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Company presidents need to get out of the office more often

June 6, 2007

This month’s Fast Company has an article about the resurgence of Disney. However, reading a recent blog post from FC about the President of ABC-Disney television group, Anne Sweeney, Influx wonders were the insight comes from.

The post references Anne’s recent trips into the field and onto college campuses, where she witnessed first hand the changing media habits of this new college generation.

“Even on days when she’s being a mom instead of a high-powered
executive. Sweeney, who’s based in Los Angeles, was on the East Coast
primarily to visit college campuses with her daughter. Seven colleges
in a week. Sweeney couldn’t help but notice how ubiquitous laptops were
and which shows resonated with students (the lounge TV on one campus
had a sign that read, “Reserved for Lost”).
“The trip has definitely given me a view of this younger group’s
experience with media that I don’t normally get,” she says. “It’s
first-hand market research. I’ve got a thousand ideas from this.”

Not to mention a new appreciation for that generation’s WiFi
expectations. “Last night, we checked into the hotel, my daughter said,
‘Oh, I’m so happy.’ I said, Because you’re in New York? She said, ‘No,
because I finally have a signal.'”

Sweeney had to grin. “Yeah, that’s what I said to my mother on my college tour.”

It leaves us thinking:

1. Should we assume that all this was new news to her?

2. Based on this illuminating experience, shouldn’t she be getting out of the office more often?

3. Shouldn’t her research folks be doing a better job of bringing their targets to life?

This is a tale about experiences counting for far more than listening to a research debrief.

It’s a big challenge for all planners, agencies and consultants.

How do you get the client to understand it, if they don’t experience it?

You have to try and make the client a part of the process and you have to bring creativity to your findings; bring them to life for those who didn’t experience it first hand.

Make the research, creative.

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