inner attitudes and values they find difficult or impossible to articulate. Finding an insight demands opening up all the senses, talking less and listening more. Listening, not just to what people say but what they mean.
At Mindset, we give a lot of thought to the questions we ask respondents.
We believe that in seeking to uncover consumer values, attitudes and motivations, everything depends on asking the right questions.
EVERY QUESTION HAS A BIAS.
It's a common fallacy that all questions are neutral. The truth is, every question has a natural bias built into it and, to some degree, determines the answer.
Says Neil Postman in his book, Technopoly, "The form of a question may ease our way or pose obstacles. Or, when even slightly altered, may generate antithetical answers." Postman goes on to tell the story of two priests who, being unsure if it was permissible to smoke and pray at the same time, wrote to the Pope for a definitive answer. One priest phrased the question, "Is it permissible to smoke while praying?" and was told that it was not, since prayer must be the focus of one's whole attention. The other priest asked if it is permissible to pray while smoking and was told that it was, since it is always appropriate to pray.
RESEARCH AT FACE VALUE.
In its research to determine the motivations underlying car purchase for Subaru, the ad agency, Weiden and Kennedy (justifiably famous for its Nike commercials) asked the wrong questions and got the wrong answers. People told them that they didn't buy a car for image purposes. (Who in their right mind would admit to needing an image anyway?) They just bought a car, they said, to get from A to B. Taking these responses at face value, Weiden and Kennedy produced an anti-image campaign with the prosaic theme, "What to Drive." The ads and commercials were beautifully written and art directed. They picked up many prestigious awards. But they failed to persuade consumers to get behind the wheel of a Subaru. Subaru's sales nose-dived and the agency lost the account. Everything depends on how you ask the question.
THE MIND IS A MEDIUM
YOUR MESSAGE GETS ALTERED.
At Mindset, we believe that the mind isn't just a neutral
receptacle for whatever message comes its way. It's a medium. And, like
any other medium, the mind alters the message according to the cultural
and value systems stored in its circuitry. In other words, all the
impressions, experiences, predilections, prejudices, values and beliefs
act as an interpretive screen and change the message before it is accepted
and acted upon. Of course, most of this happens at the subconscious level
and isn't immediately accessible. But the implications for media
communications are obvious: If we want to make sure our messages are
correctly understood, we'd better learn more about the mind as a
How are the words, pictures, symbols interpreted by the people we're trying to reach? The extent to which we understand these things and can predict responses, is the extent to which we will be able to create communications programmes that work. And that's part of Mindset's ongoing quest.
IDEAS NEEDED FAST
Positioning ideas, advertising ideas, promotional ideas, packaging ideas, new product ideas, sales ideas. Mindset is in the business of helping people come up with new ideas.
BEYOND ORDINARY MORTALS?
To most people, the creation of ideas is a mysterious process filled with fear and insecurity. Many books have been filled with conflicting theories of one kind or another. Creativity has been elevated to a level beyond ordinary mortals, the private preserve of those who call themselves "creative." The truth is more pedestrian. We are all creative to some degree; we are all capable of coming up with original ideas. What we need is permission, the right environment and a process that helps unlock the creativity that's in all of us.
Mindset's ideation process, based on the Synectics model, is a way of getting new ideas out on the table in an unstructured, free-wheeling, fun-filled way.
THE ANSWER'S IN THE PROBLEM.
Every creative idea has it's origin in a problem. So, the first thing to do is get an accurate definition of the problem. Problems come in two forms; the stated and unstated. For example; "We have a tremendous opportunity to do breakthrough work on this brand. The client's really excited about the possibilities and want's to see some ideas by the end of the week." That's the stated problem. The unstated problem goes something like this; "Help. We've been unable to crack this one and the client's really mad. If we don't have solutions by the end of the week, she's yanking the account."
LAUGH, HAVE FUN, CREATE.
Once the problem is properly defined, the next thing to do is create an environment in which critical thought is banished and the risk of looking foolish in front of one's peers is eliminated. In fact, participants in an ideation session are encouraged to look for the seemingly foolish solution. Thus freed of the necessity of coming up with the right answer, it's amazing what happens. People you'd never think of as creative drop their guards and begin to play. Creativity and play are inseparable.
Mindset's ideation sessions are lots of fun and usually very
Creative people don't argue with input research. They will use all the input they can get, especially if it contains a gem of an insight.
HACKLES AND TEMPERS.
But hackles rise, and so do tempers, when pre-testing is brought up. There's hardly a creative director in the country that hasn't got a sorry story about the death of a great idea at the hands of research. As a result, daggers have been drawn between creative people and researchers for years.
Is it even possible to pre-test creative? Isn't it tantamount to infanticide?
Even the best ideas are vulnerable in the hands of an inept presenter or an unsympathetic researcher. If, for example, the work is badly presented to a focus group, you may be left wondering what's being tested, the work or the moderator's clumsy presentation of the creative. At Mindset, we know just how fragile creative ideas are, especially in the early, half-formed stages. So we take the time to sit down with the creative people and thoroughly understand the strategic context, the story, metaphors, symbols and executional values that will eventually be applied to the concept.
Sometimes, if an idea is truly original, respondents will need a conceptual anchor or point of reference to understand what is going on.
The hugely successful Freedom 55 campaign failed in the first
couple of focus groups because the moderator had trouble explaining the
idea of visiting yourself in the future. It wasn't until we gave
respondents a reference point from Star Trek ("Beam me up Scotty.") that
they grasped the idea.
WHAT IS CREATIVE PLANNING?
The British invented planning back in the early seventies. They called it Account Planning. And it was credited, by many, with the creative revolution that swept those cramped, damp isles during the 70s and 80s.
AN UNUSUAL MIX OF SKILLS.
Creative Planning, as practiced by Mindset, is based on the British model, modified to suit North American needs. It emphasizes the qualitative aspects of consumer research over the quantitative. That's not to say it ignores the need for quantitative information. Indeed, one of Mindset's strategic partners specializes in the quantitative side of things and is damn good at it.
Creative Planning demands an unusual and often disparate mix of
IMAGINATION X 2.
There are two significant acts of the imagination in the creation of great advertising:
British researcher, Alan Hedges put it best, "Devising an advertising strategy is an act every bit as creative as designing an ad... It is an act of imaginative business judgment to select the crucial pieces of information from a mass of source data and weld them into an intuitive framework which will direct without constricting subsequent advertising development."