ESOMAR Awards : Betcha won’t win just once !

By Richard Bordenave

My first encounter with ESOMAR awards was at the 2010 ESOMAR Congress – Innovate 2010, I was just entering the research world after a marketing career on the client’s side. I was so excited by the behavioural insights and opportunities we unveiled with my client (Michel Ten Donkelaar, Kraft-Mondelez), that we wanted to share our discoveries with the whole industry. At that time, the term “behavioural economics” wasn’t popular, but we were already convinced at INVIVO – BVA that some of the traditional declarative methods were ill-suited to predict properly consumer decision-making in “real life”.

We challenged some existing practices introducing behavioural knowledge and Bingo! : our piece of work “Innovation : return to reality” was nominated for ESOMAR Excellence Award – Best Paper, Innovate 2010! A very rewarding moment, which even lead INVIVO-BVA to convert “real-life thinking” into its corporate baseline.

Updating our academic sources to substantiate this paper, at BVA we also started exploring deeper the fast-growing corpus of insights from neuro and behavioural sciences. What we discovered along the way inspired us to develop new methodologies, like our Nudgelab® and we also created the BVA Nudge-unit. Again, the real-life results obtained in 2013 with our Nudge process for the French Government (SGMAP, DGFIP) motivated us for submitting a new paper together: “Nudge Me Tender”. As it is actually a lot harder to stand-out at the annual Congress with there being more competing papers, we submitted ours with moderate ambitions. Gaining awareness and networking would be a good start. Demonstrating how efficient solutions, or ‘nudges’, can be created from deeper user understanding, creativity techniques, and research know-how was our main goal, and winning was not at the agenda. So when the “Best Case History” awards got announced in the main room, Eric Singler, Etienne Bressoud, Françoise Waintrop and myself were drinking at the bar, and Eric had to run into the plenary to collect the trophy! Similar scenario occurred a year after, when our paper was awarded a second time, with the “Best Paper Overall 2014-2015” : we couldn’t attend, but fortunately Pascal Gaudin, our BVA CEO was there to collect the prize. Lesson learnt: even when you don’t expect to make a difference, you might!

Pride from achievement, and recognition from peers has been an extraordinary motivator to push the BVA nudge-unit to a higher level.  Private clients, and brands eager to discover the power of ‘nudge’ urged us to adapt the methodology, turning it into a game-changer for many business issues. Since then, Eric Singler has released his second book“Green Nudge” (after “Nudge Marketing”) and together with engaged clients and academic partners we founded an NGO to promote the use of ‘nudge’ for non-profit issues. The NudgeLab has now become our signature service in many sectors: see video and we can say now looking into the rear-mirror that the ESOMAR Awards have significantly contributed to this success story!

Richard Bordenave is DGA for Marketing and Innovation and Nudge-unit Co-Director at Groupe BVA