ANA 2008

BBDO's Robertson Riffs on Rituals at ANA Confab

Research on Consumer Behavior Turns Up Quirky, Useful Insights

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ORLANDO, Fla. ( -- In a light (and lightly scripted) speech before the Association of National Advertisers' annual meeting today, BBDO Worldwide President-CEO Andrew Robertson revealed some findings of a global study on rituals -- and revealed some of his own in the process.
Andrew Robertson
Andrew Robertson Credit: Art Beaulieu

Using clips from movies like "All That Jazz," "Risky Business" and "Saturday Night Fever" to tell his story, Mr. Robertson demonstrated how the careful observance of morning and evening rituals can provide marketing insights and fodder for growth. The BBDO study he was discussing looked at 28 different countries and involved interviews with more than 6,000 consumers.

Change your perspective
The overarching lesson, as Mr. Robertson had it, was that if you "look at consumer behavior from different perspectives, not just from your brand category, you'll find opportunities for growth."

More specifically, he discussed the findings related to morning rituals, which, he said, is akin to "preparing for battle." It's a time of day when consumers are quite particular about consistency not only with their practices but with the brands they use. Some 79% have a set of morning rituals, with the Chinese, at 96%, being the most ritualistic and Canadians, at 64%, being the least. In all, 75% of respondents said they're irritated if the brands they're accustomed to aren't available.

Mr. Robertson also called attention to findings on evening rituals. One of the more interesting ones was the observation that 86% of Americans polled bring a glass of water to bed, but less than half actually drink from it.

Timing the sales pitch
As far as how the research can apply to brands, Mr. Robertson said that insight into pre-sex rituals helped the agency realize that during this period people are more open to indulgences, knowledge that helped inform the marketing of British potato chip brand Walker's Sensations. For Bayer aspirin, he said, it might make sense to urge people to take an aspirin at night, before bed, when consumers are thinking about building up defenses, rather than in the morning with vitamins.

Mr. Robertson kicked off his speech with a quick, humorous romp through some of his own morning rituals, which included a complaint about his inability to read travel-sized shampoo bottles in the shower without the aid of his eyeglasses.
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