Monday, 11 July 2011

Cultural Strategy - Holt and Cameron

This book develops a very interesting alternative for developing briefs/strategy to the traditioanl approache.

It jumps right into the usual gap between ‚brand statement’ and execution. Rather than letting the execution being developed randomly based on meaningsless brand statements and empty feeling worlds (usually called tone of voice in the briefing) Douglas and Holt propose build creative work on ideology, myths and cultural codes

“in the end, even if the concept consists entirely of abstract phrases, the actual marketing offering must make use of concrete cultural content. (…) However, because such messy content has been systematically excluded from the insights and strategy stages, when cultural content is finally added back in, it happens without any sort of strategic guidance” (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 302).

He argues that innovation is usually based either on technological innovation or on a psychological benefit areas – yet both ways ignore cultural innovations. For Douglas and Holt it is not about better product or services but inventing a better ideology: for example Nike had all their product innovation developed early. And also its positioning on enhancing performance was in place. But it only took off once they reinvented the American dream with their ideology of “Combative solo willpower”. Similarly Ben & Jerry only took off, once the Ideological flashpoints against the Reagan free market economy and showed how this contributed to a sustainable business.
2010, p. 88). Marlboro used the cowboy for years without success – only once it developed Marlboro country against the backdrop of the ideal of the “organisation man”. They used John Wayne’s Western as source material, but changed it significantly according to the reactionary work myth: Marlboro country is a place where physically challenging work takes place in nature, where cowboys must be self-reliant and determined, no savages no guns and no violence. There are no women to rescue; cowboy is hos own boss. This is not a Western, it presents a myth about an idealized version of pre-industrial men’s work on the Western frontier (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 167).

In the last section of the book, Douglas and Holt argue, why brand bureaucracies don’t work: It is not unusual for a brand bureaucracy to spend only 1-2 days of developing concepts and than test them for months (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 298). The end result are concepts full of vague generic phrases that could mean just about anything – “the qulity of the concept is far less important than the rigor of the process used to test it.” (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 299).

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