We’re getting set to grow our NYC team. Reach out if you’d like to discuss opportunities…
2020 is just around the corner and we’ve big plans for our NYC office, as we look to take our belief in culturally charged commercial advantage to the next level.
We’re interested in speaking to skilled, dynamic folk who are motivated by our point of view on insight and strategy work (have a look around our website to learn more) and might be looking for a new challenge.
We’re starting the search broadly and speculatively (more specific roles to be advertised next year), so we’re happy to hear from you if you’re qual or quant, a trends specialist or content creator, a biz dev supremo or project manager. Finding people on our wavelength is the main thing.
To set up an informal chat (you can tell us what you’re looking for; we can do likewise), get in touch with Andy Crysell and Hollie Jones
Thanks to all who made it along to our event with 72andSunny and Lion in Sydney yesterday, exploring how women are portrayed in culture and how brands can engage with modern Australian women through gender literacy...
You can read more about it in this Campaign piece, and we’ll have a follow-up report to share soon. But, meantime, here are some of the key themes in how to integrate new narratives of womanhood in comms work.
1. Interrogate your narrative
Avoid ‘woke washing’ by taking a hard look at your brand narrative, making sure your internal and external stories align, and committing to real change.
2. Learn to read gender meta-narratives
Gender expectations shape our identity and have a pervasive influence on society. Look beneath the hood and understand what is shaping your audiences’ cultural context, rather than just analysing surface behaviour.
3. Question your assumptions
Do women really want to be ‘smaller’? Is beer still a ‘man’s drink’? Recognise and challenge your own biases and assumptions that exist within your brand and/or category.
4. Train your female gaze
If the male gaze turns women into objects to be seen, the female gaze sees them as people – complex, multifaceted beings.
5. Consider your male narrative
As the narratives around women evolve, the way we depict masculinity needs to become more individual and fluid, too.
6. Consider if you need gender at all
In the new age of identity, is gender really relevant? Does your brand and/or category need to speak to an audience’s biology, or are their values and identity more important?
How do you get your kicks? In the first in a regular series of culture decodes, Crowd DNA's Bridget Dalton examines changing representations of women’s pleasure, through the perspective of one brand in particular: audio streaming service Dipsea...
Pleasure is a universal aspiration, but how it’s represented is often culturally determined. For a long time brands have been signalling pleasure through formulaic cues (oozing chocolate cake, anyone?), so we thought we’d get past the repetition and use semiotics to decode the emergent ways that brands are communicating pleasure – through the perspective of one brand in particular: Dipsea.
In the West, a very brief history of pleasure reveals how it was traditionally defined by Christian ideas of good and evil. Bodily indulgence was framed as sinful, and therefore shameful. Following these morality lines, pleasure is still often viewed as overly sexual, secretive and naughty – ice cream is bad; perfume is mysterious; and sex is either a fuzzy, saccharine affair or the deep, dark functionality of Pornhub.
Dipsea – an audio streaming service specialising in erotic short stories to empower women – looks beyond these traditional signifiers of sexual desire. The brand is working hard to renegotiate the cues of pleasure by emphasising self love and removing the all too frequent suggestion of female transgression.
As we’ll see, the app actually shares its visual identity with much less kinky sources of pleasure – such as beauty apps, FMCG brands and liberal politics. This close semiotic relationship between an intimate brand and seemingly unrelated categories can tell us a lot about the new narratives of pleasure resonating with millennial generations. We explore three of these new codes of pleasure below.
Pleasure as tasteful and safe
Dipsea’s gender neutral block colours provide tastefully modern, carefully curated contrasts. In the context of pleasure in the #MeToo era, it’s interesting to observe how the uniform tone and lack of depth work to limit any sense of mystery or unknown; this is a very safe type of sensuality. The absence of shadow suggests the absence of menace and again codes pleasure as a secure space, not a risky romp to the dark side. This sense of safety represents an important shift away from the dark colours and hints of violence (fluffy handcuffs, Fifty Shades Of Grey) often associated with sex and sex products.
Pleasure as important and trustworthy
Historically, serif typefaces and capital letters were to be found in sombre, authoritarian spaces such as banks and museums. Today, they’re commonly used by liberal institutions such as London’s Southbank Centre and The Guardian. More recently still, these font styles are also found in more indulgent spaces, such as personal care and television (eg Treatwell and Netflix’s The Politician). Dipsea’s use of the font follows this lineage and codes pleasure as deserving of respect and trust. It’s serious business and, rather than hidden and private, pleasure deserves a platform and can even be a source of pride.
Pleasure as fluid and complex
Finally, Dipsea’s use of secondary and tertiary colours arranged in amorphous shapes code pleasure as complex and natural. The way the organic shapes in the Dipsea app and comms flow over the edge of the images reinforces that desire is fluid and unbound. Here, discovery and exploration are possible beyond the standard perimeters of pleasure. This helps Dispea communicate another important shift: that pleasure can be found in experimentation and beyond the traditional binaries of gender and monogamy.
Altogether, these three codes demonstrate how modern pleasure is coming out of the guilt-ridden, shadows of darkness into the light of empowered nuance. By decoding brands like Dispea at the forefront of cultural change, we can learn to speak the new language of intimacy, sex, and human connection. Pleasure is a human right for all of us, and semiotics helps us understand how to effectively communicate it in an ever-changing cultural context.
Calling all videographers. We’re on the hunt for a full time, London based film consultant...
We’re looking for a videographer to join the Socialise creative team at Crowd DNA London’s Hoxton Square office. This team – consisting 0f videographers, writers and designers – works alongside our researchers and strategists, creating first-rate content to communicate insight and immerse brands in the lives of audiences around the world.
This role focuses on crafting film content for some of the most brands in the world – as well as creating original content to promote Crowd DNA. If you love to travel, this is the role for you – you’ll be sent around the world, filming and conducting ethnographic research in cities near and far.
Back in London, you’ll be managing the film side of large projects – liaising with client teams and taking on storyboarding, editing, post production and final delivery. You’ll also be tasked with thinking up new ways to use film – whether that’s technique, style or equipment-based.
While this is a film focused role, we’re looking for someone who shows a keen interest in the wider Crowd DNA business. You should be passionate about exploring culture, and have a sense of how it’s important for brands to be engaged with it.
Here’s what we’re looking for in more detail:
– One to three years of solid work experience, ideally including some in an agency environment
– First-rate film and photography skills, including shooting video using Canon film kit and filming interview/documentary-style content
– Equally hot editing skills, with a mastery of the Adobe Creative Suite (especially Premiere Pro; bonus points for After Effects knowledge)
– An aptitude for project management, and an ability to manage the delivery of work in an efficient, punctual and effective manner
– Keen to bring ideas to the table – including testing and developing new formats for socialising trends and insights across businesses
– Enthusiasm to work alongside a team of researchers, strategists, semioticians, designers and writers
– Happy to travel, and work in an often fluid and fast-moving environment
You’ll work with an amazing array of clients, and an equally amazing team, on some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there. We can offer a competitive salary and benefits, plus clear paths for promotion and new opportunities.
Interested? Please reach out to Phoebe Trimingham with a CV, cover letter and some examples of your film work.
We’re growing our crack squad of project producers in our London office. Here’s what we’re seeking:
Demonstrable project management skills are vital here, as you’ll play a pivotal role in designing and running projects, with touchpoints including liaising with clients, suppliers and, of course, Crowd DNA’s in-house team.
You don’t necessarily need experience in insight and strategy environments – more a track record in ensuring projects run smoothly; managing timelines, sourcing costs, allocating resource etc. Any form of recruitment (experts, artists, influencers) or casting experience is a plus.
The role comes with great benefits (betterment scheme, training, sabbatical, company lunches and days out, flexi hours etc); the chance to work on some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there; and the opportunity to progress in an exciting and progressive business. To apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Dr Matilda Andersson.
As so much of our work can’t be shared, it’s great when we do get the chance to. Here’s some exciting projects for Twitter and HSBC…
We’ve been working with Twitter in the US, merging machine learning, cultural exploration, semiotics and quant surveying, making sense of billions of tweets to identify trends (18 of them, within six core themes) that have a consistent upward trajectory. Check the work out (with downloadable PDFs aplenty) here.
And we’ve been working with HSBC on the Enrich List – aimed at their high net worth Jade customers – combining cultural analysis and interviews with our Kin network to understand motivational trends for those who have achieved a certain level of wealth; then finding 50 rewarding experiences for personal growth. You can find out more about the approach here. And you can check out the full Enrich List here.
Thirsty? The first in a series of Crowd DNA social listening reports, Crowd Tracks serves up the frothiest alcohol trends from the last four months...
Crowd Tracks is our regular social listening dispatch, examining trends taking place at the intersection of brands and culture. First up, we get the drinks in, focusing on alcohol and uncovering some of the viral stories and category shifts that have encouraged the most engagement over the last four months.
Using social data, we’ve dug deep into global conversations to track trends and measure their impact over time, including pinpointing the brands that are making the most noise.
Inside the first Crowd Tracks you’ll find:
– Viral stories from around the world, including the state sponsored Qingdao Beer Festival in China; the rise of craft beer in the Philippines; and a new vodka made with ingredients from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
– A brand leaderboard charting the organic conversation around Guinness, Heineken and Bud (who successfully tapped into the viral Area 51 story)
– We dive into the American summer phenomenon that was White Claw and the growth in hard seltzers (even for fraternity bros)
– We also track the worldwide growth in alcohol-free living through the newly dubbed ‘sober curious’ trend, as well as the shift towards sustainable drinking, in which the environment takes centre stage for both consumers and brands
We deploy social media data in various ways at Crowd DNA; either as a stand-alone method (including producing one-off and periodical reports for our clients) or integrated alongside, for instance, semiotic, ethnographic and quantitative approaches). If you’d like to find out more about how we can use social media data to meet your business challenges, get in touch.
Come join Crowd DNA and 72andSunny in Sydney for New Narratives: Engaging With Modern Women, as we look at changing articulations of feminity...
Date: November 27
Location: Lion, Level 7, 68 York Street, Sydney, 2000
We’re very excited to confirm our debut event in Sydney – a partnership with the good folk at 72andSunny, in which, using an archetypes model, we’ll be getting into how to engage with modern women.
With 70% of Australian Gen Z women identifying as feminist and 33% feeling the #MeToo movement hasn’t gone far enough, there’s plenty to discuss. This session will explore the past, present and future of the female story – from how certain brand archetypes have been used to reinforce gender codes; to then examining how these codes are being disrupted and reimagined.
Part presentation, part panel discussion, this will be an informal session looking at how brands can engage with modern Australian women through gender literacy.
You’ll get to hear from Crowd DNA’s Sydney director, Elyse Pigram and 72andSunny strategist Sarah Tan.
And we’re excited to confirm a wonderful line-up of panellists who’ll dig into the themes: Dr Kate Adams (Bondi Vet), Amy Darvill (brand director, craft beers, Lion), Taryn Williams (founder of theright.fit and WINK Models), Tara McKenty (creative director, Google); plus a few more in the pipeline.
Thanks also to our hosts, Lion (hint: there’ll be some beers at the wrap-up).
If you’d like to come along, please get in touch with Elyse Pigram.