Here at W5, many of us like to listen to podcasts. One of my recent favorites is ESPN’s 30 for 30, a podcast version of their popular video documentary series. The first episode, The Trials of Dan and Dave, focuses on two decathletes, Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson, and their competition for a place on the USA 1992 Summer Olympics team and the gold medal. Reebok, hoping to gain attention in a market dominated by Nike, signed both athletes to star in a series of commercials leading up to the Olympic trials as well as in the Olympic games themselves. Unfortunately, after $30 million in advertising spending later that began during the Super Bowl XXVI, Dan O’Brien failed to qualify for the Olympics team and ruined the remainder of the already-produced Dan vs. Dave storyline.

Although Reebok was able to recreate certain advertisements for the end of their campaign, it is imperative for creative agencies to be in control of their brand’s message. With the heightened anticipation around the Olympic games, Reebok took a leap of faith that Dan or Dave would make it through to a place on the team, which would have allowed for their advertisements to continue as planned.

Even though most current advertising campaigns don’t depend on such high stakes, brand and strategic planners have many tools at their disposal to get a good understanding of consumers’ and the market’s attitudes towards proposed concepts. From virtual or in-person focus groups to online surveys, research participants can give creative agencies and their clients anything from a quick “gut check” to a complete ideation session around proposed concepts. The more prepared that a company or a brand can go into the market with creative material, the better they are able to control their own message.

Check out a picture of Dan and Dave below and click the link to listen to the entire podcast episode:

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