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CULTURAL
TENSION
STRATEGY
Cultural Selling Proposition (CSP)

Brand planning 2.0 – Culture & Movement

By Nigel Rahimpour
GIANT CREDITS TO:
Douglas Holt & Douglas Cameron 

for their inspiring work!
Conventional marketing ignores the wider context of culture,
although it is becoming increasingly important for success. 
...
"We need to
reinvent the way
we market to
consumers. We
need a new
model.”

A.G. Lafley, 
Big Kahuna 
at P&G
“Marketing theory
is still largely based
on the days when
P&G brands
dominated America. 

If they are
making more
noise, i...
Connect the brand with the consumer
THE CURRENT MODEL
The product

- Delivers a functional benefit

- Delivers an emotional...
What’s wrong 
with that?
IT’S BASED ON FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS
REASON #1
“Tough on stains”
Bears no long term sustainability

1.  Product differentiators get quickly copied
2.  People are less interested in functi...
IT’S BASED ON EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
REASON #2
i.e. ATTRACTION
Many brands talk about the same emotion – 
even outside the category 
(i.e. “Attraction” used by cars, motorbikes, clothin...
What does all of 
this mean?
THE OLD MODEL HAS TURNED
BRANDS INTO COMMODITIES
Invites private label brands to participate
The war of the benefits makes people believe
that most brands are the same
THE EMOTIONAL BENEFIT PITFALL
CONSUMER APATHY IS...
“When you act like a commodity,
you’ll get treated like one!” 

Kevin Roberts, Big Kahuna at Saatchi & Saatchi 
THE EMOTIO...
WHY IS THERE A
SEA OF
SAMENESS?
BECAUSE THE OLD MODEL IS SOLELY
ROOTED IN PSYCHOLOGY
THE OLD MODEL DISREGARDS THE
WIDER CONTEXT
Does not look at people & brands through a societal lens	
  
Out-dated
But stil...
IGNORES CULTURE, POLITICS &
ECONOMICS
BECAUSE MARKETING LIKES TO SIMPLIFY
It gets dirty when you consider history,
politics, culture and economics
IF YOU
LIMIT YOUR
VISION… 

YOU
CONFINE
YOUR
ACTIONS!
THE OLD MODEL CONFINES BRANDS
TO A VACUUM CALLED “CATEGORY”
Limits brands to the land of faster, 
bigger, smaller, cheaper...
SUCH BRANDS ARE
UNABLE TO TELL A
BIGGER STORY
If you have any!
	
  
SO THE BIG 
QUESTION IS …
SO THE BIG 
IS…
SO THE BIG 
ARE…
HOW DO WE
ENSURE THAT
IT NO LONGER
DEPENDS ON
CREATIVES 
TO CREATE A
CULTURALLY
RELEVANT
STORY?
 What	
  	
  
the	
  fuck?...
HOW DO WE LAY THE STRATEGIC
FOUNDATION FOR BRANDS TO
TELL A BIGGER STORY?
Ideally become…
PART OF POP-CULTURE’S CONVERSATION
… AND TO CREATE INNOVATIONS
BEYOND THE CATEGORY?
PLANNING 2.0
Planning 2.0 

Connect the brand with the CULTURE
Brand
 Culture
Planning 2.0 

Acknowledges the tenets of the old model
-  The product’s functional benefit is…
-  The product’s emotional ...
CULTURAL SELLING PROPOSITION 
Above functional and emotional benefits
USP
CSP
ESP
Cultural selling 
proposition
Emotional s...
WHAT’S A CSP?
CSP (Cultural Selling Proposition) is an
ideology that gives a brand a role in
society, not just the categor...
WHY CARE?
Cultural ideology creates
financial value
FINANCIAL REASON #1: 
Differentiation
Where competition is limited to the product-level, cultural ideology
provides differ...
CASE IN POINT: 
Method
Method places a cultural added value on top of functionality.
The brand operates in culture, not th...
FINANCIAL REASON #2: 
Culture enhances quality perception
When people buy into a brand’s culture, they like to think its
p...
FINANCIAL REASON #3: 
Culture can charge a premium
FINANCIAL REASON #4: 
Culture creates loyalty beyond reason
Cultural brands are anchors of our identity. 
In financially to...
FINANCIAL REASON #5: 
Culture is the more efficient media strategy
Cultural brands don’t chase people, 
they attract them 
...
FINANCIAL REASON #6: 
Culture creates new market space…
Conventional market definition:
‘Computers’	
  
Cultural market defi...
Traditional market
definition:

Based on products
Expanded market
definition:

Based on culture
ESSENTIALLY WE ARE TALKING A...
EVERY BRAND CAN TELL 
A BIGGER STORY

Twitter is more than a social micro-blogging service

The Economist is more than inf...
GREAT!


So how do we put all of 
that into practice?
GREAT!


So how do we make it work?
CULTURAL TENSION
STRATEGY
STEP 1



Identify the cultural opportunity
Traditional market
definition:

Based on products
Expanded market
definition:

Based on culture
KEY QUESTIONS: 

WHAT IDEA O...
Traditional market
definition:

Based on products
Expanded market
definition:

Based on culture
CULTURAL TENSION STRATEGY IS...
Traditional market
definition:

Based on products
Expanded market
definition:

Based on culture
WE WANT IDEAS/MOVEMENTS WITH...
UNDERSTAND THE CULTURAL NORM
Oil is cheap.
Credit is cheap.
The bigger the better.
The car as a living room.
The code for ...
EMERGING CODE: Conspicuous
Cultivation
UNDERSTAND THE EMERGING CODE 
Democratization of Style
	
  
Look for a structural c...
EMERGING CODE: Conspicuous
Cultivation
UNDERSTAND WHAT’S INSIDE 
YOUR BRAND
Stylish British Auto Irreverence
	
  
"
Link
What’s Inside"
Culture & Brand
To Define Your 
Cultural Ideology
Brand
Culture
Consumer
Culture
MERGE
Motoring Fashi...
THIS GIVES YOUR BRAND A ROLE IN
SOCIETY…
LAYING THE SEEDS TO BECOME PART
OF POP CULTURE’S CONVERSATION
LIFTING YOUR BRAND ABOVE THE FRAY
Via a larger and more relevant platform than
solely relying on traditional USPS and ESPS
BUT HOW DO YOU BRING
A CULTURAL IDEOLOGY 
TO LIFE?
STEP 2



Activate your consumer base

Don’t just televise
Use grassroots actions and communications to
create authenticity and value, so that people will
rally around your brand, n...
WHY IS THIS
IMPORTANT?
CULTURE IS SHIFTING
1990s
Digital 
Revolution
Anything goes
As long as you don’t
go to jail
2000s
Consumer
Activism Era
Be...
MEDIA IS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGING
Interruption Age
Few channels
Captive audience
Media monologue
Passive consumption
Partici...
MOVEMENTS ARE SURFACING
Iran
BRANDS ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE
MANY WAYS TO GO ABOUT
A MOVEMENT


Spark.

Lead.

Support.

Piggyback.
	
  
USE GRASSROOTS TOOLS IN A
2.0 WORLD TO SET IT OFF


More authentic.

More credible.

More efficient.
	
  
Remember: The peo...
FIESTA MOVEMENT


Fiesta Movement: 
In 2010, Ford began a grassroots campaign in the U.S. 100
influencers were handed a Fie...
NIKE


Nike’s runner tribe includes over a million people
RED BULL
The classic case: Innovated out of culture. Creates/sponsors
culture. Uses grassroots to stay culturally-relevant...
THE CULTURAL TENSION
STRATEGY APPROACH
COMBINE
Cultural
Ideology
Grassroots
Marketing
Authentic
Movement
Purpose that
people share
Participatory tools
to attract...
1.  Understand	
  the	
  norms	
  in	
  your	
  category	
  
2.  Iden;fy	
  a	
  cultural	
  tension	
  –	
  a	
  movement...
Breakthrough insights often come out of culture, which is
why we can’t limit our search to the category. 

The old tools a...
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Douglas Holt
Douglas Cameron
Alex Bragg
	
  
Nigel Rahimpour
Planner-Guy
nigel.rahimpour@gmail.com
Chic...
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Cultural tension strategy nigel rahimpour

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Published on

A New Brand Strategy For A 2.0 World.

This document focuses on cultural tension strategy and grassroots marketing as tools of implementation in a new media world shaped by consumer activism.

It shows a systematic way to embed culture in the strategic process and demonstrates its financial value.


Published in: Business, News & Politics
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Cultural tension strategy nigel rahimpour

  1. 1.   CULTURAL TENSION STRATEGY Cultural Selling Proposition (CSP) Brand planning 2.0 – Culture & Movement By Nigel Rahimpour
  2. 2. GIANT CREDITS TO: Douglas Holt & Douglas Cameron for their inspiring work!
  3. 3. Conventional marketing ignores the wider context of culture, although it is becoming increasingly important for success. This document focuses on a systematic way to embed culture in the strategic process and its financial value. It looks at cultural tension strategy and grassroots marketing as tools of implementation in a new media world shaped by consumer activism. It’s about brands tapping into culture and succeeding. PREFACE
  4. 4. "We need to reinvent the way we market to consumers. We need a new model.” A.G. Lafley, Big Kahuna at P&G
  5. 5. “Marketing theory is still largely based on the days when P&G brands dominated America. If they are making more noise, it is out of desperation.” The Economist
  6. 6. Connect the brand with the consumer THE CURRENT MODEL The product - Delivers a functional benefit - Delivers an emotional benefit Henceforth, meets the consumer need
  7. 7. What’s wrong with that?
  8. 8. IT’S BASED ON FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS REASON #1 “Tough on stains”
  9. 9. Bears no long term sustainability 1.  Product differentiators get quickly copied 2.  People are less interested in functionalities than companies assume 3.  Often a justification for an instinctually- driven decision THE FUNCTIONAL BENEFIT PITFALL
  10. 10. IT’S BASED ON EMOTIONAL BENEFITS REASON #2 i.e. ATTRACTION
  11. 11. Many brands talk about the same emotion – even outside the category (i.e. “Attraction” used by cars, motorbikes, clothing, etc) Courtesy  of  Jkakuzin   THE EMOTIONAL BENEFIT PITFALL
  12. 12. What does all of this mean?
  13. 13. THE OLD MODEL HAS TURNED BRANDS INTO COMMODITIES Invites private label brands to participate
  14. 14. The war of the benefits makes people believe that most brands are the same THE EMOTIONAL BENEFIT PITFALL CONSUMER APATHY IS THE RESULT
  15. 15. “When you act like a commodity, you’ll get treated like one!” Kevin Roberts, Big Kahuna at Saatchi & Saatchi THE EMOTIONAL BENEFIT PITFALL
  16. 16. WHY IS THERE A SEA OF SAMENESS?
  17. 17. BECAUSE THE OLD MODEL IS SOLELY ROOTED IN PSYCHOLOGY
  18. 18. THE OLD MODEL DISREGARDS THE WIDER CONTEXT Does not look at people & brands through a societal lens   Out-dated But still in use
  19. 19. IGNORES CULTURE, POLITICS & ECONOMICS
  20. 20. BECAUSE MARKETING LIKES TO SIMPLIFY It gets dirty when you consider history, politics, culture and economics
  21. 21. IF YOU LIMIT YOUR VISION… YOU CONFINE YOUR ACTIONS!
  22. 22. THE OLD MODEL CONFINES BRANDS TO A VACUUM CALLED “CATEGORY” Limits brands to the land of faster, bigger, smaller, cheaper
  23. 23. SUCH BRANDS ARE UNABLE TO TELL A BIGGER STORY
  24. 24. If you have any!   SO THE BIG QUESTION IS … SO THE BIG IS… SO THE BIG ARE…
  25. 25. HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT IT NO LONGER DEPENDS ON CREATIVES TO CREATE A CULTURALLY RELEVANT STORY? What     the  fuck? Old Model Positioning Example: The aroma that puts a grin on your face
  26. 26. HOW DO WE LAY THE STRATEGIC FOUNDATION FOR BRANDS TO TELL A BIGGER STORY? Ideally become…
  27. 27. PART OF POP-CULTURE’S CONVERSATION
  28. 28. … AND TO CREATE INNOVATIONS BEYOND THE CATEGORY?
  29. 29. PLANNING 2.0
  30. 30. Planning 2.0 Connect the brand with the CULTURE Brand Culture
  31. 31. Planning 2.0 Acknowledges the tenets of the old model -  The product’s functional benefit is… -  The product’s emotional benefit is … But it places a cultural selling proposition (CSP) at the heart of business
  32. 32. CULTURAL SELLING PROPOSITION Above functional and emotional benefits USP CSP ESP Cultural selling proposition Emotional selling proposition Unique (functional) selling proposition
  33. 33. WHAT’S A CSP? CSP (Cultural Selling Proposition) is an ideology that gives a brand a role in society, not just the category (i.e. Apple’s Facilitating Creativity’)
  34. 34. WHY CARE? Cultural ideology creates financial value
  35. 35. FINANCIAL REASON #1: Differentiation Where competition is limited to the product-level, cultural ideology provides differentiation lifting the brand above the category  
  36. 36. CASE IN POINT: Method Method places a cultural added value on top of functionality. The brand operates in culture, not the category.
  37. 37. FINANCIAL REASON #2: Culture enhances quality perception When people buy into a brand’s culture, they like to think its products are superior, when in fact they are not  
  38. 38. FINANCIAL REASON #3: Culture can charge a premium
  39. 39. FINANCIAL REASON #4: Culture creates loyalty beyond reason Cultural brands are anchors of our identity. In financially tough times, they are the last place where we cut costs
  40. 40. FINANCIAL REASON #5: Culture is the more efficient media strategy Cultural brands don’t chase people, they attract them Wholefoods vs. Jewel Osco Apple vs. Sanyo Virgin vs. BA
  41. 41. FINANCIAL REASON #6: Culture creates new market space… Conventional market definition: ‘Computers’   Cultural market definition: ‘Tools for creative minds’  
  42. 42. Traditional market definition: Based on products Expanded market definition: Based on culture ESSENTIALLY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT Operate in the category  Operate in culture  
  43. 43. EVERY BRAND CAN TELL A BIGGER STORY Twitter is more than a social micro-blogging service The Economist is more than information The iPhone is more than a phone Dove is more than soap These brands stand for facets of our culture: modernity, wisdom, creativity, natural beauty
  44. 44. GREAT! So how do we put all of that into practice? GREAT! So how do we make it work?
  45. 45. CULTURAL TENSION STRATEGY
  46. 46. STEP 1 Identify the cultural opportunity
  47. 47. Traditional market definition: Based on products Expanded market definition: Based on culture KEY QUESTIONS: WHAT IDEA OR MOVEMENT IS RISING IN CULTURE THAT CHALLENGES THE CURRENT SYSTEM? CAN I CONNECT IT WITH MY BRAND?
  48. 48. Traditional market definition: Based on products Expanded market definition: Based on culture CULTURAL TENSION STRATEGY IS ABOUT IDEAS OR MOVEMENTS THAT CHALLENGE THE SYSTEM Dominant Code Emerging Code
  49. 49. Traditional market definition: Based on products Expanded market definition: Based on culture WE WANT IDEAS/MOVEMENTS WITH CRITICAL MASS Indie-Entrepreneurialism Conspicuous Cultivation Experiential travel Tribal Football Peer-to-Peer Open-source Fair-Trade Mixology You can use subcultural and dominant societal codes – especially if the latter is ignored by the category
  50. 50. UNDERSTAND THE CULTURAL NORM Oil is cheap. Credit is cheap. The bigger the better. The car as a living room. The code for the hummer is domination. America is in love with big cars.
  51. 51. EMERGING CODE: Conspicuous Cultivation UNDERSTAND THE EMERGING CODE Democratization of Style   Look for a structural change in culture, not just a fad
  52. 52. EMERGING CODE: Conspicuous Cultivation UNDERSTAND WHAT’S INSIDE YOUR BRAND Stylish British Auto Irreverence  
  53. 53. " Link What’s Inside" Culture & Brand To Define Your Cultural Ideology Brand Culture Consumer Culture MERGE Motoring Fashionista Fun
  54. 54. THIS GIVES YOUR BRAND A ROLE IN SOCIETY… LAYING THE SEEDS TO BECOME PART OF POP CULTURE’S CONVERSATION
  55. 55. LIFTING YOUR BRAND ABOVE THE FRAY Via a larger and more relevant platform than solely relying on traditional USPS and ESPS
  56. 56. BUT HOW DO YOU BRING A CULTURAL IDEOLOGY TO LIFE?
  57. 57. STEP 2 Activate your consumer base Don’t just televise
  58. 58. Use grassroots actions and communications to create authenticity and value, so that people will rally around your brand, not just purchase it START A MOVEMENT
  59. 59. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
  60. 60. CULTURE IS SHIFTING 1990s Digital Revolution Anything goes As long as you don’t go to jail 2000s Consumer Activism Era Belief-Driven Brands need to align with my values
  61. 61. MEDIA IS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGING Interruption Age Few channels Captive audience Media monologue Passive consumption Participation Age Tons of choices Elusive audience Media dialogue User-generated content
  62. 62. MOVEMENTS ARE SURFACING Iran
  63. 63. BRANDS ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE
  64. 64. MANY WAYS TO GO ABOUT A MOVEMENT Spark. Lead. Support. Piggyback.  
  65. 65. USE GRASSROOTS TOOLS IN A 2.0 WORLD TO SET IT OFF More authentic. More credible. More efficient.   Remember: The people are the media
  66. 66. FIESTA MOVEMENT Fiesta Movement: In 2010, Ford began a grassroots campaign in the U.S. 100 influencers were handed a Fiesta and asked to document/share their experience via social media. The campaign spread like wildfire: -  6.5 million YouTube views -  50,000 info requests -  60% pre-launch awareness -  10,000 units sold in the first 6 days For a fraction of the costs of a traditional campaign. Ford finally works with culture, instead of against it  
  67. 67. NIKE Nike’s runner tribe includes over a million people
  68. 68. RED BULL The classic case: Innovated out of culture. Creates/sponsors culture. Uses grassroots to stay culturally-relevant World Domination Red Bull has come a long way: From Thai truckers to the one & only energy drink in a category it created
  69. 69. THE CULTURAL TENSION STRATEGY APPROACH
  70. 70. COMBINE Cultural Ideology Grassroots Marketing Authentic Movement Purpose that people share Participatory tools to attract people Idea/Brand that lives in culture Tools for success in this new era
  71. 71. 1.  Understand  the  norms  in  your  category   2.  Iden;fy  a  cultural  tension  –  a  movement/idea  that  challenges  the  system   and  is  credible  to  link  with  your  brand     3.  Define  your  cultural  ideology  –  a  role  for  your  brand  in  society   4.  Make  highly  targeted  efforts  to  seed  your  ideology  with  influencers   5.  U;lize  grassroots  tools,  ac;ons  and  communica;ons  to  aKract  people,      create/host/connect  with  community  and  spread  the  word     6.  Use  mass  communica;ons  to  magnify  your  ideology  to  the  masses     7.  Use  direct  communica;ons,  tools  and  ac;ons  to  drive  purchase   SEVEN STEPS
  72. 72. Breakthrough insights often come out of culture, which is why we can’t limit our search to the category. The old tools are still valid. But they are not the only. Creating cultural relevance and activation can’t be the default-product of creative people. We need a systematic, strategic way. That’s what this document intended to show.   AFTER THOUGHT
  73. 73. SPECIAL THANKS TO: Douglas Holt Douglas Cameron Alex Bragg   Nigel Rahimpour Planner-Guy nigel.rahimpour@gmail.com Chicago & New York  

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