Sunday, May 17, 2009

Which Carver?

For quite some time, I’d noted this full-page ad in Marketing News. It’s for a research firm, Data Development Worldwide, “one of the largest market research companies in the country dedicated solely to worldwide custom market research.”

Every time I’ve seen it, I have to tip my hat to the company because it’s advertising, you know. That is, on its own, a great thing for a research firm. On top of that, I have noticed the ad. There’s that headline, “It’s not the wood. It’s the carver.”

A fine idea. At first glance, you have to logically agree with the ad saying that raw data isn’t enough, that something else is necessary: “shaping it into insightful analysis and actionable results.”

Seeing it more than once, however, finally led me to think too much about it (a big danger for the unoccupied mind, let me say).

DDW is also saying that raw data can be carved into almost any pattern. Woodcarvers do it all the time, sometimes even with the same piece of wood. I can shape a good piece of walnut into a pair of pistol stocks; but another (better) woodworker can carve that same slab into an intricate ball-within-ball puzzle; and a clever Boy Scout could whittle it into a whistle or a neckerchief slide.

Figuratively, DDW has “shaped” that uncured chunk of tree into the lovely wooden roundel or tabletop shown in the ad above. That’s not to say, though, that another market research firm couldn’t turn Mr Deadwood into a chest of drawers.

As I said, I admire DDW for advertising at all.

It’s possible that effective advertising probably ought not to be considered too closely – that’s what some clients do, you know…analyze a creative thought to death. A long-ago colleague of mine, John McHugh, used to say that his Irish mother “cooked vegetables ‘til all the evil came out.”

Pick this firm or another to interpret your raw research information. But I gotta wonder if the DDW ad was created just to match the company Managing Director’s name: “Chip” Lister.

Best for Sunday…


Chris Riepe said...


I've often seen those ads and had the same initial reaction as you - I liked the idea. I guess I never thought much more about it though. I love your take on the logical conclusion of the ad - that the "wood" or "clay " or pick your medium can be crafted into anything. I'm sure that wasn't their intent (I hope so anyway), but it is certainly a possible interpretation.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks for the comment, Chris. I'm pretty sure it wasn't DDW's intent either - so the company has avoided "analysis paralysis" and run with the ads.