Friday, July 10, 2009

Ethno schmethnos

I had an uncomfortable exchange of emails with a client this week. We are pitching for a rather large job in Asia and are up against one other agency. The brief includes a substantial ethnographic portion. So I wrote up my proposal, checked it over after a good night's sleep to make sure it all made sense, attached it and pressed the 'send' button on Outlook.

Not long afterwards I received a reply: 'the other proposals include 40 ethnographic observations per market! How come you are only proposing 8?'

I decided to phone him up.

"The reason why they have proposed 40 ethnographic observations is that they are not ethnographic observations. They are IDI's (In Depth Interviews)."

He disagreed.

"I have read these proposals and I know they include observations..."

"Then please don't call them ethnographic... what you are reading is qualitative interviews done with video cameras." I pleaded

I sent him a few clips, including this one, so he would understand that it is simply not possible to conduct 40 ethnographic observation unless you have unlimited budgets. Which they don't.

He came back to me to say that he thought he understood the difference. His next question:

"How can we ensure 8 respondents behaviours are representative?"

"So why do you have a quantitative phase then?"

I will let you know whether or not we win this study.


1 comment:

  1. Honestly, it sounds like this client can understand the issues. Those questions are predictable (and common, even in academic circles) and it seems like it's part of a process of co-creation.