Finding an Australian cultural context for Wrigley's Extra Gum global stategy.

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video ethnography explores readiness rituals 


Mars Brands globally shifted the Wrigley's Extra Gum positioning from a focus on a functional space: freshening and oral care after food, to a space that’s more emotive: readiness to make the most of your moment, to be at your best, to make it your 'Time to Shine'. This global creative idea, with a strong focus on the pay off spanning both big moments and small moments, was expressed in TVCs from other markets.

In Australia the Wrigley's Extra Gum team at Mars Brands and their agency Clemenger BBDO wondered if a focus on those small opportunities that form the fabric of everyday life might be better suited to the Australian consumer. They wondered if this idea was about ‘readiness’; that personal feeling, the quiet inner confidence of - "I’ve got this" - shown through a smile rather than an outward display.

Although the Wrigley's Extra Gum benefit - a feeling of readiness to be at your best - is well-defined, there was a real opportunity to better understand how it actually plays out, and is experienced in people’s lives.

So Clemenger Agency asked us to conduct ethnographic research in an effort to gauge how well the global ‘Time to Shine’ strategy fit the Australian sensibility and how it expressed as authentic behaviour, as real-life readiness rituals. The better the team could empathetically understand how real people experience these moments, and what individuals’ readiness rituals are like, the more opportunity there would be to move past stereotypical expressions of the idea to something with real human truth on which an Australian campaign could hinge.

The findings were rich with unexpected behaviour. 

We met with a small range of people but from all walks of life and in different parts of the city to explore readiness rituals.

Careful recruitment is important with a project of this kind. Extra consideration is needed to find the small sample required, selecting the best candidates from a range of life stage and gender.

We needed to explore different expressions of readiness, to add dimension to the idea, and how the need for a sense of readiness plays out in different situations and for different people. We needed to understand how different people approach getting ready. We needed to bring to life everyday moments and challenges when people want to be at their best, how people feel, what affects how ready they feel and how they prepare.

We needed to explore the role for gum in this dynamic, aside from the functional benefit of freshening, we needed to understand what role gum plays, the cultural meanings of gum and how might these support or undercut the idea of readiness.

So we used video ethnography for it's strength as a powerful visual communicator and it's ability to create understanding by getting into the mindset of the participant. 

We conducted deep immersion interviews on two separate occasions filmed in-context. We filmed our participants in home, out and about, getting ready and also just doing day to day stuff alone and with friends. We used a participatory method participant auto-ethnography whereby our participants filmed themselves getting ready, this collaborative approach adds a further dimension to participant behaviour findings.

We found a fascinating diversity of attitudes and approaches but even more fascinating were the ways in which people’s behaviour were similar. When faced with a big upcoming event needing a high level of organisation and preparation, the inner west film maker guy with ADHD and the student teacher woman from Rooty Hill both loved to change the bed sheets. They were compelled to change the sheets, it made them feel prepared, refreshed, on top of things and ready to face the challenge. Ethnography provides rich insights into how people make sense of their world and how they incorporate rituals into their lives, some rituals are large and public while others are small and private. Our behavioural observation videos helped stakeholders to really understand our participants language of behaviour. 

The project was peppered with fascinating anecdotal evidence that together formed a cohesive picture and supplied Clemenger BBDO with a lasting visual research resource. The ethnographic customer persona films enabled high stakeholder engagement and empathy. 

We were able to form a comprehensive map of people’s process behaviour around readiness and gum’s potential within that. We identified and analysed key themes around readiness phases over time and the distinct rituals, behaviours and functions with physical, practical, emotional and symbolic significance.

We developed a framework for thinking about the change in attitudes for people along the readiness phases timeline and a model for how participants express both internal/mental behaviours and external/physical behaviours. Our findings evidence films enabled deep stakeholder understanding of the model.

We shared learnings about the role of gum within each element of the model to understand the role for gum in ‘Time to Shine’ moments.