04/15/2009 12:52 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ad Research: From Obama Political Ads to Cheese-Flavored Snacks

Ogilvy Winners Want a Seat at the Table

Joel Benenson has been busy picking up hardware for the Obama for America ad campaigns.

He's been in New York for an ad industry award program called the Ogilvy Awards and in Washington for a Cable Award from CTAM in the past two weeks (I know, I am stalking him). He has been accepting both for Benenson Strategy Group and David Axelrod, now senior counsel to the President, who was then chairman of AKPD message and media in Chicago.

Meanwhile, across the table, Frito-Lay accepted the Grand Ogilvy for a new ad campaign called "The Orange Underground" featuring a cheese-flavored snack. NeuroFocus was the research driver along with Ipsos, OZA, Noxon and Sensory Logic. This is among the best uses of neuromarketing brain wave research to prove attention and retention can be quantified.

My first question is: Why have not political advertising execs focused on this new neuromarketing tool for measurement and for creative planning? While Stan Greenberg's shop runs focus groups three times a day during the campaign, today's consultants can get detail on what resonates with voters from EEG studies. Maybe in the mid-terms?

The Advertising Research Federation conference in New York this month proves again that market research wants to be heard:

"We need to bring our ideas and innovations into the board room," says one speaker.
"The research department needs to be a change agent!" opines another.
"This is truly our moment in research," predicts a third speaker.

"We gotta make them drink the Kool-Aid," said Donna Goldfarb, VP of Marketing Research and Regional Director at Unilver. "Why don't we have a 'Chief Insights Officer' in the C-suite?" asked Joel Rubinson.

Then things got even more interesting. Rubinson said that 80% of research budgets are deployed against measurement. He and other industry leaders want to have a more proactive role. "We need to take more risks," he said. "Information alone is garbage unless it drives a decision."

"Listening for the unexpected and then really taking a stand in market research" is where the industry needs to go. We agree.

"Obama for President," Obama for America
ADVERTISER: Obama for America
MEDIA: Obama Media Team-AKPD Message & Media; GMMB
RESEARCH: Benenson Strategy Group, Harstad Research, David Binder Research, Brilliant Corners

"The Orange Underground," Cheetos
AGENCY: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
RESEARCH: OZA, NeuroFocus**, Christopher Noxon, Ipsos ASI, Sensory Logic

**Dr. A.K. Pradeep, who is Chief Executive Officer of NeuroFocus, the world's leading neuromarketing firm, was singled out to receive the Foundation's top innovation prize for being an "individual who brings excellence to advertising research in the category of research innovation." He earned the "Great Minds" award at the ARF Show in New York.