Culture Hacking


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Culture Hacking starts with the recognition of intelligence in cultural codes. Although they may not always live as clean quantitative figures, it is time to think of cultural codes in congruence with Big Data. It’s about seeing the opportunity, through cultural understanding, to create work that affects individuals with greater potency and resonates with scale. Marketers should design innovative culture hacking initiatives on their own terms and look to culture hacking as an investment in brand relevance and sustainability.

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  • Culture is a vague thing, we talk about it on abstract terms We acknowledge that it’s important, but don’t often work it into our process in meaningful ways Time to hack it. Break through the walls, look around, extract info + use to our advantage
  • For me, the problem starts here Who’s familiar with this? Lack of depth, confusion this framework can lead to
  • We can hack it. Stanely Pollitt – one of the forefathers of the planning discipline in advertising USE ALL INFORMATION AVAILABLE
  • Good news is that we thrive on information WE collect and analyze all this data related to consumer and brand, but what about culture?
  • First, let’s define it – dissect it to move from abstraction to a model of culture we can understand. People create things/symbols and put them out in the world. Source: Wikipedia
  • Here’s the hack – there’s information encoded in culture. That info can lead us to great ideas. We’ve got the good ideas covered. Great ideas resonate on something that’s universally human, and something that’s universally human must also live amongst the masses, in the culture Source 1: Rei Inamoto Source 2:
  • He talks about a cycles of truths, feeding them back to the people. We need to identify several spheres of truth, and feed them back in a way that ’ s in line with the brand promise. How does the brand fit into the story of our lives?
  • Let’s get to the application of this
  • Culture is not uniform thing – many constituent parts Butterfly metaphor – things, look nice, flying through the air. We can catalog them. Fashion trend, economic shift…
  • What do we do once we collect them? Maybe we can put them into this framework. In a world where something is true…
  • The good news is that we can identify those somethings.. Brand is car Consumer is person we’re going to meet Culture is the road
  • Source: The New York Times, November 2011 -
  • Cultural information isn’t all qualitative. We have data to look at… Source: The New York Times, April 2012 -
  • How can we predict the future? What will the next generation be into? (early 70’s, bohemian, hippy culture/fashion, music festivals) Source: The New Yorker, April 2012 -
  • Make infinity comprehensible…to do list is mini milestone, finish lines Mom may have a shopping list in her notebook/smartphone, but maybe she also has a list of her life goals? Source: Umberto Eco -
  • Food is now interesting when it’s artisinal Record store: physical experience, artwork Source: New York Times, May 2012 -
  • What does this mean for how we think about social – do we need to give consumers a vacation? Source: Newsweek Magazine, July 2012 -
  • Culture Hacking

    1. 1. Culture
 Marc Geffen @marc_it 1

    2. 2. this is quite cryptic. Consumer Culture Brand 2

    3. 3. we can hack it and make it useful...Insights
 "The account planner is that member of the agencys team who is the expert, through background, training, experience, and attitudes, at working with information and getting it used – not just marketing research but all the information available to help solve a clients advertising problems. - Stanley Pollitt 3

    4. 4. we thrive on information
 Demographics Digital behavior Consumer Consumer Journey Site/search analytics ? Culture Brand Sales data Brand history (but maybe we re missing something) 

    5. 5. ok, let s define culture
 Culture emerged as a concept…encompassing all human phenomena that are not purely results of human genetics… …it most commonly refers to the universal human capacity toclassify and encode experiences symbolically and communicate symbolically encoded experiences socially 5

    6. 6. Information
encoded in Culture
 can spark great ideas
 Good ideas are contextually relevant. Great ideas are universally human.make things for the masses but talk to the individual 6

    7. 7. a word from the professor
“ ‘My specialty is cultural anthropology,’ the professor said…‘One aim of my field is to relativize the imagespossessed by individuals, discover in these images the factors universal to all human beings, and feed these universal truths back to those same individuals. As a result of this process, people might be able to belong to something even as they maintain their autonomy.’ ” - Haruki Murakami, 1Q84 7

    8. 8. find an intersection of truth
 Human truth ConsumerCultural truth Culture Brand Brand Promise How does the brand fit into the story of our lives? 8

    9. 9. how can we make Culture
a key ingredient in our work? 9

    10. 10. start collecting & experimenting... to create a cultural filter 10

    11. 11. In
 XX ?where __________ is truethe big disruptive/aligning thought is _______what this means is that __________this could impact brand __________ becausewe could test this by__________. 11

    12. 12. culture is tough to navigate
 ?but there are clues along the way: Cool hunting Trend spotting Meme tracking Patterns/Movements 12

    13. 13. some thought-starters... Culture 13

    14. 14. Culture
is generational 14

    15. 15. meet generation
sell Today s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement …it s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration — music, food, good works — is expressed in those terms. Our culture hero is not the artist or reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur. Autonomy, adventure, imagination…The characteristic art form of our age may be the business plan. 15

    16. 16. culture yields data

    17. 17. what Mad
can teach us The Golden Forty-Year Rule. The prime site of nostalgia is always whatever happened, or is thought to have happened, in the decade between forty-fifty years past. 40s/80s 50s/90s What drives the cycle…though pop culture is most often performed by the young, are the directors and programmers—the suits who control and create…they are and always have been, largely forty-somethings. Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love 17

    18. 18. In
 XXwhere __________________ is truethe big disruptive/aligning thought is_______what this means is that __________this could impact brand __________ becausewe could test this by__________. 18

    19. 19. Culture
is functional 19

    20. 20. lists are universally human
 The list is the origin of culture. It s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity?... the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right. - Umberto Eco 20

    21. 21. Culture
is experiential 21

    22. 22. without a story, a taco is a taco The food vendors are like artists…You re eating, but also meeting the people who are creating the culture… it has a mentality of having gotten there first, being the influencer in your group. If you have an Instagram account, you feel you can say something was delicious… I used to spend five hours in a record store looking for albums…Now everything s online. But I can t find artisanal sausage online and eat it right away. Maybe food markets are the vintage record shops of 2012… 22

    23. 23. Culture
is psychological 23

    24. 24. thoughts on the digital mindset
 The current incarnation of the Internet - portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive - may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more anxious, prone to obsessive- compulsive and attention-deficit disorders…Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts… One idea is that online life is akin to life in the biggest city…no less mentally real - and taxing - than New York or Hong Kong. The data clearly support the view that someone who lives in a big city is at higher risk of psychosis…if the Internet is a kind of imaginary city, it might have some of the same psychological impact. 24

    25. 25. takeaways

    26. 26. Cultural
is powerful...
XX Inject a stronger cultural point of view into work, the next step: from insights and strategy to content creation. the challenge: Don’t be clever, be useful -Jon Steel on Planning Elevate thinking from tactical wins to the opportunity: BIG ideas that resonate on truth 26

    27. 27. the opportunity:brands become icons when they respond to a particular moment in time -Douglas Holt, How Brands Become Icons 27

    28. 28. THANK

    29. 29. •  Slide 5: Wikipedia•  Slide 6: tweet from @reiinamoto Sources•  Slide 15: The New York Times, November 2011 - h-p://‐entrepreneurial‐ genera5on.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
•  Slide 16: The New York Times, April 2012 - h-p://‐years‐of‐ kickstarter‐projects.html?src=tp
•  Slide 17: The New Yorker, April 2012 - h-p://
•  Slide 20: Brainpickings, December 2011 - h-p://‐eco‐on‐lists/
•  Slide 22: New York Times, May 2012 - h-p://‐new‐york‐dining‐the‐appeal‐of‐ exclusive‐and‐ar5sanal.html?_r=3
•  Slide 24: Newsweek Magazine, July 2012 - h-p://‐the‐internet‐making‐us‐ crazy‐what‐the‐new‐research‐says.html