How to Avoid Advertising Mishaps
31 Oct 2019

Back in 2017, Pepsi ran an ad where Kendall Jenner partook in a march and approached a cop with a can of soda. It looked like Pepsi was trying to get involved in movements such as Black Lives Matter for commercial gains. As a result, it was almost immediately pulled off the air, and the company released an apology. In short, this was an advertising mishap of extraordinary levels and was deeply offensive.


Unfortunately, dozens upon dozens of advertisers make these mistakes each year, turning consumers off their product or service and offending potential buyers. Usually, ads like these, especially by big companies, end up forcing apologies, and only last on the airwaves for a few days at most. As a result, the bad press leads to poor sales, negative engagement, and a whole array of issues. Who wants that?

However, these sorts of advertising disasters can be avoided. Namely, doing your due diligence on developing and researching your advertisements before you place them is key. Most importantly, research is the most important thing you can do to avoid a situation like the one that Pepsi created.

Research, Research, Research

The main way to make sure your advertisements don’t fail miserably is to conduct research. In short, advertising research encompasses so much of the process of developing your brand and advertising campaigns. 

First, you can assess the ad itself through ad testing, copy testing, video testing, and message testing. This is the easiest way to make sure that an ad is being received well. You can develop a survey that shows the advertisement to the respondent, and asks them what they think. This gives direct feedback that helps you improve your advertisement, and will uncover any potential red flags consumers might have. You can do this simply by asking questions, or even use a highlighter tool so that respondents can specifically point to what they do and don’t like about the ad.

By conducting brand tracker surveys over time, you will have a clearer vision of your brand. A clearer vision of your brand will mean clearer advertising messages, and less chance that you will dip into the areas that offend.

You could also use an ad tracker. Ad trackers are vital to your advertisements, and should start before you even start your campaign. Surveys can be used to track ad campaigns and gauge consumer reaction. Not only will you be clearing up any potentially touchy areas of your ads, but you will be gaining insight into what customers might really enjoy. They also help understand how advertisements develop and test over time. As a result, you can see if something that was well received at one point is now poorly received.

Focus Groups (and Alternatives)

Additionally, conducting focus groups in order to get immediate and in-depth feedback on your advertisements and campaigns can be a deterrent to faux pas advertising. However, it isn’t always the best methodology. That doesn’t mean they aren’t insightful and important, especially when it comes to testing ads. In addition to a tracker, a focus group can go a long way.

Consequently, there are new alternatives to in-person focus groups that are less expensive, but also will help you achieve your goal of immediate response to an advertising campaign. New online focus groups that utilize artificial intelligence are making the rounds, and allow for immediate response to questions, advertisements, and images prompted. This is another safeguard to make sure no offensive material is getting out in the name of your brand.

Avoiding Advertising Mishaps

Together, these forms of research can help you have a much clearer vision of what will attract your customers. Not only will you clear any potential problematic advertisements, but you will be able to frame creative in order to drive support for your brand and product.

Want to learn more about Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. What’s the Difference Between Quantitative vs. Qualitative?
  2. Virtual Reality & Qualitative Research: Fad or Here to Stay?
  3. 6 Things to Watch Out for When Writing a Survey
  4. Marketing Strategies for Generation Alpha: the Newest Generation

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Keep on the lookout for more blog posts from us!


The Importance of Competitive Analysis
24 Oct 2019

Do you truly understand who your competitors are? Have you analyzed which brands are direct competitors, as well and who are indirect? Do you know all of their product/service offerings? Has your company conducted market research on the matter?

It is vital to track your competition so you can stay ahead and know what the white space is. You would be shocked to know how many brands do not know where to start when asked about their competitors. Countless companies have never conducted a competitive analysis. 

Many brands only look at their main competitors without looking at smaller/quick-growing companies or brands in different industries but offer similar services. For example, Gartner and TomTom navigation systems were caught off guard when Google Maps provide the same service, but for free. Within just a few weeks of the introduction of Google Maps, the navigation systems valuations dropped considerably.

This type of intelligence gathering helps companies improve efficiency, growth, and profit through accurate information gathering and thorough analysis. 

Competitive Analysis Checklist

The first step will be to identify your direct competitors. Once you have that decided, you should explore the following areas about each of your competitors:

  • Market potential 
  • Trends and opportunities in the market
  • Advertising landscape, this should include the following:
    • Current offline advertising
    • Digital advertising
    • Social advertising
    • PR/communication initiatives
  • SEO
  • Current key message
  • Supporting points
  • Tone, look and feel
  • Call to action
  • Ad spend
  • Websites

A great place to start this process is with the competitors’ websites. Analyzing websites is the most accessible information for everyone. Get back to basics, look at the layout, look & feel, products/services offered. From here, it will be possible to decide on what you like and dislike, what you perceive to be working and what is not.  

In addition, it is crucial to look at Ad spend. Ad spend is not as easily accessible as the websites, but it is an essential part of competitive analysis. Your product may be better, and the message might be on target, but your competition may significantly outspend you when it comes to advertising. This number will explain a lot in terms of awareness and market penetration. If you cannot compete when it comes to an advertising budget, it will allow you to focus your budget on the correct channels. 

How to Conduct Competitive Analysis

Secondary research is a great way to conduct this type of analysis. However, it is a significant undertaking and can take hours of work. There are also parts of the research that will be most accurate if you ask consumers directly about the competition (e.g., survey and focus groups). It is often necessary to get a research company involved because, other than the website analysis, most of these insights are on secondary databases. Plus, those with strategy experience have a better perspective of analyzing the data and providing insights on the white space and areas of concern. They often recommend where you need to tweak your current marketing plan.

When to Analyze the Competitive Landscape

By conducting this analysis at least twice a year, you can better understand what is happening with the competition. You will be sure to keep up with them and if they are making any changes to their marketing initiatives. You can determine their strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to understand better where you stand and what your differentiator is. All of the information that you gather from a competitive analysis will work towards enhancing the brand’s strategy. 

What Next?

If you want to learn more, check out our other blogs on topics that will help your company when it comes to research:

Types of Research Every Advertiser Should Know

The Importance of Secondary Research When Launching a Brand

If you’re thinking of hiring a market research company to conduct your competitive analysis for you, this blog may be helpful to you: 

Questions to Ask a Market Research Company


Accuracy of Political Polling
14 Oct 2019

Political Polling

There has been a lot of buzz in the media about a Fox News political poll that claimed that most Americans are in favor of impeachment. Before we can continue, this comment is about the survey and analysis, not about politics. The political beliefs of Provoke Insights will not be included in this post!

Mary Kay Linge from the NY Post wrote an article yesterday saying that a Fox News Political Poll was incorrect and that it skewed higher among democrats. Then Ms. Linge re-based the data to match the current number of affiliated Democrats in the United States. As a result, the figures showed that the number of Americans that are in favor of impeachment does not make up the majority.

How to Accurately Re-Base

Now, Mary Kay Linge, the thinking was correct, but you cannot just re-base the numbers like that. Firstly, Linge uses numbers by Gallup to re-base, but she does not provide the date of the study or the name of the study that she obtained the data from. For example, the survey she was comparing could have been a few years old or only surveyed a small number of respondents. For something like party affiliation, we would check the number of people registered with each party by state rather than another poll. This way, you know your numbers are accurate. Otherwise, we would look at non-profit data sites such as Pew Research for the information.

When conducting a political poll, you need to make sure that all of your quotas are accurate. So, we look at the US Census and make sure that the poll is in proportion with the US Census in regards to age, gender, income, ethnicity, and geography. Then, you can make sure it is accurate in regard to party affiliation.

What Question Are You Asking

The survey question is important. You need to ensure that the questions accurately line up. For example, someone may have registered as a Republican a long time ago, but today considers themselves an Independent. Therefore, look to see if the question wording says, “do you consider yourself..“ or if it says.. “are you registered as..”. While this may seem like a nuance, it is a vital part of polling correctly.

As many political polls have certain party affiliations or are created for a news station that is left or right-wing leaning, we have to always go back to the source and question how the data was collected. Often, we find that polls are conducted too quickly or include party-biases. As a result, the data may not be as accurate as we like.

Going back to Ms. Linge’s feedback, we think she wanted a quick rebuttal rather than looking at the data accurately. Was the survey wrong? We went to Braun’s website to read the poll, and unfortunately, it was not on the site. The best way to see inaccuracies is to understand the methodology, sampling practices, and the data to see if something is skewed.

For more information, you can read the article here. Also, go to American FactFinder to easily access census data. 

Understanding your consumer: Generation Alpha
11 Oct 2019
The New Kids on the Block

As if we didn’t feel old already, time to get to know Generation Alpha. We already felt old when it came to Gen Z! We don’t recognize any of these celebrities under the age of 25. If you think the same, get ready to feel even older! 

As we mentioned previously in our blog series, Generation Alpha is almost here! Still, their influence is well and truly here in the form of Millennial parents (aka. Millennial spending power)! It is time to get to know the group that will soon take over the spending power worldwide.  

What We Know About Generation Alpha

So, this generation has been around for almost nine years. What do we know about them so far?

  • The only generation to have been born entirely in the 21st century. 
  • There are more than 22 million Millennial parents, giving birth to about 9,000 babies every day. 
  • Their birth dates started in 2010. So, the majority of the generation are still babies. The older Alphas will begin to make independent decisions around 2025. 
  • By the time 2025 comes around, the generation will consist of 2 billion people. Before we know it, this group will be the largest generation. 
  • This generation already has celebrities and influencers to look up to and be influenced by Ryan ToysReview, a seven year old toy reviewer, has over 18 million subscribers.
How and Why You Should Start Putting Yourself on Generation Alpha’s Radar

It is said that children under 12 years old influence their parents’ purchases — this is worth up to $670 billion per year! On the other hand, while it is essential to try to understand this audience, it is also important to do so ethically. Marketing and advertising to children can gather backlash. However, to do so properly, you must understand the audience that you are trying to target. 


  1. Start with research – you have two options here. Conduct research among the children (which may prove time-consuming and expensive) or communicate with the Millennial parents. Check out our latest blog titled “How to Research to Generation Alpha”.
  2. Now that you understand the parents of Generation Alpha, the ones who have the purse strings, you can communicate with them. 
  3. Allow the kids to advocate for the brand. This generation is up to 9 years old, and they can decide for themselves if they like a brand or product. They have voices and are not afraid to use them – see: Ryan ToysReview. 



Once a year, in Ireland, the youngest generation is given a voice via The Late Late Toy Show, hosted by Ryan Turbridy. This show is an annual ritual and allows the brands targeting children to have children display the product (toy) on National television, with a full audience of over 2 million! So, if you want to do business among Generation Alpha  in Ireland, you know where to start!


There is a lot to learn about the up and coming. We encourage practicing caution before going full steam ahead and marketing to Gen Alpha. As the old saying goes – Look (research) before you leap!


If you would like to read more information on this audience, we have even more blogs written on the topic. This is the last part of a three-part series:

Check out some of our other recent posts from our strategy and advertising research blog here:
  1. Blockchain & the Markest Research Industry
  2. Is Your Research Stuck in the 1980s: Update Your Brand Tracker!
  3. Market Research Doesn’t Need to Be Boring: Improve Data Visualization
  4. Tips For Building Brand Strategy for a Successful Brand
  5. What’s the Difference Between Quantitative and Qualitative?

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Check out our most recent features in the news media:

September 11th, 2019: 40% of U.S. Millennials prefer crypto investments in the event of a recession: eToro Survey

July 31st, 2019: Jewelry Is About to Get its Own ‘Got Milk’ Ads

July 1st, 2019: 22 Top Advertising Research Companies 2019

Keep on the lookout for more blog posts from us!

Provoke Insights is a full-service market research firm. We help build and grow brands using multiple market research methodologies including qualitative, quantitative, and secondary research. We hope to work with you in the future.

How to Research Generation Alpha?
03 Oct 2019

Who is Generation Alpha?

Everyone is talking about the Alpha Generation, the children born after 2009. The oldest in this cohort is just ten years old, and many are still in diapers! As the children of Millennial parents, marketers are eager to learn more about this generation. Let’s talk about how to research Generation Alpha.

Not surprisingly, given their age, not much research has been conducted about this group. Companies often decide not to execute primary research with kids due to the challenges it poses. However, just because this audience is young, doesn’t mean we are in the dark when it comes to information.

There are two ways to learn more about this audience:

  1. Though rare, it is possible to research those ages six to ten. However, you need to be incredibly thoughtful and follow strict COPPA guidelines. This method is a bit more costly and more time-consuming than the other option. You will also need the Alpha Generation participants’ parents to assist with the research process. It is important to note that it is challenging to conduct quantitative research among children younger than five years old. In some cases, in-depth in-person interviews or focus groups may be feasible with this age group. 
  2. You can garner insights from the Alpha Generation parents. Learning from parents is a quick and more cost-effective way to gain insights. Though influenced by their children, parents are the ultimate purchase decision-makers when it comes to buying items for the Alpha Generation.

Research Among the Alpha Generation 

Primary research tools, such as online surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews, are possible. However, some caveats need to be considered. Firstly, researching Generation Alpha is more costly. Also, extra time is required, as it takes more time to recruit these participants, as well as to execute the study.  

You will also need to think like children when developing the research design. Children have less concentration and have difficulty with abstract thoughts. 

Ad research among the Alpha Generation needs to be:

  • Very easy to understand and engaging
  • Questionnaire/guide design needs to include age-appropriate questioning and wording 
  • Parents need to be part of the research process to help explain the questions or directions. 
  • The directions should also help parents gain feedback from their children that is actionable and descriptive
  • If a survey, the scales needs to be relatable and include engaging pictorial survey scales
  • Of course, everything needs to be COPPA compliant (Children’s Online Privacy Protect Rule). Along with general data compliance rules such as GDPR, COPPA requires disclosures and approved consent from both the child and parent before conducting the research. During the disclosure process, the research topic needs to be revealed, as well as how the data will be used. 

Research Among the Alpha Generation Parents

Given the extra time and cost to research the Alpha Generation, it may be too daunting or not feasible. Don’t worry! You can gain a lot of information from the parents (often Millennials). Millennial parents love talking about their children and could be an excellent proxy to learn about the newest generation. 

Research among parents has less rigorous rules regarding compliance, and the cost is typically much lower than conducting studies directly among the children. As mentioned, parents are the ones with the wallets, so they play a significant part in the purchasing process.   

To learn more about the Alpha Generation, you can read these blog entries:

Don’t stress out about your Generation Alpha Research. Take a breather and see who the famous Generation Alpa actors are. There are only a few now, but you can find them on this list.