let me be your tiger girl

By • Oct 13th, 2008 • Category: The Advertising Slut
pat the suit

pat the suit

This is me on Friday night at the Asia Interactive Awards 2008 show, almost sartorially correct if not for the crooked skinny tie. Armored in my Karl Lagerfeld fabric of radicalism, coupled by the third coming of tight jeans in a pair of True Religion, I was aesthetically at my finest. Quite appropriately so, for moments after this mugshot was taken, my Agency cemented its creative prowess with medals after medals of victory. I cannot wait for the Singapore Creative Circle 2008.

pat the tiger girl

pat the tiger girl

This is also me, clad in what many might classify as the height of fashion decadence – the Tiger girl polo t-shirt. I wasn’t at Tiger beer’s legendary Tavern and I certainly wasn’t drinking frothing tankards of ale served by virginal sweet faces in low-cut dresses. I was a Tiger girl selling cartons of Tiger beer at NTUC FairPrice supermarket, in the mother of all heartlands, Ang Mo Kio. It was the week before Chinese New Year last year, where endless rivers of anxious housewives and reluctant husbands were flowing rapidly into the supermarket, frantically trying to stock up enough food for the three-day masquerade of a family reunion.

Guess what? While I was privileged enough to attend the Asia Interactive Awards 2008 show with my brilliant team, I made the specific request to be a Tiger girl for a night. No, I kid you not. My then-client was as surprised as you are.

I must have been on the wrong side of sanity, to request for abject misery that will destroy whatever’s left of my image, I hear you say. Wrong. Abso-fucking-lutely wrong. And I pray to God you’re not a Suit. Or worse, a Planner.

We Suits and Planners rely heavily on secondary data churned by research think tanks, to analyze and derive at the extremely crucial point of our communication strategy – the Consumer Insight. Combining intrinsic and extrinsic formulas we know from Market Research 101, we extract vital consumer insights to make calculated marketing and communication decisions.

To elaborate further for those not in the communications industry, I hereby borrow a great explanation from the President of Dialogue Marketing Group, Michael Goodman.

The Consumer Insight is essentially, a flash of understanding regarding an unidentified or unmet need in the marketplace, or a new, or better way to satisfy an existing need.

It is not about a product or service; it is about a consumer need that isn’t being met as well as it could be. The marketer’s challenge, having recognized the insight, is to find a way to capitalize on the thinking that identified the need. That could ultimately lead to a product or a service of course, but the insight is independent of the solution.

Unless we have a brand that has a bigger pot of gold in Research and Development as opposed to Marketing, like Cadbury Schweppes or Procter and Gamble, obtaining primary data is often a luxury we are deprived of. Facing both time and budget constraints, we turn to secondary data from the likes of Gartner and Forrester, and attempt to pen that pretty Consumer Insight worthy of a boardroom of applause.

In between a marketing summit in Bali and 200 glasses of Moët et Chandon, have we become too arrogant for our own good?

What made us believe that just because we paid top dollar for full access to Gartner’s data that we are able to conclude, behind our 17-inch screen of a PC, what a consumer feels, think and need? Who the fuck do we think we are? God?

Having the luxury of being trained mercilessly by a lady, who was first and foremost the Head of Strategic Planning before she was a Group Account Director, I have hence become a stickler for Research (and possibly why I can’t sell like a car salesman can). Obtaining primary data may be unrealistic in our ROI-driven business world of today, but surely there’s a cheaper alternative of understanding the Consumer better. Like being a Tiger girl.

There are a few reasons why I requested to be a Tiger girl, namely:

1. My beer consumption does not come from the Grocery channel. Without the gig, I wouldn’t have found out how housewives were queens in the supermarket (no, the husbands did not get to choose which beer to purchase, surprisingly). Also, who would’ve thought those gift-with-purchase ostentatious golden pigs would be a believable reason to buy?

2. I was new on the account. It was a perfect opportunity to illustrate to the client I wasn’t just some flamboyant Suit who cared more about drinking than marketing the drink.

3. There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Words of Mark Twain inspired by the original quote from Benjamin Disraeli; Lies, damned lies, and statistics. Statistics lie, period. Until I get on the ground with hands buried in the dirt of reality, I don’t really know my customer’s customer. My Consumer Insight is thus flawed.

Ever so often, Agencies are given barely enough time to reply emails, let alone develop a decent creative brief based on sufficient research. For some strange unknown reason as well, clients somehow do not think that research requires money. I don’t get that. You don’t ask an accountant to do an audit for you for free, do you? Why do you think a brand or consumer audit is any different? Our Suits and Planners do get paid, you know.

As a result of the two problems highlighted, time and cost, I sometimes find myself reluctantly forgoing being a Tiger girl to brands I market, and relying on secondary data just like everyone else. The scary part is, I find that people actually don’t care.

I want to be a Tiger girl to the brands I market. I want to know my clients’ customers. Especially those I completely do not relate to. Please. If I do get the chance of serving you as a Suit, let me be your Tiger girl.

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4 Responses »

  1. Hi Pat,
    I totally believe merely that churning out data can never capture all the reasons that make people tick..that’s me and my soft spot for qualitative research. :)
    Two words- ethnography rocks!

  2. hot daymn i like you in your suit.

    amk is too far for me to go buy tiger beer. :P

  3. Does Pat the Tiger Girl do home deliveries? *growl* Try the Tiger polo with a tie :)

  4. [...] • Going above and beyond to be the client’s wife/ husband (Read more here) [...]

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