Remove the zombies from research

“Bringing research to life”.

Ick.

There are over 20,000 results in Google for this horrible, horrible cliche.

And it’s completely meaningless.

Was the research dead beforehand? Have a couple of verbatim quotes and vox pop videos literally brought sentience to the project?

Coming at it from the opposite angle, the expression is quite Stalinistic – “One death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are a statistic”

But mainly, it is just an excuse for poor communicators unable to make data or research interesting, relevant or memorable.

So, please, no more playing God and no more bringing zombies back from the dead. Find a way to let the work speak for itself.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tcmhitchhiker/

NB: I know that zombies are technically undead and a better analogy would have been Frankenstein’s monster, but when the options are comparing respondents to gormless, instinctive fools or a vengeful yet misunderstood creature, what are you going to do?

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3 Responses

  1. Problem is that the aim of the research is the elephant sitting in the room. Safety safety safety. And while everyone talks a good game about creativity most marketing clients run a mile from having to actually manage risk. Better to hand it to the research boys and tame it down all together. With a report that covers their arses.

    No offence in your direction though mate. I’m sure you’d be an exception.

  2. I totally agree – the nature and presentation of the work is objective dependent. Sometimes the person commissioning just needs that rubber stamp to please his or her internal budget holder.

    But on the occasions where research is more exploratory or looks to answer questions without pre-defined answers, there is plenty of scope to be creative in communications. And creative beyond the inclusion of a 20 second video that can bring a bar chart to life

  3. “Was the research dead beforehand?”.

    Yes, usually – and that’s the real issue. I have no problem with ‘bringing research to life’ – the problem is that the way you present the findings has nothing to do with whether you’re achieving that or not. Whether or not it lives is a function of input, not output.

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