We're working on a couple of video projects with one of our favourite clients, UK retail chain Debenhams.
During the sign-off process of a video on the subject of Disability Discrimination, the client showed the video to a small "focus group" for feedback.
Now, the video is a kind of "Twilight Zone" story in which a shop assistant, Dan, is rude and thoughtless to a girl in a wheelchair. After witnessing his rudeness, a shop assistant (who may be real or not) makes it her mission to be as rude back to Dan when he subsequently pops into the store on his day off.
After watching the programme, 50% of the focus group said that they didn't "get it" until half-way through. So, the client asked if there was anything we could do to make it more obvious that the story was about Dan was getting a taste of his own medicine.
A few years ago, we would have given in to this request, terrified at the thought of an audience not "getting" our programme. We'd have stuck in a bunch of captions explaining every nuance, and a summary screen at the end.
However, we didn't. Would an audience have enjoyed The Sixth Sense more if they knew from the beginning that Bruce Willis's character was dead? Would Fight Club have been a better film if we knew from the word go that Tyler Durden was a figment of the narrator's imagination? An audience not immediately "getting it" is not a bad thing. In fact, if anything, it's hopefully what's keeping the viewer's curiosity raised. When the moment of realisation kicks in - BAM, you've created a memorable programme.
This is all about interpretation of focus group data. The knee-jerk response to an audience expressing confusion is to dilute the story and explain it a bit more to them. People in focus groups lie. Or at least, they don't *really* know what they want (remember the Pepsi Challenge and New Coke...?).
We stuck to our guns, and so did the client. We deliver the programme this week, and look forward to the feedback!