Peter Cooper RIP

Guinness glass 200 The death of Peter Cooper was announced earlier this week – and I haven't been anywhere since with researchers where I could huddle and swap stories so this will have to do. Peter was a qualified psychologist who led the charge to take qualitative research mainstream. He started at a time when nobody knew what a discussion group was outside of a psychiatric hospital. The techniques for recruitment, fieldwork and analysis all needed adapting from their psychotherapeutic beginnings. And Peter was one who stayed closest to the roots with his agency CRAM.

When I got my first job in advertising Peter was at the height of his powers. Guinness wouldn't consider doing development research without him. The agency ABM had a raft of bloated dull clients who wanted exciting advertising to change their image and leaving aside whether the agency's creative work was anything to write home about (it wasn't) Peter delivered enthralling research debriefs. Mind you his methods were show stoppers. He got respondents modelling clay as they talked about the Guinness brand – there was a lot of discussion about phalluses at that particular debrief. I was working on the milk account and still have his debrief on the brand differences between the dairies as epitomised by breasts – if the Co-op Dairy were a breast what would it look like..? Answer plumper than Unigate. This may seem bizarre even comical now but was deadly serious then.  And when the managing director of a 300+ agency was foolish enough to question his judgement Peter commented that he was welcome to go and do the research himself. The power of Guinness advertising today comes from a raft of deep motivational psychology of which he was the principal architect. One of the first gurus of qualitative research Peter kept pushing the boundaries. Whenever researcher complain that research has become too corporate and dull, its to individuals like Peter that they look back.

 Guinness-world-grass

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