Queen Of Pop Checks Herself

The Telegraph: They have been used to sell everything from washing powder to New Labour. But now it seems that even Madonna has woken up to the power of focus groups.
The most successful female artist in chart history has chosen songs for her next album after secretly trying them out on nightclubbers.
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The tunes, with her distinctive vocals removed, were played in clubs from Liverpool to Ibiza throughout June. The reaction of the crowds were filmed and used by the 47-year-old mother of two to determine the final track listing for Confessions On A Dancefloor, her 10th studio album.
The idea of Madonna seeking affirmation for her work before it has been released has surprised many in the worlds of advertising and music. After all, she has sold more than 175 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide.
Claire Beale, the editor of Campaign magazine, said the research could be seen as a crisis of confidence for someone normally known for their business acumen.
“This is a new one on me,” she said. “In the advertising world, creative people tend to distrust focus groups precisely because they can undermine originality and bring everything down to the lowest common denominator.
“Having said that, people in the advertising industry are becoming increasingly reliant on them because there is a growing lack of confidence about what people want.
“Madonna is obviously running her material past a very niche audience rather than a focus group. But it still suggests she feels a need for endorsement. Like a lot of people who work in advertising she is far older than her target audience. She may feel this is a useful way of reconnecting with a younger generation.”

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.