Market Research agencies. Most clients are obssessed with them and most creative directors couldn't care less about them. Welcome to the nightmare that is account management.
Having said that, I must say I am with the creative team on this one. The amount of money spent on analysis, re-analysis, focus groups and dissection of basic human emotions could very well feed a small country.
Here's an example from when I worked with a well-known confectionery brand in Mumbai, India. The product was a candy worth 1 Indian Rupee (which roughly translates to 2 US cents). We were part of a team doing a television spot worth much much more. (Sorry, the amount is confidential). Three scripts were finalized.
Storyboards were sketched and developed into roughly animated videos, which were handed over to the "research agency" to test. Focus groups were based on the core target group and a huge amount of money was spent. Again, the amount is confidential. On the day of the presentation of the final result, the research agency walked into the conference room armed with the latest laptops and loads of findings. Client and agency waited for the final verdict.
Much was said about the "state of one's mind" while chewing a hard candy vis-a-vis a softer one. The "crunch factor" in the candy was scrutinized. The eating technique was discussed with figures and charts. Did people suck and then bite or bite and then chew the pieces or did they just go on sucking till the candy melted in their mouth? The creative was classified into sections based on certain parameters, few of them quite vague and the audience response even more so. More charts and figures followed.
The client chose the script with the most ratings. The spot was made. Another bout of research followed. Also known as the post production testing. The spot did okay. Client was happy. The spot was released on national television.
Last I heard, we are going back to the drawing board because the client's marketing department has done some research which has gone on to show how our brand proposition is all wrong. Gotta start from scratch, guys!