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Marie Putorti, Vice President, Associate Research Director, BBDO/NY
Wednesday, December 5, 2001, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EST

<mobbdo> Hi everyone, are there any special questions?
<mobbdo> Perhaps it will help if I introduce myself. My name is Marie Putorti and I'm a Trend Analyst at BBDO
<mobbdo> My primary responsibility here is to act as an early warning system for our clients and partners all over the world.

<mobbdo> I do this by studying the marketplace in terms of major changes, and in close observation of various demographic cohorts
<rengelt> Marie, do you see the events of 9/11 having an effect globally or primarily in New York?
<rengelt> If so, what sort of effects?
<mobbdo> I believe that the 9/11 effect is and will continue to be felt globally, and distance will act as a modifier... with the further away one is being the determinant of the impact of the disaster.
<rengelt> A ripple effect of sorts?
<rengelt> As it pertains to advertising, do you see clients spending more/less/same in terms of budget dollars?
<mobbdo> The effects are quite clear right now in terms of emphasis on self and family and job security.... on financial concerns and concerns for our safety. I don't believe that we will continue with the 'sky is falling' syndrome for a great deal longer, but I do believe the economic concerns and even fears of the individual will disappear any too soon.
<mobbdo> I think that initially everyone is pulling back, but that as in previous economic crises, it becomes obvious soon enough that spending levels should remain the same if not actually increasing. Sort of to make up for lost time, and to avoid being overrun in the marketplace.
<stefanie> Speaking from a Canadian perspective, I can say that there is a global impact. It seems to be felt quite differently, however.
<rengelt> Do you see anyone (or certain sectors) attempting to take advantage of the situation or is this still a time for "respect and mourning"?
<mobbdo> That's hard .... there will always be individuals, companies, etc., who will play the cards they're dealt to their best advantage. But we have been told, or rather implored, to continue with our lives as 'usual' and so, returning to our capitalist nature is really not anti-respect and mourning, but rather it can be looked at as continuing on....
<stefanie> Sorry, phone call interruption. How do you see this effecting client / agency relationships? i.e. Will there be more client input to protect sensitivities?
<mobbdo> Stefanie - I really don't know the answer to this... each of our clients is always aware of the message being sent out, I don't think this is going to change and I believe also, that their trust of the agency is still in place.
<stefanie> Good to hear. The change in messaging that occurred in respect to 9/11 saw quite a shift from more "liberal" youth-oriented to more "conservative" assurance-oriented. Do you see this swinging all the way back eventually?
<mobbdo> The pendulum never swings back all the way. We return to more conservative and traditional values after each swing to more liberal values, but the return trip never goes full scale. What often happens is that the value's themselves are altered. So that if we go back to 'tradition' it is a new manifestation of tradition.
<mobbdo> In the early 90s we saw a return to 'traditional values' family becoming more important... however, looked at closer, the very definition of family had radically changed from that definition in the 50s.
<mobbdo> Generation Y is our youngest cohort to date. The 9/11 event will most certainly affect their view of life in the future.
<mobbdo> Do you know any teens who are overly affected by this?
<rengelt> In what way do you suppose they'd be affected?
<stefanie> Good point. This was quite an abrupt change though. Do you think we will take baby steps back?
<shannon> What type of information do you analyze before advising your clients and worldwide companies of changing trends?
<mobbdo> Shannon -- now for your question. I am constantly reviewing consumer and trade publications, primary research done by our company, syndicated research which we purchase or which is published, and through personal observation. Together these sources provide the basis of my observations.
<mobbdo> Stefanie - I really don't know. This one -- this event -- is so out of the realm of my experience (I was too young for Pearl Harbor)... I think we all were... so here only time will tell.
<stefanie> Again good point. I guess the only fair question to ask is how you are currently advising your clients on their communications?
<mobbdo> As I said before Stefanie, it's really an individual by individual case study, with the circumstances different for every product and service category.
<mobbdo> Would anyone like to touch on how the 9/11 incident has affected their lives, especially in terms of educational ambitions,
<mobbdo> financial ambitions, future plans, etc.
<mobbdo> An observation I would like to share while waiting for your next question.
<mobbdo> I was in a shopping mall this weekend.... it was crowded, noisy, and for the most part cheerful. What does that say to you?
<aef_man> The show must go on.
<stefanie> The spirit is resilient.
<mobbdo> My take on it -- I think we're all trying really hard to get back what we lost on 9/11
<stefanie> regaining ownership?
<mobbdo> I think you're both right -- what choice do we have.
<mobbdo> I like that regaining ownership stefanie - Ii think you're right.
<linda> What trends do you see for the Millenials (ages 6-12)?
<mobbdo> The trends for 6-12 are difficult to predict right now. To date they have been a very protected, and secure group. Probably our most secure cohort since the baby boom - after all their parents are boomers. And I think that the next couple of
<mobbdo> months, to six months, to a year, will be needed to determine the level of stress these young people will eventually feel.
<ndavis361> Based on your research, do you think there will be a long term behavioral change for US travel? Or is what we are seeing only a temporary effect?
<stefanie> They will take their reaction from the Baby Boomers, no? So how do you think they are reacting?
<mobbdo> If the stress level remains high, we will probably see a reenactment of the boomer parent generation who grew up with bomb shelters and early warning systems, and in-school exercises on what to do when the bomb comes.
<stefanie> Interesting
<sharon> I am logging on late, so you might have already covered this topic, but how do you think 9/11 has affected college students...another "protected & sheltered" group until this event took place?
<mobbdo> n davis -- I think we're traveling a lot, and that as soon as the whistle blows (mentally an all clear whistle) we will hit the road again.
<ndavis361> any thoughts on how long that might take?
<mobbdo> I think older boomers are reacting cautiously... but you have to remember this is the group that changed the world... they
<mobbdo> still believe it's all about them, and they're worried about their retirement, about child care, about funding education, about long term medical health care, etc. etc., but they're still going to go out and buy that new ......
<mobbdo> n davis - I have no idea.... it will most likely take a few more months with no disasters....
<mobbdo> Sharon: I can't help but think back to the Vietnam protests.... the campuses were in an uproar. I'm not seeing much of that right now.... I think that until something like a draft comes along, students for the most part are protected and sheltered, and you know what, I think that is as it should be.... you are our future.
<mobbdo> How do you feel about it?
<mobbdo> Some other concerns right now that are being talked about in the press
<mobbdo> The - is this all there is syndrome.
<mobbdo> People, especially older people, are beginning to look more seriously at their lives, their jobs, etc., and evaluating
<mobbdo> each in light of our new lack of security, and vulnerability
<mobbdo> Many are thinking of shifting careers.
<mobbdo> Churches are becoming more crowded
<stefanie> I've seen an increase in the mention of quarter-live crises as well. Do you think Advertising is an instigator of this disillusionment?
<stefanie> or a salve?
<Shannon> A friend of mine told me that at her school there was an antiwar poster asking, Why should we fight Afghanistan? Someone wrote on the poster, "Because my grandfather died in those towers..." I am actually a recent grad, just moved to New York, south of the WTC, and when I couldn't get home for almost two weeks, it was my connections to the University of California, Santa Cruz that gave me options of places to stay... The events have definitely changed me,
<mobbdo> Stefanie - I don't think advertising instigates disillusionment. It does give us the information we need to fight it.
<rengelt> How does advertising give us the info to fight disillusionment?
<mobbdo> Thank you Shannon.... the events have changed a lot of us and your comment reinforces my observations of another trend which is a community revival. Individuals are reaching out more to friends and family, but also showing new concerns for those in their 'communities' and community can be neighborhoods, peer groups, etc.
<mobbdo> Rengelt: Advertising provides information about products, about services, about the companies we deal with, about current events, etc. Information comes from a lot of places, I'm not saying it only comes from advertising, but advertising certainly provides plenty of information to enable us to make rational decisions and I believe rationale will always displace disillusionment.
<rengelt> This question is on consumer spending trends and how they've been effected. We've all seen the patriotic trends as of late, but is there any sense you get on how "the industry" as a whole is trying to position advertising to create a consumer willingness to spend again?
<mobbdo> Look at the advertising being done for New York. It's fabulous.... I work on sixth avenue, we're overrun by tourists.... they're happy being in New York... advertising probably got them here.
<mobbdo> Consumers are cautious about spending to some degree. They're spending more on small rewards and things to make life fun and easier, and worth living... and maybe postponing certain larger expenditures, where possible, for the short term. There is a fear out there, and well justified, that the economy is in crisis... more than that, white collar America is seeing layoffs, and benefit cuts, and vacation curbs, etc.... and advertising as well as government.
<stefanie> Is this why promotions, and promotional events are so prevalent right now? i.e. 0% financing...
<mobbdo> Yep
<rengelt> But advertising is about selling an idealized image; the advertising for New York is selling the energy, lifestyle, excitement of New York -- not the information/rationality of oh it's safe to go back, which subway lines are running. Disillusionment comes when the image that advertising is selling is not realized.
<mobbdo> Yep - you're right... but I don't believe there is any disillusionment in the New York lifestyle right now....
<stefanie> How do consumers see it? Do they blame advertising for their not comparing? Do they look to advertising as a means of achieving more?
<mobbdo> We're all a little put out when we see armed guards at the midtown tunnel, but New York is still a wonderful town... and the ads don't tell us it's safe... when was it ever safe?
<stefanie> good point!
<mobbdo> Stefanie - I only see advertising as a means to understanding. When we see products, within lifestyles, if that's a lifestyle we aspire too... we've just been given the map on how to get there. I believe that information is the most powerful tool in the consumer's hands, and our industry provides that...
<mobbdo> yes it's made pretty, and I don't think for one minute that the consumer would stop to learn what the ad is teaching, if it weren't.
<stefanie> But aren't consumers becoming more wary... asking more questions?
<mobbdo> Have been for many years...
<mobbdo> You know - consumers are in the marketplace seeking value. Value has come to mean what's in it for me.
<stefanie> How does the influx of information at their fingertips change the way advertising talks to consumers?
<mobbdo> They can learn how the product suits their lives, their needs, etc., only through advertising, or actual ownership of the product or use of the service.
<mobbdo> Stefanie -- it keeps us honest!
<stefanie> Thank you Marie. This has been quite enlightening.
<mobbdo> Thank you - it has been really fun to share with you guys!
<moderator> Thank you everyone for joining today's discussion. Please come again.

 

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