Poll Cats: MRIA down the tubes

You can always tell a market researcher in the crowd because the crowd stands out.
–Old pollster joke

So good riddance to the MRIA (Market Research and Intelligence Association), which closed its doors this week after 14 years of extracting usurious members’ fees in exchange for, er, not much.

Apparently, the organization that represented public opinion pollsters and market researchers in Canada, simply ran out of other people’s money.

MRIA and their predecessors PMRS (Professional Market Research Society) and CAMRO (Canadian Association of Market Research Organization) have been burning through dough every year since 1983. Resentful member firms claimed their fees were going to overpaid staff, useless golf tournaments and expensive tables at Public Policy Forum dinners. As membership dwindled, so did income to support the lavish spending.

Desperate to retain members, the MRIA dropped its annual Gold Seal award for top firm, and began to admit hacks like Nick Kouvalis and Quito Maggi. The Gold Seal prize required an extensive audit, done onsite by a veteran market researcher. Alas, many member firms had trouble with it, so to maximize membership, the “audit” became a simple questionnaire filled out by the applicant. (“Check, of course we do that.”)  Completely useless, as anyone could self-report their brilliance, and did.

Where MRIA revealed itself to be especially hopeless came with the investigation and admonishment of the dubious achievements of the aforementioned Kouvalis and Maggi, who took advantage of the lack of self-regulation in the industry to hang up their shingles—“Here Be Pollsters!”

A former Maggi employer (who fired the Grift for inventing voter contact data for the Ontario Liberals) tells Frank that Maggi claimed he would become a pollster because MRIA had no powers to stop him.

The Grift eventually joined MRIA, then got suspended for shit-talking his competitors/colleagues at Illumina Research Partners.

You can’t suspend us, we quit, replied Quito, dismissing the MRIA, as a voluntary industry association, an unaccountable ‘polling police’ under the effective control of board members from Ipsos (Andrew Cochrane and Amy Charles squat in several positions).

MRIA’s lobbying efforts were also laughable.  Some years ago, Corrections Canada allowed inmates to earn a few dollars doing market research interviews by phone.

The MRIA whinged that this was unfair competition, since the inmates were working for cigarette money, while professional interviewers needed a decent salary and benefits.   MRIA recruited four firms to survey Canadians on whether they saw this practice as unfair.  Then they sent the results to Corrections Canada.

The result? Nada, until a pollster took matters into his own hands and asked select media hacks: “Would you want Paul Bernardo phoning your teenage daughter at home?”

Corrections Canada soon exited the polling biz, but left behind this final riposte: “You can tell the difference between a pollster and a market researcher by talking to them.  The market researcher will be staring at his shoes. The pollster will be staring at your shoes.”



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5 comments on “Poll Cats: MRIA down the tubes
  1. daveS says:

    And was this predicted 13 years ago, 19 times out of 20, with a 60% probability?

  2. daveS says:

    “Demise of polling industry association leaves Calgary election polling review in limbo: Marketing Research and Intelligence Association was looking at Mainstreet polls that were far off base.”
    CBC News · Posted: Jul 31, 2018 1:36 PM MT | Last Updated: August 1 2018

  3. OJM says:

    Next up…Canadian Union of Elvis Impersonators say final “thank yuh, thank yuh very much”.

  4. daveS says:

    “Polling and the 2017 Calgary mayoral election” (Aussi Français (French))
    August 2018 issue of the magazine IRPP Policy Options

    “How did polling in the 2017 Calgary mayoralty election go so badly wrong? These authors made up a panel that conducted an independent review of what happened.”
    by Christopher Adams, Paul Adams, David Zussman, August 8, 2018

    ” In January 2018, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA), which was the industry association representing the public opinion industry, appointed a panel consisting of the three of us — all academics with experience working in the industry — to conduct an independent review of what went wrong in Calgary and to make recommendations for the future….
    We prepared a substantial report and submitted it in May 2018, expecting it to be released in time for the organization’s annual meeting in Vancouver in June. We were frankly mystified that it was not. Subsequently, in late July, the MRIA announced that it was disbanding because of financial issues. As panel members, we decided that [our gumpf and claims to academia required releasing this Gumpf ]….

    Meanwhile, @EMI_Research tweets: Aug 7
    More than 50 researchers in Canada have formed a “Transition Taskforce” to help guide the industry through the establishment of a new professional organization after #MRIA shutdown last week. bit.ly/2noU5a5 #mrx

    Desperate measures to get the “Gold” certificates back, and a favourable view of incompetent pollsters and win back clients saying that their back-of-the-envelope guesses and walking around Kensington Market are both CHEAPER and MORE ACCURATE that over-paid so-called “pollsters”

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