Friday, 23 September 2011

ESOMAR Congress Award for Best Methodology Paper

I am very pleased to have won the ESOMAR best methodology paper award at this years annual congress along with Deborah Sleep from Engage research for our game experiments exploring how to put the fun into surveys and the impact it can have.
A thank you to the company that pioneered gamification

I would like to pay tribute to the 3 people who I could say acted as important inspiration for this research. They ran a company I worked for earlier in my career called Buspak,  you will never had heard of them, an Australian based company that has long ceased to exist, but they succeeded in gamifying their whole businesses and really understood the power of fun and how it could be used to engage people.

Now when I say gamified I am not exaggerating…This was a company that once hired a tank for a day to drive up to central London to the steps of Saatchi & Saatchi on Charlotte Street to deliver an “explosive deal”. Who would insist that the entire sales team get dress up in fancy dress costume to go on sales calls (see pic below). Who would get actors to go into advertising agencies to deliver speeches. Who once took a whole fair ground around the major cities of Australia and invited the entire advertising industry to a day at their fair.  They published a comic that they sent round to companies in place of a brochure. We would casually fax over a deal on Friday afternoon to all of our key clients and the prize for anyone that read the small print and faxed it back was a round the world air ticket.  We once sent everyone of our clients a brick and I can’t even remember why now.

They sold advertising on buses which frankly was not on the radar or most advertising agencies and so their strategy was to go out and make as much noise about themselves as they could and engage with their audience.  They also had a very serious side investing huge amounts of money in research to demonstrate the effectiveness of their medium which was my earliest introduction to market research. The simple test and control techniques they would use to demonstrate its effectiveness were the is same techniques used for all the research conducted in this award winning paper.  

And it worked, they took over the Australian bus advertising business and I think quadrupled the turnover in 5 year, their companies founder was named Australian businessman of the year and  they then came over to the UK and bought up as much of the UK bus advertising business as they could and within 2 years had more than doubled the turnover.  They eventually sold up to a US company and retired very rich.  If you dig around I think there is a Harvard Business review case study on what they achieved with this business.  A truely amazing company.

They taught me to place no limit to the imagination on implementing ideas in the business environment and what a powerful weapon fun was.

Their names were Colin Hindmarsh, Peter Cosgrove and John Williams. These names are folk law to many people in the media industry in Australia.


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