Year of Glad

Let this be a warning to marketing reserach groups that run focus groups, and to the companies that hire them: the people you target are onto you:

In one group for Johnnie Walker Black, it was obvious the marketers wanted us to consider their beverage upscale, for special occasions. Recognizing this, I made up a story about learning my best friend was engaged and telling him, “It’s Johnnie Walker time!” The interviewer looked like he wanted to hug me.

Not surprisingly, after the piece referenced above was published, many market research companies expressed alarm. More precisely, they began screaming that all good things in the world are coming to an end:

“It is critical to the survey and opinion research profession that legitimate respondents be utilized in the research process,” said MRA Executive Director, Larry Hadcock. “Billions of dollars are expended annually based upon the outcome of survey and opinion research. To suggest ways to sabotage this process puts countless businesses that are critical to the US economy in jeopardy.”

Note to Mr. Hadcock and to all marketing research firms: It doesn’t help to shoot the messenger.

Related reading: “Mr. Squishy,” the first story in David Foster Wallace’s new collection, Oblivion. (The story was first published under a pseudonym in McSweeney’s #5. I’m still wondering about that: Why should DFW publish a story under another name? It was so obviously his story, so clearly written in his style, that it had to be him. Actually, it is so much in his style that it’s almost a parody of a DFW story. Accordingly, one can know before even reading the first sentence whether one will like it.)

(Thanks to Lindsayism for the article links.)