When does Research cross the line and become Pitch Fodder?

I was talking to a client recently about a one-off focus group they wanted me to moderate to support a pitch and possibly went slightly overboard emphasising how I wasn’t prepared to simply produce pitch fodder and therefore wouldn’t tolerate agency people sitting in observing the group, being ‘encouraged’ as to what the research recommendations should be or editing video highlights of the group to support a particular agency viewpoint.

I suppose if you’re being pedantic then just doing one group is hardly a robust piece of research so I should come right down off my high horse.  But I don’t fancy getting booted out of the MRS for breaking their Code of Conduct just because I didn’t speak up.

I’m still haunted by the filmed group looking at pitch creative I ‘moderated’ the best part of ten years ago (thankfully pre my MRS membership).  The agency boss who was sitting in on the group actually started asking respondents “can you just say …..” and “what I’d like you to say is ….”.  I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me but I was too young and too inexperienced to put a stop to it.

I think the last straw was when one of the respondents (a friend of a friend because, yes, I’d had to do the recruiting myself) sent a message back to me afterwards simply saying “Is your boss corrupt, or what?”.

There’s a very fine line between Research and Pitch Fodder and I suppose we all have to decide exactly how far we (as researchers or agencies commissioning research) are prepared to go.

(Can you tell from my last few posts that I’m up to my eyeballs in Groups :–)

One thought on “When does Research cross the line and become Pitch Fodder?

  1. I guess as well the definition of ‘pitch fodder’ comes into play here.

    So long as it happens at the right place, and it still gets used objectively, then anything that makes the work better / more relevant still has a place? (As long as it is there to inform the direction, rather than to justify a position that has already been taken)

    Does it all boils down to intent. And integrity?

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