Crowd DNA x STRAT7

Here's some more info on Crowd DNA joining the STRAT7 group. And some slightly gushy stuff on the journey that got us there...

We’re delighted that the news is out there: we have joined the STRAT7 group of businesses and we’re all set for the next stage of our journey. Pausing on the whooping for just a second, time to tell you a bit more about what’s ahead…

Still in its embryonic stages, STRAT7 hosts a number of best-in-class companies working at the intersection of consultancy, insights and data, with more acquisitions coming soon. We’ve been impressed at all stages of the pre-deal conversation with their understanding of what makes Crowd DNA unique (our brand, our work, our team, our point of view) and the role we can take within STRAT7.

We’re looking forward to playing our part in growing the group, to exploring synergies, amplifying our own offer and flying the flag – as enthusiastically as ever – for culturally charged commercial advantage.

We’re also looking forward to roadmapping new opportunities – from growing our global presence further to specialisms and innovations – and will be sure to share news on these as they reach fruition.

We generally prefer looking to what’s next than what’s been, but it seems an opportune time to think back over Crowd DNA’s 12 years, too. We launched in June 2008, slap bang in the middle of the worst financial crisis prior to, well, this financial crisis. But we weren’t going to let that dent our positivity. We started with four clients – Sony PlayStation, Channel 4, Kiss FM, Topshop – and a loose yet fast-evolving ambition to do things just a bit differently in insight. In terms of method innovation, for sure, but as importantly in how we talk about insight; how we communicate; the people we look to bring into our team and, of course, our efforts to set everything in a broader cultural context.

We first set up as a team of four in a small space rented from the lovely folk at Poke, a couple of floors above Mother creative agency, in Shoreditch’s Biscuit Building. Next stop: just across the road to the Tea Building. Then up the high street to our current London home in Hoxton Square.

And along the way, we’ve achieved the hugely satisfying aim of launching in other markets. That’s launching as in headfirst, having to learn extremely quickly as we go. You can now find us in Amsterdam, New York, Singapore, Sydney and, you never know, maybe a few more places to come…

And in those 12 action-packed years, our work has got progressively more global, too – we gave up counting at circa 60 markets worked in. Our long-held belief in the power of content and editorial to socialise insight has flourished. And our strategic insights core has been augmented by the increasingly impactful additions of quantitative research, trends and semiotics, our KIN network and our growing interest in working with unstructured data. All of it powered by the creativity and first-rate thinking of the smartest, nicest team in the business.

We’re dead proud, and hugely grateful, for everything we’ve achieved as Crowd DNA so far. But enough reminiscing, because we’ve got plenty more to do in the years ahead. STRAT7 offers us an excellent platform for growth and we cannot wait to get stuck in.

Crowd Tracks: Gaming

No longer reserved just for those locked in bedrooms, gaming has become democratised and more diverse. Our latest edition of Crowd Tracks loads up...

The fourth edition of our regular social data report, Crowd Tracks, is here. This time, it’s all about gaming as we explore unstructured data surrounding the category using our Culture At Scale method.

Gaming has triumphed as one of the saviours of 2020. In a year of uncertainty and confinement, it provides us a tool to escape on the one hand, but remain connected and plugged in on the other. Narratives within gaming culture are also shifting. No longer seen as (entirely) harmful to mental health, games are being presented as a space for self-care. And, while it may be long overdue, the industry is now taking steps toward greater representation and inclusion. 

The full report features:

– Viral stories around the world – from BTS launching their latest single in Fornite, to the UK government calling for a public enquiry into paid-for loot boxes

– A brand leaderboard ranking the social juggernauts of the gaming world and continued dominance of MMOGs (massive multiplayer online games)

– A global hashtag analysis of Instagram, unpacking the conversation and importance of community, humour and creativity in gaming

– A spotlight on Dontnod’s latest game Tell Me Why – a brave and complex adventure confronting issues of sexuality and mental health

Trends analysis of the evolution of games into entertainment ecosystems and the ongoing issues of diversity in gaming.

Download the full copy of Crowd Tracks: Gaming here.

Culture At Scale at Crowd DNA

At Crowd DNA, we’re constantly tracking conversations online across a range of categories. We deploy social media and other unstructured data sources in a number of ways; either as a stand-alone method (including producing one-off and periodical reports for our clients) or integrated alongside semiotic, ethnographic and quantitative approaches. If you’d like to find out more about how we can use Culture At Scale to meet your business challenges, get in touch.

We're hosting an APAC and PST-timed second session of our Storytelling From A Distance webinar (Nov 19), with Tom Eccles and Elyse Pigram exploring how narrative building is evolving, to be captured and told from afar...


November 19, midday AEDT | 9.00 SST | 17.00 PST | 20.00 EST – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes including Q&A)


Storytelling is not as straightforward as it once was. Not only is it harder to physically capture stories in a distant world, it’s also harder to capture the attention of those you’re telling stories to. In a time of rapid and unpredictable change, storytelling– from the method of delivery to the content itself – has pivoted and adapted at speed.

In this session, we’ll look at what has changed about how we tell stories in a time where most things are done at a distance. We’ll consider not only what different forms of remote storytelling have emerged in popular culture, but also how we – as researchers – can continue to build empathy with people, and understand our audiences without visiting or seeing them in person.

Presented by Crowd DNA’s global film lead, Tom Eccles, and Sydney/APAC director, Elyse Pigram, this session will consider:

– What new forms of storytelling have captured the spotlight in 2020

– How brands can use these new forms of storytelling in their communications

– How we can help stakeholders build empathy with their audiences and understand them without being face to face

– Ways research teams can continue to socialize their projects in a distant workplace

– How we capture and create impactful content at Crowd DNA

We hope you can make it!


November 19, midday AEDT | 9.00 SST | 17.00 PST | 20.00 EST – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes including Q&A)


 

New Roles At Crowd DNA NYC

We're seeking new recruits to help us meet our ambitious plans for Crowd DNA NYC in 2021 and beyond...

Following a successful 2020 (yes, despite everything…), we have big plans for growing our US business in 2021 and beyond. This includes deepening relationships with existing clients; but also adding to our client base and extending the range of services and methods we can provide from our NYC base in Williamsburg.

More roles will follow, but the next stage in our ambition to build up Crowd DNA in the US is recruiting for these three positions:

Associate Director (Crowd Numbers)

A quantitative research role requiring five plus years of relevant experience; this could be in an insight role, or as a strategist/planner who can point to solid quantitative skills. Confidence needed to design and lead complex, multimarket projects from start to finish and to be a trusted advisor to clients.

More details here

Senior Consultant (Business & Strategy)

This role will focus on building client relationships, thought leadership and comms, leading proposals/project designs and then playing a strategic role across live work – such as in launches phases and delivering findings. Keeping this hire away from the nitty gritty of fieldwork is designed to allow them to prioritise business development and client management, and thus requires someone (from an insight or strategy background) who comes equipped with all of the entrepreneurial ambition necessary to help us grow the Crowd DNA business in the US.

Executive (Strategic Insights/Socialise)

An entry level role working across our strategic insights and Socialise specialisms, meaning you will be involved, and developing skills, in qualitative research (such as ethnography and mobile methods) and content creation – alongside more broadly learning how to bring a cultural perspective to brand and innovation strategy. While this is an entry level role, if you can point to relevant experience (such as internships, short term roles or your own passions and endeavors) in areas relevant to Crowd DNA’s work and ethos, that’s a big plus.

Director (Signs & Socialise)

This one is open to candidates in NYC or London, in fact. We’re seeking a skilled and entrepreneurially minded person to take a lead role across Crowd DNA’s global offices, managing our Signs (trends, semiotics, KIN network, Culture At Scale) and Socialise (editorial and video) offers.

More details here


The roles come with competitive salaries (and a bonus in the case of three of them), 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 resume and covering letter), please get in touch with Hollie Jones.

Click State: Brand Allies

In the third part of our Click State series, Crowd DNA New York explores the changing role of brands in America through an analysis of digital activations and online conversations...

This post is part of our Click State series in the lead up to the US election, analyzing digital activations and online conversations (using our Culture At Scale method) and turning emergent trends into valuable learnings. You can read the previous post here.


‘Vote’ was once a message used only by brands already engaged in politics. Now, it’s a must for all. Just as Covid-19 turned parking lots into outdoor movie theaters and parks into yoga studios, brands are reimagining their role as influencers of American culture. By analyzing how a selection of brands are activating digitally and the subsequent conversations online, we can spot the new, emerging standards that they are being held to. Americans are demanding a whole lot more from the businesses they support – and during the intensity of the election, those demands are being met, even if it means losing customers.

Pick A Side

With this year’s surge in Black Lives Matter activism, Americans got comfortable boycotting brands. This also brought a wary eye to performative activism. No longer is a vague post in solidarity enough. This election, consumers demand that brands clearly state candidate allegiance as there’s an understanding that shopping a brand can translate directly to campaign funding. Movement for and against brands is swift, too. Always left leaning, Patagonia took the plunge with playful messages on their tags, driving up social support for the brand. Goya, on the other hand, shocked Latinx brand loyalists by pledging support for Trump, sending consumers into a fierce boycott. Such breaks in brand loyalty show how deeply Americans value businesses that pledge a side regardless of a loss in profits.

Holding Space For Voting

Whether it’s physical space or virtual space on an app, brands are lending themselves to the fight. Just like the perfume brands that manufactured hand sanitizer in response to Covid, KITH and NBA are repurposing their spaces to house voter registration, forgoing business as a result.

Virtual spaces are being transformed too. While Uber and Instagram seem unlikely places to get informed, they’re trading app real estate for voting resources. Voting, registration and ballots can feel intimidating – but brands can use their established and trusted relationships with Americans to educate them in spaces that feel familiar and less intimidating than the Board Of Elections office.

Speaking Youth

With campaigning geared toward older voters, aging candidates and low tech voting options, the election can feel out of touch for younger Americans. These voters are also new to traditional politics; unsure where to register, get information, or actually cast a vote. Taking advantage of their credibility factor and ability to relate to young Americans, brands like Snap and ATTN: are bridging the gap. These brands are using colloquial language, emoji and relevant references to speak the way these voters talk among peers. Key to this is that these brands usually relate to younger Americans with similar messaging, making these efforts feel natural.

As Americans raise the bar on their expectations, we see the role of ‘brand’ change. Generic messages that speak to the entire population, or t-shirts that read ‘vote’ without any larger action, no longer have the wow factor. In a climate where most Americans feel a lack of guidance from the government, social conversations and digital activations prove that relationships are being elevated. With brands now being seen as trusted partners and institutions, consumers demand their dedication – whether that be explicitly stating candidate allegiance; genuinely committing to political education; or even giving up valuable resource and space for voting activity, Americans expect full devotion from the businesses they support, just as they would from a political candidate.   


Source: Brandwatch tracking data from Jul 1, 2020-Oct 20, 2020

KITH: (“voter registration” OR voterregistration OR “register to vote” OR registertovote) AND (kith)

NBA: nba AND (“voter resgistration” OR voterregistration OR “register to vote” OR registertovote)

Goya: goya OR “goya foods” OR goyafood

Join Crowd DNA New York’s Tom Eccles, and London’s Phoebe Trimingham, for a session exploring how storytelling is evolving, to be captured and told from a distance...


November 11, 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm GMT – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes including Q&A)


Storytelling is not as straightforward as it once was. Not only is it harder to physically capture stories in a distant world, it’s also harder to capture the attention of those you’re telling stories to. In a time of rapid and unpredictable change, storytelling– from the method of delivery to the content itself – has pivoted and adapted at speed.

In this session, we’ll look at what has changed about how we tell stories in a time where most things are done at a distance. We’ll consider not only what different forms of remote storytelling have emerged in popular culture, but also how we – as researchers – can continue to build empathy with people, and understand our audiences without visiting or seeing them in person.

Presented by Crowd DNA’s global film lead, Tom Eccles, and associate director Phoebe Trimingham from our Socialise team, this session will consider:

– What new forms of storytelling have captured the spotlight in 2020

– How brands can use these new forms of storytelling in their communications

– How we can help stakeholders build empathy with their audiences and understand them without being face to face

– Ways research teams can continue to socialize their projects in a distant workplace

– How we capture and create impactful content at Crowd DNA

We hope you can make it!


November 11, 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm GMT – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes including Q&A)


 

We're recruiting for a brand new role at Crowd DNA, taking the lead across our foresight and content specialisms...

We’re seeking a skilled and entrepreneurially minded person to manage our Crowd Signs and Socialise teams and offers.

Crowd Signs: trends, semiotics, culture at scale (social and unstructured data), KIN (global network of experts, connectors and creators)

Socialise: in-house creative team, including film, editorial, digital, design

These two disciplines form an important commercial opportunity, but also play a crucial role in maintaining Crowd DNA’s positioning as a leading force in cultural insights and strategy, leveraging our POV in the form of content marketing and thought leadership material.

Key responsibilities:

– Leading the growth of our Crowd Signs offer; including business development, directing pitches, working closely with the team to deliver commercial advantage to our clients, ensuring repeat business and a growing pipeline of opportunities.

– Leading the growth of our Socialise offer – creating Crowd DNA’s own content, as well as managing outputs where we’re socialising insights for our clients; and innovating/monetising new opportunities for Socialise.

– Managing the Crowd Signs team – currently consisting of five multi-disciplined trends researchers, semioticians and big data analysts; making certain we deliver high quality project work at all times. We expect you to be experienced in trends work and, at a minimum, comfortable overseeing the other fields and keen to learn more.

– Managing the Socialise team – currently consisting of two videographers, one editorial lead and a designer. Next to managing the team, we expect you to be high standard at creating written editorial and, at a minimum, comfortable in overseeing the other fields and keen to learn more.

– Collaborating with Crowd DNA’s senior team to make sure Signs and Socialise contribute to existing client relationships and category specialisms, maximising the opportunity for revenue growth across all business functions and global offices.

– Enthusiastic at the prospect of managing a cross-office team, as we look to build out our Signs and Socialise skillsets in different locations.

This role will form an important part of the senior team across the Crowd DNA group. It’s a fantastic opportunity to join, in a senior capacity, a consultancy business that gets to work on a huge number of incredibly thought-provoking and culturally-oriented projects for amazing brands; and to be a key contributor to how we push the boundaries of what we’re about as a business.

We are open to candidates based in London or New York City for this role. It comes with great benefits (betterment scheme, training, sabbatical, company lunches and days out, flexi hours etc); 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.

In our second installment of Click State, Crowd DNA New York turns to TikTok to uncover learnings from a platform full of politics, creativity and a lot of personality...

This post is part of our Click State series, analyzing conversation online (using our Culture At Scale method) in the lead up to the US election and turning emergent trends into valuable learnings. You can read our first post here.  


To uncover the full force behind TikTok, we have to debunk misconceptions – it’s not all lighthearted, silly content, and it’s not just a playspace for Gen Z. Instead, TikTok’s short form layout lends well to disseminating punchy information. If Twitter and Instagram forged the way for concise content, TikTok enables creators to add drama and flair to that same message. The platform’s democratic nature also provides everyone with the ability to post to the homepage. And it’s that accessibility that makes TikTok a level playing field when it comes to mobilizing around the election.

When browsing other social platforms, we see similar memes, clips, headlines and infographics. Yet the content on TikTok is always something new. By conducting social media analysis we can examine those differences further and start to uncover emerging, TikTok based themes around the upcoming election.

Democratizing Knowledge On #TikTokTaughtMe

From iPhone usability hacks to science explained, #TikTokTaughtMe enables users to share and expand their knowledge. This hashtag, paired with others like #Election2020, has given TikTokers a way to quickly educate themselves and others. From how to debate someone with opposing views to what certain laws mean, the hashtag creates a safe space for learning and sharing knowledge. This type of openhearted content highlights TikTok’s ‘come as you are’ ethos. It sets the platform up to welcome a diversity of opinion, while always striving to be better and learn more.

TikTokers utilize #TikTokTaughtMe to share and build knowledge
TikTokers utilize #TikTokTaughtMe to share and build knowledge

Making The World Smaller

Actor and rapper, Daveed Diggs, released a song denouncing Trump supporters as white supremacists. Users then merged it with the national anthem, which liberal TikTokers from conservative families are now using to confront relatives and catch their reactions on film. This is TikTok making the world feel smaller. Rather than being isolated in a town of people with opposing views, TikTokers are able to take to the platform to feel camaraderie. Such content empowers users to start difficult conversations, knowing they have the support of an online community behind them.

Challenges can provide TikTokers with a common space to relate to one another
Challenges can provide TikTokers with a common space to relate to one another

Being Your Authentic Self

TikTok Trump supporters are using #MAGAchallenge to show their love. The videos are varied, but all express proud support regardless of the opinions of others. Many use the song ‘I Like Trump,’ which voices similar sentiment and unifies the posts. In every election, some Americans shy away from voicing support for ‘unpopular’ candidates. But, with TikTok’s vast niches, there’s a place for everyone to express their true selves and feel heard. And when TikTokers feel supported, they feel empowered and free to speak their mind.

TikTok makes space for its users to be themselves and find others like them - near and far
TikTok makes space for its users to be themselves and find others like them - near and far

By analyzing these themes coming from conversations on TikTok, we can see the ability that social media has to create safe learning environments, build support systems and empower its users. But it is also clear that content can no longer be recycled across all social media outlets.

For brands to cater to their audience in authentic and impactful ways, it’s important to realize each platform’s use cases. Authenticity, empathy and camaraderie are built into all of TikTok’s features. So in a year where there’s a new breaking headline everyday, learning how to wield these features (as well as TikTok’s creativity) will help brand communications cut through.