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Alain Giguère

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LIFE to IDEAS...Graffiti

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 11:19 a.m.

Image for LIFE to IDEAS...Graffiti

Graffiti IS:

Youth Expression and Rebellion – a mode of self-expression, a creative and defiant act (it is still illegal, you know) fused into one… the universal lingua franca of urban youth

A modernity and relevance cue - a cultural meme appropriated by purveyors of upscale culture to broadcast their “cool” and affiliate themselves with urban street cred

An act of civil disobedience – a marking symbolizing disengagement from good public conduct, an expression of discord

If you are in the business of consumption and culture, this idea has various dimensions and implications.  THAT’S the story we will tell.



Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 11:16 a.m.

Image for LIFE to IDEAS…Banks

Banks ARE:

A springboard, a lever to achieve one’s dream; benevolent facilitators offering the assistance and expertise required to fulfill one’s ambitions.

A holding tank and a physical place for monetary exchange: the place where money is stored for safe keeping; a location where deposits, withdrawals, payments, investments and financial transactions are undertaken.

The “bad guys”. Big business at its worse. The institution which gouges the little guys with fees, and worse yet, the place where abuses and crimes are perpetrated.

If you are in the banking industry, you should know which idea is associated most with you.  THAT’S the story we will tell.


LIFE to IDEAS...Coffee

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 11:14 a.m.

Image for LIFE to IDEAS...Coffee

Coffee is more than a humble caffeinated drink.  Life has invested Coffee with multiple layers of meaning - and therefore, an array of codes, connotations and marketing opportunities.

When LIFE meets IDEAS, a compelling STORY is born.  Coffee IS:

Ritual & Comfort - a ritual that kicks off every day with reassuring familiarity and well-being

Art of Living - an urbane lifestyle expression, a facet of modern life, an epicurean experience

A Micropleasure - an escape from the daily grind, a moment of self-indulgence

A reflection of ethics - a first-line embodiment of consumers' one-world ethics; fair-trade, organics etc.

If you are in the coffee business, you should decide which facet of life your idea should leverage.

THAT'S the story we will tell.


State of the Union: Q & A with CROP’s dynamic duo

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 9 a.m.

As the industry engages in soul-searching, CROP enthusiastically unveils its Life to Ideas brand proposition.  CROP’s dynamic duo, President Alain Giguère and CEO Carlo Bianchini, discusses the state of the research industry and the birth of Life to Ideas.

Q From where you sit … how is the research industry faring these days?

A – I think we’re living in what the Chinese proverb would describe as “interesting times.” Our industry seems to be drifting towards ‘commodification,’ which from our perspective is a dead end. This really isn’t CROP's point of view– it’s the sentiment echoed by ESOMAR, the global voice of our industry. Just look at the character of the headlines dominating Research World, ESOMAR’s fine monthly publication, and you’ll immediately sense that we are at a crossroads of sorts.  ESOMAR has even questioned whether the word ‘research’ should be reconsidered, given the degree to which it has been devalued in certain circles.

Q – How did it come to this?

A – Well, historically, research was the marketing function closest to the consumer. Research organizations had the means to reach the public and virtually held a monopoly on the tools used to measure their opinions, behaviours and deeper needs. To put it bluntly, those days are gone. Many organizations now have vast consumer databases AND the capability to mine information.

Technology is the great equalizer. It has provided marketers with the tools to develop, engage and maintain a dialogue with their consumers and prospects – think of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, not to mention future permutations we can only dream of today. This combined with off the shelf apps such as Google Analytics and Survey Monkey, for example, have undeniably eroded the perceived value of our industry.

Q – The situation seems somewhat dire, wouldn’t you say?

A – Well, yes and no. We see it more like a blessing disguised as a curse. Call it a moment of truth, a spur for evolution and alchemy. Our industry must propel research into the realm of strategy, narrative, and insight. One of my more discerning clients once told me that he hired very high-priced marketing consultants for (insert ASTRONOMICAL dollar figure here) – a king’s ransom to a research organization. The kicker? He declared it was worth every penny.

That has to be our goal. We must become integral players in the process where value is created and recognized. In too many instances, the research team presents data and facts and heads back to the boiler room; then high-priced consultants and executive client marketing group start the major-league strategic work in earnest. We have to earn the right to sit at that table.

In order to get there, we need to think in holistic terms, to push beyond metrics, statistics and the lexicon that has governed our industry. We have to re-brand ourselves as the storytellers of our business.

Q – So, how does a research shop get a seat at that table?

A – For starters, we need to rethink and reconfigure the very nature of the ‘deliverable’. If our research output – for lack of a sexier term – doesn’t empower the client to make an important decision, or cast new light on a business issue or fuel the creative process… then it has fallen short of its true potential.

Researchers are sometimes guilty of bogging down in method and detail, of delivering information and calling it a day. In these days of Information Overload, information is crying out to be transformed into something more layered, more compelling – more valuable. Clients are starving for insights, not information. Answering the What is useful, but explaining Why is the catalyst, the source of true transformational ideas.

Q – Has it been easy to get your own team to buy into that vision?

A – In all honesty… it’s harder than anticipated although it’s not anyone’s particular fault. We must acknowledge that our industry has shaped the norms and philosophies that served it well for over 80 years; they simply need to be refreshed for the modern reality. Understandably, we sometimes need to ‘de-program’ some players. When I was starting out in research, I had a boss who would half-mockingly hold up a freshly bound report in the palm of his hand and affirm ‘Yup, this is worth (whatever value the project was sold)’. The implication was clear; clients were being delivered research by the pound. Quantity was the determinant. In that context, producing and scrutinizing cross-tabs from every possible angle was a worthwhile pursuit. Well, we’ve moved light-years beyond that reality. Clients and their needs have evolved, and in many respects, we’re the ones playing catch-up.

Q – What’s next for CROP?

A – You’ll recall that Chinese proverb: Interesting times really means change. Some see this as a curse – from where we sit, it’s all good. The great news is that our organization has been orchestrating the right shift for a few years now, so we’ve got a running start on the competition.

Our re-branding officially marks and publicly communicates the shift towards a philosophy we profoundly believe in, but more importantly, one that our clients, present and future will embrace.

We know where the end zone is and we’re headed there. And frankly, that’s the most fun and rewarding part.