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A splendid, if detailed, review of last night’s balloon debate at the Independent Consultant Group’s event, from Corky Gormley.

A lovely result for me, thank you folks!

Imagine this.
You are you, a lovely person in a balloon, with three other equally lovely people, and you’re floating dreamily in a beautiful azure blue sky.
The only sound is the gas flaring up intermittently, and as you float dreamily through the heavens, shortly to be bejewelled by a million stars when their velvet cloak of darkness descends, you feel you are in a calm and peaceful heaven, and all is right with the world.
If only this moment could last forever …
You must be one of the luckiest people to be in a position to enjoy this calm and tranquility …
But …. Dun dun derrrrrrrr!!!!!!
This vision of wonder and beauty, this opportunity to rise above your fellow mortals and look down on them from on high is (of course) only an illusion.
Fools!
Three of the four people will meet a brutal end – as they are mercilessly thrown out of the balloon, and only one person will survive as victorious.
But how could this be?
Is the victor also a murderer?
And who are these people, what are they doing, where are they, and how did they get there?
All be be revealed … And this is a true story … Only part of it is wild imaginings and supposition.
The four lovely people are:

  • Becky Rowe, MD of ESRO (star ethnographic researcher)
  • Roy Langmaid, The Langmaid Practice (Qual guru)
  • Mike Wooderson, MD of Cobalt Sky (Big Data man)
  • Dave Hannay, Global Chief Research Officer – Brand Equity, IPSOS

And they are in an imaginary balloon, at The Market Porter Pub, Borough Market in London.
This is Burn’s Night, and the debate is called a balloon debate.
The topic is ‘In the future, all market research will be done this way…’.
And the chair is Andrew Smith
The murderers are the audience, no less, who after each person has spoken on the future of market research, must vote to have three of the four people removed from the balloon and dunked unceremoniously, and without remorse, into the briny.
Sharks or not.
One at a time.
This is in order to place maximum pressure and induce maximum brilliance, wit and repartee into those remaining but for how long?
Yes, it¹s true.
The ICG makes its guests sink or swim, and only allows one to be victorious!
The howling mob which is the audience, is a truly terrifying sight to behold for these brave four.
Baying, some a little tipsy, smiling (but smiling mercilessly of course).
Some in the audience had even dressed appropriately with varying amounts of tartan clothing ranging from a tiny bow tie (Andrew Smith), to a lovely red tartan tie and scarf (Ed Newton) to the whole shebang (Robin Shuker in tartan trews and Maragaret Cheng¹s husband in a kilt both with white shirts and proper Scottish jackets to complete their outfits).
Matt Kirby has even brought a ŒSee You Jimmy¹ tartan hat, complete with wild highlander red hair attached.
Truly terrifying to behold!
The lovely people spoke, and the brutality of the audience, in all its lack of wisdom, was revealed.
Cobalt Sky was the sponsor of the event, and who did the audience choose to remove first?
Yes it¹s true, and one must wonder at the wisdom of simply counting numbers without first exploring the reasons for their choice in depth – I said, as a proper qualitative researcher (is there any other kind?).
So cutting off its nose to spite its face, the audience threw Mike out first!
(That wasn¹t anything to do with me Mike! I thought you were fab.)
Soon Mike was followed by a very eloquent Becky, who did wonder why we all had to be straight bananas when the only thing to do was be naturally curvy?
Now only two remained, and who was going to emerge the victor?
The tension rose and the debate elevated to new heights with an extra burst of flame.
Dave Hannay, who did cleverly try to demonstrate that really he agreed with a lot of the others, although he was arguing about the future of real time mobile technology to compensate for people¹s lack of attention and failing memories what flavour was the toothpaste you used this morning? – was the final lovely person to be tipped out …
… to leave Roy Langmaid victorious!
Well, after 45 years in the business and a magnetic final argument about not to forget the phenomenon of fashion in research methods and to remind us that really, what can we possibly know, or trust, if we don¹t form relationships first or get to know and understand people in more depth?
A worthy winner indeed.
He also introduced a new psychological phenomenon to us.
Continuous Partial Attention.
OK stand up all those who were also browsing a website, checking their mobile phones or watching TV whilst also (skim) reading this!
It was a fun evening and huge thanks to all, with a special mention of course to Andrew, Andy and Arthur.
Forgive me if I have left anyone out.
Robin, after his Rabbie Burns rendition with another guy (who I¹m afraid I can¹t mention by name as I don¹t know who he is) even brought a large sharp knife with which to murder the haggis before eating.
Don¹t ask me what that was like though.
I chose the vegetarian option.
A despatch from Princess Corky.
Live from The Palace.