You are here: Home » Blog » Better Results

Category: Better Results

Phyllis Macfarlane

ESOMAR Foundation run a session at ESOMAR Congress 2017


A review by Phyllis Macfarlane

The session titled ‘Making the World a Better Place’ aimed at debating some ways forward to help tackle societal issues.



“This is the people’s agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, at the launch of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

This session at the ESOMAR 2017 Congress was focussed on ESOMAR Foundation’s objective to help the Development Aid Sector use research more, and more effectively, to achieve ‘better results’, and the Paragon Partnerships’ objective to help the UN to ‘ leave no-one behind’.

To us market researchers it’s obvious that if you try and change behaviour without really understanding people’s thinking and culture, then you are doomed to failure. You might do something that seems perfectly logical to the western mind, but fail to take account of the recipients’ real feelings and emotions, and it just won’t have the effect you expected. So, without the use of good market research, most aid initiatives are likely to fail. And yet this is exactly what happens  – a lot of the time!

The objective of this session was to showcase the work we have done so far, as ESOMAR Foundation and Paragon, to demonstrate the real difference that good market research can make to aid programmes, in the hope that other NGO’s can learn from these examples.

And here are some remarkable facts:

The value of the Development Aid Sector is $142.6B  ( If only 1% of this money were spent on market research it would represent a $1.4B opportunity for the MR Industry. So, as Steve Kretschmer, of the Surgo Foundation,  expressed so eloquently in the Panel Session, this is a real opportunity for the Industry, as well as a way to make the world better.  He said that he knows of many, many examples  where much of the aid money spent was invested poorly or completely  wasted because little or no real ‘why?’ insights were identified to guide the design of interventions and solutions.

As the first presenter, Hannah Surabhi, of My Choices Foundation, India, showed – research had informed the actions they took all the way through their programme to prevent sex-trafficking in India  – had they done what they originally intended they would not have achieved anything. In fact, had they not had Final Mile’s insights they would have run with a campaign that likely would have done more harm than good.

Georgina Day, of Street Invest, and Flora Somogyi, of Big Sofa, told how they collaborated to create a remarkable video : ‘I am One in a Million’ from qualitative research findings – with the objective of changing the public perception of Street Children – to humanise them.

Too many people dismiss Street Children as criminals and a threat to society. Or they just see them as passive victims  – who need rescuing. Whereas what is really required is to respect Street Children’s realities. Children live on the streets for many reasons, but they often face similar issues: including violent abuse, stigma, political discrimination and rights violations.

In a recent consultation with street youth, hosted by the United Nations, one child said: “People don’t see street children as human beings. When the police clear us off the street they boast that they are removing the rubbish from town.”  Georgina also told us about Street Invest’s unique quantitative method of counting street children – qual and quant working together, to leave no-one behind.  

Sonia Whitehead of BBC Media Action collaborates with media partners to reach more than 200 million people – they work large-scale, mainly in fragile states, to achieve governance, health and resilience outcomes.

In the last 5 years BBC Media Action have carried out a lot of quantitative research. For example,  in 2016 they surveyed over 20,000 people from across their projects.   However, they have also increasingly realised the need for qualitative research to contextualise it, to understand people more deeply, and to explain the impact that they are having.  Also, frequently project budgets don’t enable them to do quantitative surveys – so more and more they need to construct strong qualitative research that will provide donors with the evidence they need. Just as for commercial research, Qualitative research is used to understand difficult-to-reach populations, explore sensitive subjects, and unpick and understand quantitative data. And it’s just as necessary for the Aid sector to do this as it is for any commercial ‘customer-centric’ company.

Alexis Le Nestour described the journey that Save the Children and ESOMAR Foundation/Paragon are on to find ways to research complex issues like Adolescent Girls’ Diet, and Child Marriage, and Attitudes to Beast-Milk Substitute. He identified that the ways in which NGO’s look at research questions can be quite different from how commercial organisations look at their issues. NGO’s are interested in tackling big, complex questions that are sometimes hard to decompose.  Save the Children works with the most marginalised populations which are not often covered by standard market research: there may not be agencies in the poorest countries in the world or in fragile countries; survey techniques may not be appropriate; some of the issues are extremely sensitive , for example trauma, sexual violence etc,. We do need to work at communication and education if we are to achieve our objective of getting research used more.

In summary, we showed several excellent examples of how Qualitative research had made the difference between success and failure. How  research can change perceptions.

So why isn’t more qual and quant research done by the sector?

  • Because Qual research is not seen as rigorous enough by donors
  • Because it’s difficult to measure change – you have to take a longer term view than most Aid project timetables allow
  • Because we can’t communicate properly – yet!

So, what we’ve learnt in the last year is that it’s difficult to break down the barriers, even when everyone is trying hard.

Acceptance of Qualitative research is low – we just have to work harder to demonstrate how necessary Qual is to solving problems – and we have to improve the quality of qual research practice and reporting.

And the Quant requirement is complex – the data is difficult to collect and the audience can be difficult to find – new, robust, methodologies are required.

Also, NGO’s are conflicted – they hope that new tech approaches will help – but they know that unless the research is properly ‘scientific’ then it won’t be accepted.

But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean that should give up – au contraire! – we just have to work harder to find the right way to communicate our value – to understand the issues , break them down and find the insights to resolve them.

It sometimes feels like we’re banging our heads against a brick wall – but, as we learnt from both Keynote speakers on the following day at Congress, actually nothing worthwhile is achieved without a great deal of effort. And whilst the Client Panel, also on the following day, showed that the commercial sector has the imperative of wanting research to be done more frequently, faster and cheaper, in the Development Aid sector they need more long term thinking, rigour, and real human understanding. Exactly what we can deliver – if only we can learn the language.

The Market Research Industry  can make the world a better place by helping the UN monitor progress on the 2030 SDG’s and by helping the Development Aid sector do the right things to change lives.

As ESOMAR Foundation and Paragon we are working together for this – we look for your support!

(Originally posted in RWConnect)

Look beyond numbers: we need to know why change happens

Sonia Whitehead, Head of Research Programmes at BBC Media Action gave an insightful presentation at an ESOMAR Foundation session recently held in Amsterdam during the ESOMAR Congress. The session aimed at debating some ways forward to help tackle societal issues.

Working in the development sector I am aware that, particularly over the last few years, donors and others expect project results to be quantifiable. Numbers talk.

This was apparent at the UN World Data Forum in Cape Town in January when we looked at how the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) will be measured, and it was discussed again at the Esomar World Research Congress in Amsterdam this week. Donors want statistics to demonstrate impact and show a project is value for money, but aren’t as confident using insights from qualitative research.

In my team we crunch a lot of numbers. In 2016, for example, we surveyed more than 20,000 people, which yielded strong results. For example, a statistical analysis of governance data across seven countries (which controlled for confounders such as people’s age, education levels and existing interests) shows that people who listened to or watched our programmes know more about politics and get more involved in civic life. In our health work, we used quantitative data to understand how change happens.

But we have increasingly come to appreciate the need for qualitative research to contextualise our data and explain why we are having an impact. We’re not alone.

At the Esomar conference I took part in a panel with colleagues from My Choices Foundation, StreetInvest, and Save the Children to showcase how qualitative research can provide greater value to the development sector. I summarised what we had learned from our recent projects.

Story behind the numbers

Qualitative research helps us to explain the story behind quantitative data.

Our radio health shows in Ethiopia, Jember (Maternal Light) and Biiftuu Jireenya (Dawn of Life) aim to help women have safer pregnancies and deliveries, and improve the health of newborn babies. Our surveys showed they were reaching a huge audience – around 21 million people across three states – more than a third of the adult population.

However, analysis of our data showed it was difficult to isolate the impact of our programmes. The health sector in Ethiopia was changing fast the government and donor investment leading to local health workers being trained across the country. This investment was reaping benefits; data from the Demographic and Health Survey showed the percentage of women going for antenatal care had jumped from 27 % to 62 % between 2011 and 2016. But what impact were we having?

To understand, we designed qualitative research, whereby we spoke to women and those they felt influenced their decisions (such as their local health extension worker, their husbands and close family members).

Women told us how health services and social norms had changed since they had given birth to their older children. Things that had been unthinkable, such as giving birth at a health facility, were now possible. They were also able to identify storylines and items in the shows that made them think differently about what was “normal” during pregnancy and birth. The shows were reinforcing the advice that health workers were giving – and health workers also felt women trusted them more because they were saying the same information that they had heard on the radio.

Reaching vulnerable people

A limitation of quantitative research is that it’s hard to reach vulnerable groups such as refugees or survivors of gender-based violence. They are less likely to agree to a face-to-face survey or might not have a fixed address. In this situation, it helps to use qualitative research techniques that put respondents at ease.

Last year, we spoke to Syrian refugees travelling from Greece to Germany to understand how humanitarian agencies could best communicate with them. We employed Arabic-speaking researchers and trained them to use a narrative approach, where they sat with a refugee for at least an hour, hearing about their journey and the part communication had played in it. Being listened to, rather than asked a series of fixed questions, helped the respondents feel comfortable and more likely to share information.

Qualitative research can also help us understand sensitive issues. In Syria, we assessed our radio drama Hay el Matar. To understand issues around the conflict we asked a trusted, local NGO to use projective techniques. This involved asking respondents to discuss the feelings of others – either people in their community or an “extremist” character in the drama. People felt more comfortable talking about how others view violence, or explaining the motives of a fictional character, than talking about themselves.

We discovered that Syrians interpreted people’s accents as a strong signal for which side of the conflict they were on. We relayed this to our radio producers who took greater care with the accents of the actors. We could not have grasped these nuances with quantitative data alone.

Insights on a budget

There’s another cold, hard fact to take into account. Conducting quantitative research, on the scale needed to measure media interventions, is expensive. Project budgets often don’t stretch to this so we need to gain qualitative insights in the absence of large-scale, representative surveys.

At the end of the panel discussion in Amsterdam this week, the Esomar Foundation’s Phyllis MacFarlane asked a crucial question: “What does the development sector need to do for qualitative research to be taken more seriously? Steve Kretschmer from Surgo Foundation summed it up nicely. Quantitative data needs to be used to explain the “what” he said, but when it comes to the “why”, well-designed qualitative research is invaluable. He added that the development sector could work with the commercial sector to adopt practices such as using video to capture emotions (rather than relying on what people say) to make the most of audience insight and – most importantly – to make a difference.

More on that another time …

Sonia Whitehead is Head of Research at BBC Media Action.

(Originally posted in BBC Media Action Insight Blog)


Join the ‘Research for Good’ Competition

Give a chance to the most inspiring example of research for social good in action to be of help to NGOs, their causes and the world!

Submit by 16 December 2017!



Do you do Social research? Does your research contribute to understanding the human condition to better the human condition? Are you keen to showcase your unique insights to the world through an advertising campaign in 2018? The best, most inspiring and surprising example will form the basis of the 2018 advertising campaign supported by System1 advertising agency and Oath (charity arm of AOL).

Inspired by the Meena’ story and willing to portray similar stories where research helped bettering the human condition, the ESOMAR Foundation is running the Research for Good Competition.


How to enter?

Fill in the entry form and send your submission by 16 December 2017!


Understanding the human condition, to better the human condition.

 In collaboration with:



Sex trafficking, poverty, street children, child marriage…research can help finding solutions

 My Choices Foundation, BBC Media Action, StreetInvest, Save the Children and Surgo Foundation have worked hard together with the market research industry in looking at the insights that help finding the most appropriate solutions to these societal problems affecting millions of people around the world!

On 12 September these organisations will present their findings at an ESOMAR Foundation event and will debate some ways forward to help tackle these societal issues. The session will be part of the ESOMAR Annual Congress to be held in Amsterdam on 11-13 September.

Meena’s story about sex trafficking in India is just one the stories we feature at this event….

Read more about Meena’s story

Not able to attend in person? No problem, you can follow this session and other parts of the event for free by registering to ESOMAR TV

For more information contact us at:

ESOMAR Foundation highlights how the right insight can disrupt sex slavery and calls for support!

Meena’s story is what we want to tell you about. It’s one of the many stories about sex trade in India. We hope by reading about Meena and her ordeal you will help this cause.

Why is the ESOMAR Foundation so keen on this story? Well, you probably do not know but through the brave work of My Choices Foundation and Final Mile and their insight into the real issues of sex slavery they understood that by focusing on the fathers who are unknowingly selling their precious daughters into slavery, they knew they could disrupt the sex trade and save girls like Meena.

Read the full story here… MEENA’S STORY


But, we need your help to do more, much more.

Please help by choosing one of the following…

Buy a ticket to our charity prize draw for EUR 30

Corporate Donation Enquiry EUR 3000

‘Research for Good’ Competition


To find out more, you can register for My Choices Foundation live-streamed presentation at ESOMAR Congress, Tues 12th Sept at 11.15 CEST. You can also donate directly to their work.

Making the World a Better Place

A not-to-be-missed session organised by the ESOMAR Foundation (Part 2)




How engaging and fundamental this can be! We have recently written about the special session that the ESOMAR Foundation will hold on 12 September at the ESOMAR 70th Anniversary Annual Congress. While ESOMAR celebrates its anniversary, the Foundation looks at the essential area of society which refers to eradicating poverty and leaving no one behind.

The market research industry has a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can be applied to every aspect of society to ensure a more transparent, reliable and sustainable world. Market researchers are great believers of applying their skills and knowledge to do social good, so we already know that we can count on their participation and involvement in the discussions. It’s a golden opportunity to mobilise forces within the industry and reach out to NGOs and all interested parties. The aim is to create synergies and cooperation to make the world a better place!

Here is the programme:

From Village to Virtual Reality
How behavioural research has transformed the Red Alert approach to prevention of sex-trafficking in India

Hannah Surabhi, My Choices Foundation, India

My Choices Foundation exists to give women and girls in India the choice to live lives free from abuse, violence and exploitation. It does this by addressing two of India’s most pervasive and intractable issues: Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking. Their anti sex-trafficking work through Operation Red Alert is leading the prevention movement in India, and has become an international pioneer in its technology-driven approach. The presentation will cover how My Choices is applying the findings from their research (that employed learnings from cognitive neuroscience and behavioural economics) to understand and influence the behaviour of families at high risk to sex-trafficking.

Using Qualitative research to develop and understand the impact of media content in difficult contexts – Afghanistan, South Sudan and Somalia

Sonia Whitehead, BBC Media Action, UK

BBC Media Action is the BBC’s international development charity who use the power of media and communication to help reduce poverty and support people in understanding their rights. Sonia Whitehead will summarise how they have used qualitative research to both inform the development of TV and Radio programmes and understand their impact. Work will be presented from countries such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Somalia.

 “I am one in a million” – Respecting street children’s realities

Georgina Day, Streetinvest, UK and Flora Somogyi, BigSofa, UK

StreetInvest is a global charity that exists to improve the lives of street children. StreetInvest believes that participatory research and data collection are an integral part of developing successful programmes on the ground and national and international policies and legislation. StreetInvest and Video Analytics Company, Big Sofa, will share how they have used rich qualitative video data from ethnographic research, to generate insights into this marginalised and often invisible population, and how they hope to go beyond informing stakeholders, to influencing change in the way interventions are designed.

Paragon Partnership with Save the Children UK – Early progresses and lessons

Alexis Le Nestour, Save the Children, UK

The Paragon partnership connects market research agencies with NGOs to provide support on research. Paragon is supporting Save the Children UK in its research on adolescent girl nutrition and child marriage in Western and Central Africa. The presentation will provide more details about the progresses made and how it complements the type of research done by SCUK. Lessons for NGOs and market research agencies that wish to engage in common research project will be discussed.

How can we make a difference?

The presentations will be followed by a Panel discussion including the above speakers as panelists and with the participation of  Steve Kretschmer, Managing Director of the Surgo Foundation. Topics to be tackled during the panel discussion are:

  • What can the MR Industry do to achieve this vision?
  • How can we better use the data we already have and the surveys we do?
  • How can we promote and demonstrate the value of Qualitative and Ethnographic data to Donors and Policy Makers?
  • How can we mobilise our experts and energetic young researchers?
  • How can we really make a difference?

The session will be led and moderated by Gunilla Broadbent, ESOMAR Foundation President and Phyllis Macfarlane, ESOMAR Foundation Treasurer,

This is a unique opportunity for the ESOMAR Foundation to take an active part in the 70th anniversary ESOMAR Congress. Watch this space for more news on the programme. For more information contact us at:




How Market Research can help the world ‘Leave no one behind’

A not-to-be-missed session organised by the ESOMAR Foundation (Part 1)




On 12 September, the ESOMAR Foundation will participate with a full session on ‘Making the World a Better Place’ at the ESOMAR Congress 2017 in Amsterdam. Over 1,000 insight, research and data experts from all over the world will gather in Amsterdam to discuss business and societal issues and how creativity, innovation and insights can influence decision making.

The ESOMAR Foundation will take stage with a key topic that promises hope and raises important issues on “How Market Research can help the world ‘Leave no one behind’ *

*“This is the people’s agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, at the launch of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

It’s 2030 and the world is celebrating the achievement of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals:

The Market Research Community is justly proud of the very valuable contribution it has made to the achievement of those Global Goals – particularly to the ‘Leave no one behind’ directive – and is hosting a huge party for all those involved, since the work, and its effect on the achievement of the Global Goals, has transformed the image of the industry in the last decade, demonstrating the relevance of real MR to both the Data Revolution and the CSR agenda. Graduates now clamour to join the industry, which is seen as innovative, forward looking and socially responsible

This session will be a ‘call to action’ both to our experts and our young researchers. Case studies will set the scene and a panel discussion will focus on:

• What can the MR Industry do to achieve this vision?
• How can we better use the data we already have and the surveys we do?
• How can we promote and demonstrate the value of Qualitative and Ethnographic data to Donors and Policy Makers?
• How can we mobilise our experts and energetic young researchers?
• How can we really make a difference?

Gunilla Broadbent, ESOMAR Foundation President and Phyllis Macfarlane, ESOMAR Foundation Treasurer, will lead the programme. Speakers and panelists representing different stakeholders (organisations, NGOs and research agencies) will animate what it promises to be a not-to-be-missed session in Amsterdam.

This is a unique opportunity for the ESOMAR Foundation to take an active part in the 70th anniversary ESOMAR Congress. Watch this space for more news on the programme. For more information contact us at:


Measuring the nature and scale of violence against women in the EU

What is violence against women and why does it matter?

Violence against women (VAW) is one of the most systematic and widespread human rights violations across the world. The United Nations defines violence against women as;

any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life[1].”

 Examples of violence against women include; physical violence, sexual violence including rape, psychological violence including stalking, control or denigration as well as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and honour crimes.

Most violence against women is perpetrated by men. These can be intimate partners – the people with whom women are either in or have been in a relationship with or other people such as family members, colleagues, acquaintances or strangers. Therefore, violence against women is embedded in gendered social structures and closely interrelated with gender inequality, poverty and economic dependence.

VAW is systematically underreported to the police or other agencies so the scale of the issue is not reflected in official data. Furthermore, intimate partner violence is often seen as a “private” matter of the home, which makes women less likely to speak out. This matters because it means that decision-makers, practitioners, non-governmental organisations and other actors don’t have the data needed to make informed decisions and to develop targeted policies to address and prevent it.

 In response to a lack of comparable data on violence against women, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights[2] (FRA) commissioned a consortium led by Ipsos MORI[3] to conduct the first EU-wide robust and comparable survey on the extent, nature and consequences of violence against women, as reported by women. Ipsos MORI oversaw the data collection, contracting affiliated agencies in each country to carry out the fieldwork.

What methods do you use to collect reliable data on sensitive subjects?

Due to low levels of reporting to the police or other agencies and the difficulties associated with holding perpetrators to account through the judicial system, population based surveys provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of violence against women.

In 2012, Ipsos MORI on behalf of FRA conducted a face-to-face survey with 42,000 women across the 28 Member States of the European Union[4]. The survey included questions about physical, sexual and psychological violence, childhood victimisation, sexual harassment and stalking (including the role of the internet). The survey consisted of 1,500 interviews with women in each country, with the exception of Luxembourg where 900 women were interviewed. The women were selected from the general population to participate using a multistage random (probability) sampling approach. The sampling approach is important because it ensures that the results are representative of the female population aged 18 – 74 years living in each EU Member State and increases comparability of the survey results between countries.

Interviewing women about their experiences of violence is a delicate and sensitive situation. The aim of a survey of this nature is to encourage the respondent to disclose her experiences of violence to the interviewer without causing re-victimisation or re-traumatisation. For example, some women may be traumatised or experience distress when recalling and describing these events. Others may have repressed the memory of the abuse, and yet others may have never spoken about their experiences.

To address the sensitivities, interviewers were trained using a survivor-centred approach. Some techniques used in this approach include;

  • Having an all-female interviewing team
  • Not mentioning or defining violence, only asking about specific actions
  • Only conducting the interview in a private setting so as to avoid retaliation
  • Providing information about local support services when asked

As a result, many respondents, including some of those who had not talked to anyone about the violent incident, were ready to share their experiences with the interviewer and appreciated the fact that they were asked about a topic which they considered very important. Ipsos MORI delivered the final dataset and technical report to FRA, who completed the full analysis of the results.

What happened as a result?

Headline findings show that 33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, while 5% have been raped since the age of 15. Just 33% of victims of partner violence and 26% of victims of non-partner violence either contacted the police or some other organisation (such as victim support) following the most serious incident of violence. The results of non-reporting of incidents of violence highlight the importance of using population based surveys to gather data on this issue[5].

FRA released the results of the study in March 2014 and the information collected has allowed FRA to make a number of recommendations on how to address this issue and better protect the human rights of women in the EU. Examples include amongst others;

  • Member States should take particular note of the needs of victims of gender-based violence when applying the EU Victims’ Rights Directive
  • Member States should ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) and the EU should follow suit

In the days following the launch of the results, FRA recorded more than 1,500 news articles and broadcast items referencing the results of the survey. At EU level – as an example – European Commission has used the results to justify funding for awareness raising campaigns to tackle violence against women, while Members of the European Parliament and civil society organisations have found in the survey results a tool which supports their calls for better victim protection measures, for example through the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

To make the empirical data accessible to a wide audience FRA used a variety of dissemination techniques. This includes official publications, press releases and speaking at events to raise awareness as well as data visualisation tools and video presentations. Please visit the project website here for more information.

Ipsos MORI has built upon the methodological skills its team developed during this project by continuing to deliver population based surveys that explore issues related to violence against women with partners in Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

[1] General Assembly Resolution 48/104 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993


[3] Ipsos MORI worked with HEUNI and UNICRI in the delivery of this study

[4] For full details of the project please refer to the FRA’s main results report found here;

[5] FRA, Violence against Women: an EU-wide survey – Results at a glance, Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union, 2014,

If you wish to know more about this project please contact: Sara Grant-Vest, Research Director, International Social Research, Social Research Institute, Ipsos MORI | | @ipsosmori



Shedding Light on the Digital Grey Areas of Teen Dating Violence: Co-Creation Research


In 2007  the Family Violence Prevention Fund partnered with the Ad Council and R/GA to create a campaign to prevent teen dating violence both now and as teens mature and enter adulthood.  Our initial research found that teen dating had gone digital and teen dating abuse online had followed. This emerging area became our focus.

Research was conducted at key points of the year-long development process. Because we wanted to understand how teens interact with each other in a digital environment, we created that environment and then brought respondents in to interact with it.  At every point in the research process, respondents created artifacts—words, pictures and ideas—that did not just inform the subsequent campaign, but literally became part of the campaign.

In early 2009, the site and multimedia campaign was launched to draw teens’ attention to the issue of digital dating violence and to help them “draw their digital line” by deciding for themselves what’s right or wrong rather than be lectured by adults.

The campaign included banners, social media, TV, print, radio, outdoors and a mobile site. At the website teens could view content, as well as create and share videos, call out cards and more. The campaign helped start a conversation in the media on teen dating abuse and in the first few months led to over 300,000 visitors, 200,000 video views and 28,000 call out cards sent.

Please take a look at this short video to learn more about the challenge, the research, development of the campaign and to see the creative in action.


Research Phase I (2007 – 2008)

First we reviewed existing academic and secondary research. Next we needed qualitative research to get a deeper, more nuanced and current understanding of the situation – including teens’ social norms, and vernacular. And we needed nationwide input on a tight timeline.

Abby Leafe head of New Leafe Research partnered with Judith Oppenheim, research director at RGA, and the team in developing innovative research methodologies to meet budget, timing and diversity constraints; leverage new digital research opportunities; and create an environment where teens would be comfortable participating and being open. Ben Smithee head of The Smithee Group conducted the male friendship groups.

  • Online Immersion: This phase explored the language, attitudes and behaviors of teens regarding dating. For a week, they recorded their lives and experiences in words and photos on their own ‘blog’ created for this research.  This included structured activities and open-ended forums.

Figure 1:  Teen blogging interface


  • In-home friendship circles (14 in 3 cities): The next phase built upon these learnings using friendship circle discussions conducted in the home of a host teen who recruited same sex friends.  The first step was getting the host parent’s permission. We included structured discussion and  loosely directed conversation about their dating life and language.

Figure 2: Portion of Language Dictionary which emerged from early qualitative


Next we held creative development work sessions with creative teams and teens.

  • Creative development workshops:  We had 5 same-sex friendship groups of 3-6 teens per group. It was important to ensure authenticity and excitement in the campaign experience, language, and look and feel. We had a mixture of exercises such as word sorts, word mapping, and sketching, as well as exposure to work-in-progress concept stimuli.

With the input from the creativity workshops, R/GA developed a revised set of concepts for exploration with a new set of teens.

  • Concept evaluation groups: Friendship circles evaluated the creative overall as well as specific components.
    • Concept review: Feedback on campaign elements, including mobile, out-of-home, print, TV, radio, and web site.
    • Creation stations: The concept for the campaign web site included a host of interactive tools, including a fairly robust video creation application, an interactive quiz and an ‘i-card’ creator. The room was set up as a ‘laboratory’ with two distinct “creation stations” where respondents were asked to try the tools, and specifically to create their own video in responses to the creative elements they previewed during the focus group.  Respondents were provided with a host of everyday props to use to create their videos, including, dolls, toys, puppets and so on.

Figure 3:  Content created by respondents with group stimuli


Phase 2 (2009) 

A second phase of research was conducted to provide guidance on how to strengthen individual campaign elements or to add additional components.

  • The first stage used  in-home friendship focus groups to explore the current campaign
    • In addition to a general discussion about their lives, friendships and romantic interests more structured activities included sorting photographs of celebrity couples into the categories of ‘the good,’ ‘the bad,’ and ‘the ugly.’  Lastly, each group was given the opportunity to visit to give their impressions of the site in general.

Figure 4:

  • The second stage included an online video diary, a texting journal and a survey of respondents’ social networking pages.
    •  Daily written and video based activities covering role playing, tech usage demonstrations, problem/solution creation
    • Texting the moderator each time they were engaged in a digital communication with a romantic interest
    • Documenting each time they saw, read or heard something that fit the theme of “digital grey areas’
    • Texting a “status update” at regular intervals (e.g.hourly) to help paint a picture of “a day in the life” of today’s teens

Figure 5: Prioritization of digital infractions
















A Less Charitable Cashless Society? – Tapping Into New ‘Tap To Give’ Technology


The shift from a cash-carrying to cash-less society in the UK has been incredibly rapid, with the effects of the shift to contactless increasing in the past year – there are now over 100 million contactless cards in issue in the UK and over 350 million contactless transactions were made in December 2016 alone. Although this shift to using digital transactions has been lauded by many as proof of new technological advances making our lives easier, it has also created challenges and barriers to charitable giving that charities and brands must tackle together to overcome.

For many of us who don’t carry cash – or at least not in the same way we did 10 years ago – we are unable to donate our spare change to those in need as we used to do. In the Netherlands an ad agency recently released a new solution to this growing tension; a jacket, to be worn by homeless people that not only keeps them warm but also allows passers-by to donate €1 by tapping the contactless payment area. The money that is donated can then be redeemed in shelters for food, a bed and a bath, and those who donate can be sure that their donations are being used as they would wish.

This isn’t the first foray by charities to try and encourage us to donate using our contactless cards – Cancer Research UK have trialled contactless donation terminals in central locations, and the Blue Cross attached contactless donation points to dogs to create the world’s first canine fundraisers – ‘Tap Dogs’. The move to cash-free is forcing charities to rapidly innovate, but this can be incredibly beneficial to their fundraising. The children’s charity NSPCC said that their recent trial using contactless donations set at a fixed amount of £2 actually increased their average donations, because people are less likely to donate small coin denominations.

Part of the reason why contactless donations have captured people’s imaginations is due to the new kinds of interaction that they provide. Contactless technology is often criticised for diminishing human social interaction, but some charities have creatively flipped this expectation on its head. The Blue Cross have used dogs to create a human-canine interaction, but Cancer Research UK have also used contactless technology to trial new interactive window displays. When a contactless donation was given, the shop windows displayed a video showing the difference that can be made by the money given. Not only does this innovation close the gap between giving to charitable causes and seeing the effects of that donation, it is also available 24/7, and utilises the physical space on the high street that the charity already has at their disposal.

Contactless donations have also taken off because they tap into our need for everything to be on demand and instantaneous. Talking to someone in the street, filling out endless clipboard forms and having to stay involved and engaged through endless emails and letters doesn’t fit with our new, fast-paced, more demanding mode of living. By using contactless donations, charities can combat this problem of a more time-poor, less patient society, by giving supporters more autonomy over their donation.

At Kantar Added Value we believe that brands should play a vital role in shifting and shaping changes in culture. We’d love to see charities partnering with other brands in this area to fully explore all innovation opportunities; people want to donate money to worthy causes, but they now expect this to fit in around their lives with as little effort and fuss as possible. Mastercard have already voiced their concerns about the growing gap between those who have access to bank accounts, and those who are cut off from the rest of society and denied opportunities because of their dependence on cash. Mastercard and other financial services brands could work to resolve this issue by backing a charity contactless campaign, such as the jacket for homeless people, to provide more credibility and confidence for those who decide to donate on the street. Alternatively supermarkets could encourage in-store charity donations by offering to round up transaction amounts, from say £6.59 to £7.00, with the extra money going straight to the customer’s charity of choice, to provide a seamless donation experience.

Although the evolving digital economy offers solutions and possibilities for many, we must be careful as a society to ensure that those without access to it are not excluded entirely – and brands should play a vital part in helping to bridge this gap. Charities also need to ensure that they are not left behind by changing societal behaviours, and that they continue to innovate and explore new modes of charitable giving.

In Brief…

We wanted to examine how technology is changing and how people use it to interact with culture. We worked with the Cultural Strategy team at Kantar Added Value and utilized cultural scoping and trends research to explore how things manifest and change in culture.

 For this work we used qualitative trends research, and looked at the actions of brands in the charity and financial sector to draw strong conclusions about the changing nature of charitable giving. For this piece of work we looked specifically at technology and how the most emergent and switched on charities were using this to their advantage.

We now have a greater understanding of how new digital technology is shifting cultural and societal behaviors, and have developed a strong call to arms for brands to become involved in the charity sector. This research has shown how the third sector can stay abreast of but also drive cultural change, and how they can work collaboratively with brands. The research encourages charities not to see these cultural shifts as problems but opportunities to stay relevant and a part of peoples lives.


Hannah Robbins – The Cultural Practice at Kantar Added Value