Racheal Lee
Mar 13, 2013

Leo Burnett launches institute to help brands better understand human behaviour

SINGAPORE - Agency network Leo Burnett has launched its Institute of Behaviour in Singapore, based on the belief that understanding people's behaviour is the key to the future of communication.

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Leo Burnett launches Institute of Bahaviour

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Kelvin Wong, executive director, professional services at Singapore Economic Development Board

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Jarek Ziebinski, president of Leo Burnett Asia-Pacific

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Saurabh Varma, chief strategy officer at Leo Burnett Asia-Pacific

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Joseph Baladi, head of consulting at Leo Burnett Institute of Behaviour

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Carol Foley, lead designer: quantitative at Leo Burnett

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From left: Wong; Ziebinski; Varma; Karen Green, lead designer: qualitative at Leo Burnett; Carol Foley, lead designer: quantitative at Leo Burnett; Manjit Singh, chief financial officer at Leo Burnett Asia Pacific; Michael Peters, lead business architect at Leo Burnett Worldwide; and Baladi

Based in Singapore with an Asia-wide remit, the institute was conceptualised and created by Leo Burnett Asia-Pacific, with the potential to be rolled out in strategic hubs globally.

The institute taps into Leo Burnett’s quantitative and qualitative tools, which include ‘What If Mapping’ that reinvigorates brands by reimagining product categories, as well as ‘HumanKind Quotient’ that maximises brand and shareholder value through the HumanKind approach.

Saurabh Varma, chief strategy officer at Leo Burnett Asia-Pacific, will oversee the institute, while Joseph Baladi, the author of The Brutal Truth About Asian Branding, has been named to head up the consulting unit. The search for the heads of the research and innovation divisions is currently underway.

Varma noted that the Institute of Behaviour supplements Leo Burnett’s existing capabilities in advertising and marketing with competencies across brand consultancy, research and innovation for clients’ brand building efforts.

“The other unique advantage [the institute] has is its ability to execute the strategy via its advertising agency arm, bridging the gap where brand consultancy and execution of strategies commonly fall flat,” he said.

He added that a plan is also in place to build a new team of analysts and consultants to help support the institute's vision.

Food and health supplements enterprise Cerebos Pacific is the unit's founding client. Pauline Png, vice-president of regional strategic marketing at Cerebos Pacific, noted that using cultural fuels and tensions to define the purpose of its brands is something it is excited about. “We look forward to using the insights to provide greater meaning to our brands and consumers,” she added.

A regional industry expert said that while it is exciting to see the launch of a new service related to consumer insights and brand image, it remains to be seen how the services the Leo Burnett Institute of Behaviour offers will differ from those provided by existing brand consultants.

"For me, it is the same thing as what other brand consultancy firms are doing, and it is not anything particularly new," the source, who requested anonymity, said. "Agencies have been looking to do this [consumer behaviour related services] because consumers are now commercially fragmented."

Jarek Ziebinski, president at Leo Burnett Asia-Pacific, noted that the industry sees the shift of  control over brands from marketers to people who are empowered by technology.

“In our business, there is a lot of focus on digital, which is necessary, but we must also remember it is ultimately people and their behaviour that are at the core of these changes,” he added. “We see the understanding of people’s behaviour as the way forward for brand communication, and the institute  underscores our commitment to help brands arrive at contemporary brand-building solutions.”

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