17th June 2021
Unlocking the Secrets of Hollywood Storytelling to Build New Cultural Narratives
We live in an era characterised by doom-laden narratives of disaster and decline; from melting polar ice-caps to political polarisation to pandemics. The optimistic ‘brave new world’ narratives that characterised the 20th century have fallen by the wayside and this broadly pessimistic outlook has negatively impacted public faith in institutions.
A victim of this narrative shift has been the overseas charity sector which has been hit particularly hard because of hardening public attitudes and outlooks on the world.
Given these circumstances, numerous charities including Save the Children, DEC, Water Aid and the Aid Coalition have asked us to help them define new cultural narratives to re-engage the public.
Because the public are story consumers not story creators, traditional research methods were not going to work. Instead we looked to two approaches that would go to the source of cultural narratives – semiotics and storytelling.
In this session we revealed how, through a combination of semiotics and narrative analysis, we used the secrets of Hollywood storytelling to create brand new cultural narratives for the charity sector in the UK.
The session starred semiotician/cultural analyst (Dr. Nick Gadsby) and a Hollywood storyteller and producer turned anthropologist (Deanna Mitchell) who narrated their combined approach to developing shared cultural stories.
20th May 2021
Looking Backward to Move Forward: How Health Trends Turned to the Past when the Pandemic Hit
Until early 2020 there was a clear direction in trends in health – this was characterised by a move away from traditional health experts to the more democratic space of the proxpert.
Drawing on work we carried out for Boots and Walgreens during the pandemic we showed how both brands reinvested in their traditional expertise around pharmacy at a time when it appeared that trends such as wellness and self-care were making traditional health less relevant.
Our presentation focused on how we used cultural analysis and semiotics to explain how trends are not unidirectional and how this differed in the UK vs the US where different cultural values shaped responses to public health policy and traditional expertise.
The story is not that simple, however. We also showed that even when brands and consumers look backwards they cannot ignore how more recent trends have shaped consumer expectations – part of a wider cultural and social trend of Post Nostalgia where the past is re-tooled to manage the present.
We’ll show how the outcome of this synthesis of past and present created both a sense of reassurance and a feeling of confidence in the future for customers that grew brand reputation for both Boots in the UK and Walgreens in the US.
16th May 2021
With Gill Hayes, Global Head of Research, WBA we presented...
Culture is the Heart of a Brand: Evolving the Boots Brand through Cultural Analysis
How Boots used insights from The Answer to get really deep understanding about the Boots brand and the cultural insights they needed to respond to.
Including pieces of research looking at cultural trends, shorter pieces looking at how they could apply these trends and many collaborative workshops where together we worked through what our brand model could look like, what Boots needed to stand for, and what territories it could leverage to remain relevant - especially in a post-Covid world.
We explored new trends around Post-binary society and how we used this concept to evolve Boots into a brand that could be bother traditional and modern.