Almost 40 years ago a man with some classic mutton chops wrote a seminal book on advertising research.
That man was Alan Hedges. And that book was called Testing To Destruction.
I found a copy online recently and read it again. You can find it here.
The first thing that struck me was that it's still just as relevant today as it was back in 1974 when it was published.
I think a lot of promising ideas never survive the hurdle of research these days. Too much emphasis is often placed on executional rather than strategic issues. And bold, radical, unusual creative work can often bite the dust if people have no frame of reference for it.
Despite all the hoo-ha surrounding the brave new world of communication, consumer behaviour hasn't really changed at all.
And it all seems that clients' approach to creative development research hasn't changed either with management "looking more for research rather than illumination".
Witness one primary cast-iron conclusion drawn by Hedges;
It is not possible to make a realistic test of the effectiveness of a commercial in a laboratory situation in advance of real-life exposure.
Until this simple but uncomfortable truth is grasped much advertising research will go on being sterile and unproductive.
Testing To Destruction recognised that consumers aren't rational beings and laid out some helpful and insightful principles on how ideas could be helped, nurtured, understood or protected by research.
It's essential reading for anyone embarking on creative development research to ensure that the right questions and big questions are being asked.