CEO - David Alterman takes a moment to reflect on if politicians did market research

We are ‘proving the doubters wrong’.

‘Overall tax rates next year will be the highest since the second world war’.

‘We are following the plan and the plan is working.’

‘I want us to have the most pro-business pro-enterprise tax regime anywhere’

Pension allowance increases will uniquely benefit middle class professionals.

Just a few quotes from the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget statement earlier this week and some others maybe he didn’t say.

And he didn’t say them for a reason because he has a specific job to do. He has to share good news, demonstrate a commitment to audiences like parents and pensioners, he has to appease different groups within his own party, avoid further increases to the budget deficit and so on and so on.

And he has to tell the truth.

This is not a criticism of any one individual, or any one political party – but an observation that the strategy for budget presentations generally involves selective omission of the bad news, vagueness around timings for any changes, overly complex devices that suggest good news, but often mean the opposite.

Omit, mislead, confuse.

I was just pondering what a research debrief would look like if the rules of engagement were the same – omit, mislead, confuse. Not sure that it would lead to a long term relationship with the client.

Many years ago we conducted research to review a new ad campaign for a well-known brand. It was our first piece of work for the client and agency. Unfortunately the campaign was so misjudged it was clear that it was actively damaging the brand’s reputation.

What we would have given for the politician’s licence to omit, mislead and confuse – find some irrelevant research metrics that had gone up, run some statistical analysis that blurred the story and omit any measures that had gone down.

But we took a deep breath and shared the bad news, explained why the campaign wasn’t working, illustrated the damage it was doing and suggested what they needed to do to fix it.

The first and only time I have seen both client and agency in tears and we left the room for what we assumed was the last time.

But what do I know. 12 years on we are still working together, and the brand goes from strength to strength.

So market research it is for me – and I’ll skip the career change to politics.