Tegan Morris on what it means to be a project producer at Crowd DNA - and why they’re crucial to making the magic happen...

Project producers are a vital part of the team here at Crowd DNA, and no, we’re not the same thing as a project manager! While there are parallels with a traditional PM, the producer part of our title (sounds fancy, doesn’t it?) reflects the intellectual investment we have in each and every project that we’re a part of; and our genuine interest in the work we do for our clients. Not just the fixers and organisers, we have as much of a role to play as everyone else to make the work first-rate, collaborating with each member of the team – from executives to creatives – to get the job done. More than just managing projects, we help to craft and cast them, so that we can tell meaningful stories through culture.

Getting recruitment right

One of the most important parts of a producer’s role is recruiting for research. But this is very much about moving things on from more conventional definitions of recruitment. You’ll notice that, at Crowd, we work with participants, not respondents. This is to reflect the purposeful collaboration we strive for in all of our work – not just with our clients and internal team, but with the people that help shape the research.

Instead of combing CVs and chasing people with phone calls, we want to really understand what makes each person tick, and exactly why they’d be right for the brief – which often means thinking outside the box for ways to get them involved. The producer is in charge of sourcing participants and experts, using innovative recruitment techniques and nurturing relationships with our partners who help us find the best people. It’s important to remember that choosing well means they’ll bring just as much value to the research as our in-house team, so recruitment is crucial to the project’s ultimate success. Managing and developing this globally on behalf of the wider team is one of the reasons the role is fundamental and exciting. You never know who you could be talking to on any given day – for one project it might be a behavioural scientist or wellness guru, while for another it could be Gen Z food influencers (here’s how we recruit for leading-edge work, for instance)

Keeping all the ducks in a row

We’re known for our planning abilities – you’re likely find us wielding post-its and colour coordinated schedules at every stage of the work. We’re overseeing multiple story narratives (from different projects), characters and set pieces all at once. You’ll find us putting our multitasking into action in these key areas:

Time – Producers construct and keep track of timelines, key dates and deadlines throughout the whole project, making sure the team are delivering on schedule.

Logistics – All the hows, whens and wheres are handled by the producers, problem-solving and adapting to any changes along the way to figure out how best the methodology behind the project can be realised on a practical level. Whether it’s figuring out how to keep children focused for an hour of research, how a team is going to fit in a tiny car for ethnographies or just working around national holidays – it’s the producer’s job to turn ideas into reality.

Budget Producers manage the budget and keep an eye on the costs of individual projects. Staying on top of this is one of the essential parts of the role – it is only the project lead and producers that oversee this side of the project; so being the point of contact for all project expense is a key responsibility.

A beginning, middle and end

One of the best bits about being a project producer is that, along with the project lead, we’re with projects from start to finish. This is a real privilege and means we get to dive into all aspects of the business, making our role incredibly varied. From shaping how client’s objectives will turn into a reality, speaking to people from all walks of life, to seeing final creative outputs taking form, we get to be a part of the story all the way through.

Project Producer Awesome-ness:

Seeing a project from inception to successful conclusion and knowing you helped to shape it

Collaborating with all teams in the business and the variety this brings

Ownership – having real responsibility throughout

Building relationships with the team, clients and partners

Simultaneously solving problems and thinking creatively

Take a look at the exciting roles we’re currently recruiting for at Crowd DNA here, or email us on hello@crowdDNA.com

When Gen Z become parents

As Gen Z start to reach parenthood, Crowd DNA New York’s Eden Lauffer forecasts what brands should expect from the next wave of parents...

Pew Research Center recently defined Gen Z as those born between 1997 and 2012 (so, today’s seven to 22 year-olds). From what we know so far, they’re a diverse and open-minded generation who’ve grown up enjoying the benefits of social media at their fingertips. Yet, equally, they’re also a group associated with high levels of anxiety and an overwhelming pressure to project success, both online and off.

Now that older Gen Zers have started to enter the workforce and, generally speaking, more of them will begin having children a few milestones down the road, it’s interesting to think how this group will approach and redefine parenthood. Furthermore, with a personal shopping power of $143 billion (according to Forbes), brands should be prepared for this generation to soon take family household shopping by storm. They may still be young, but we thought we’d wish away their years with a few key ways to start thinking about this next generation of parents.

Breaking The Mold

According to NPR, 48 percent of Gen Zers in the US are non-white and, according to Ipsos Mori, only 66 percent identify as ‘exclusively heterosexual,’ making them the most diverse cohort in history. This has already built a generation of outspoken individuals, taking a stand on issues like LGBTQ rights, racial bias and inequality, and plenty of other issues. As parents, Gen Zers are likely to value empathy and teach their children tolerance and acceptance of others.

Naturally, brands that embrace diversity will continue to thrive. Many parents have already strayed from typical gender norms when it comes to baby toys and names – and this will no doubt extend further. In the realm of fashion, for example, brands that were born genderless, like Phluid Project, will continue to prosper, with genderless clothing something more children’s fashion brands should definitely consider (Gap are already paving the way with their neutral baby clothes).

The Power Of Social

Gen Zers are also stereotyped for spending hours curating their lives on social media. While this may have negative associations with mental health, it could also have positive use cases for parenting.

In a study done by Collage Group, over 70 percent of Gen Z females without children felt FOMO regularly, but only 36 percent with children felt the same. It seems the presence of kids may actually reduce some of the negative impacts of social media. For example, Gen Zer Kylie Jenner has spoken about her desire to keep her role as a mom private from her (very) public life. This change has bled into her overall social media use: cutting back on what she posts and the amount that she does so.

Furthermore, being a generation known to trust recommendations from social media feeds when it comes to brands and products, this may also bleed into their shopping choices for children. They currently respond well to the recommendations of peer influencers, which may later translate into parenting purchase decisions and kid-friendly brand advice.

Everyday Coping Mechanisms

In recent years, the teen suicide rate has increased drastically – over 70 percent among 10-17 year-olds from 2006-2016, according to USA Today. However, 37 percent of Gen Zers also reported seeking help from mental health professionals (CNN), which is significantly higher than millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers.

As parents, Gen Zers are likely to emphasize the importance of mental health. They’re expected to help their children deal with life stressors in a different way than their parents did for them. Digital-native brands that help promote good mental health, such as Headspace and Talkspace, will likely thrive and give way to like-minded services designed for kids. Mindfulness apps aren’t just to benefit adults – Gen Z parents will likely get their children in the practice of using tools of their own. Apps like Calm, which tells stories to soothe users to sleep, have been recommended for kids, as have other apps that help kids with anxiety through journaling, body awareness and meditation.

Gen Zers are already firmly taking the reins on social issues, such as mental health, as well as paving the way for new types of family units, via genderless purchases. Brands will need to pay close attention to Gen Z’s values in order to keep up with this high spending, change-igniting generation on the brink of parenthood.

We're excited to be bringing our How To Speak Woman work to Singapore on March 7...

How To Speak Woman: The Asia Edition

Date: March 7

Time: 8am-11am

Location: The Great Room, 3 Temasek Avenue, Level 17 & 18, Centennial Tower, Singapore

Hosted by the lovely folk at 72andSunny, our How To Speak Woman work touches down in Singapore on March 7, for a special Asia edition.

Presented by Crowd DNA Singapore managing director, Emma Gage, we’ll be exploring how the female experience is at the eye of change in Asia, as women take charge of the conversation and start to redefine the way they look, the way they behave and the things they can be and can achieve.

But in a region where strict definitions of womanhood and femininity are engrained and change has come suddenly, the tensions are clear. So who exactly is the modern woman across the region? What does she want from change? What are the things holding her back? How should brands and business be representing her evolution?

Join us on the day before International Women’s Day for smart thinking (oh yes, and great snacks). If you’d like to attend, please contact HowTo@crowdDNA.com. And feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues.

It's been an exciting (and busy!) start to the year - here's two new roles we're recruiting for...

Senior Consultant, strategic insights team (£35,000-43,000pa)

We’re recruiting for a senior consultant to join our Hoxton Square team. Reporting in to one of our directors, this position is for someone who’s ready to play a key role (generally as project lead or co-lead) on consistently exciting, often global, briefs for clients across categories such as media, alcohol, fashion and finance; and where the emphasis is on immersive methods and getting to powerful strategic outputs. The work leans heavily on bringing a truly cultural perspective into play – naturally, we expect this to be very much your thing.

In more detail, here’s what we’re after:

– We imagine you’ll have around three to five years experience, probably in an insight environment but this could be elsewhere in marketing and media

– Demonstrable track record across areas such as project design and management, conducting mixed methods and drop dead awesome analysis/debriefing

– A tangible enthusiasm for presenting work, running workshops and for reaching bold conclusions that combine creativity and good commercial sense for our clients

– First-rate writing skills (we expect you to be contributing to our blog and producing reports)

– Proof of experience at integrating trends into your work (potentially quant, semiotics and other disciplines also)

– Our work generally involves multiple markets – we looking for someone who relishes the opportunity to travel and develop narratives and strategies that have global relevance

Consultant, strategic insights team (£25,000-32,000pa)

We’re seeking a strategic insights consultant – in particular, we’re looking for someone who has an aptitude for/experience in working with influencers, and across cultural passion points such as music, football and street culture. You’ll get to work on amazing projects for some of the most exciting brands in the world, reporting in to senior leads and collaborating as part of the wider team on projects at the intersection of insight, strategy and culture. A specific area of focus will be working on the development of our global network of experts, creatives and cultural movers.

In more detail, here’s what we’re after:

– We imagine you’ll have around 18 months to four years experience, potentially in an insight environment but this could be elsewhere in marketing and media

– You’ll come well armed with useful cultural contacts and will be keen to build out this network further

– You’ll have a good understanding of new trends in areas such as how brands are seeking to connect with music, football and street culture

– All these great ideas and insights you have in your head, you’ll be comfortable presenting them out loud to others, helping clients to understand the relevance of embedding their brands in culture

– You’ll be a thinker, for sure, but we also want a doer – someone with the drive and initiative to problem solve

– All of this exciting stuff doesn’t let you off the hook in terms of organisational skills – you’ll be able to show good evidence of how you keep work on track


The roles come 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.

When Social Meets Semiotics

Crowd DNA social listener, Benjamin Long, and semiotician, Roberta Graham, discuss the power of combining two distinct methodologies to bring online conversations into real life strategy…

As the world, replete with all of its complexities, continues to be uploaded online, social media platforms are vital for keeping up with fast-moving trends and the conversations that happen around them. But, as cultural analysts, how can we effectively and structurally make sense of all of the noise (and emojis)?

At Crowd DNA, we believe that fusing two methods together is usually better than just one. With understanding online culture, for example, applying a semiotic lens to the analysis of social data helps us make concrete sense of trends in real life, in real time.

Using semiotics in this manner provides current cultural context, which can help to validate or disprove the social listening insights. Here’s how we go about it:

Start With A Solid Question

The huge sample sizes generated through social listening are both a blessing and a curse. It can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Having a solid question in mind is the best way to ensure that the insights you surface actually align with your original business objectives. Starting with wider cultural research can also help find more nuanced or emergent ways to target the demographic that you want.

Branch Out

While being specific is essential, analysing how other categories play out on social media can also provide new perspectives as, when different themes collide, unique trends can be formed. Semiotics helps this exploration by casting an analytical eye across broader culture and making stylistic or attitudinal connections to suggest relevant shifts within your own market or category.

Context Is Everything

While some cultural phenomenon exist only online – such as memes or Instagram flop accounts – most do not. Here is where the blend of social listening with semiotics really comes into play. It’s vital to combine social data insights with a broader analysis of the cultural landscape that they operate within to gain a rich understanding of the interplay between digital and physical worlds.

What They Say Isn’t Always What They Mean

As in real life, what people say (or do) online is not necessarily reflective of how they behave in their everyday lives. To crack through this contradiction, we often look beyond the words that people use and conduct a semiotic analysis for greater understanding. This type of exploration can be key to unlocking the hidden insights within a post’s imagery, semantics, or lineup of emojis!

Not Everyone Talks

Remember that public social data will likely be skewed to those more confident in voicing their opinions, which is obviously problematic. Meanwhile, the quiet majority who use the internet to absorb information and inspiration (rather than shout their opinions) are more likely to engage with posts by liking, sharing and commenting on them. Looking to engagement data is therefore as important as the post itself and can help provide a valuable measurement of the many – not the few.

If you’d like to learn more about how we fuse social listening with semiotics to reach real cultural insights, please get in touch: hello@crowdDNA.com

Crowd DNA New York's Eden Lauffer takes aim and explores which of this year's Super Bowl ads soared - and which ones flopped...

This year’s Super Bowl can be described in one word, ‘meh’. By halftime, the score was a whopping 3-0 Patriots-Rams. The game was the lowest scoring of all time and fans were less than impressed with the halftime show. While the much-hyped ads were mostly well-received, not many stood out particularly strongly. We’ve looked into a few ads that worked well – and some that didn’t work as well.

Amazon Alexa – “Not Everything Makes The Cut”

In the 2018 Super Bowl, Alexa lost her voice, allowing celebrities to step in to help answer user questions. This year, Amazon Alexa took a similar approach, leaning on celebrities to poke fun at the voice assistant device, reminiscing on fictitious failed Alexa products such as an electric toothbrush and a dog collar.

Both playing on a theme from last year and poking fun at itself, Amazon hit the mark with this ad. The celebrities chosen for this year’s spot appealed to a wider audience, with the likes of Harrison Ford and Forest Whitaker, but also Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson of Broad City. With the final season of Broad City now airing – plus a pairing with Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’ tapping into the Golden Globe wins for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – this makes this ad deftly pop culture relevant.

Verizon – “Team That Wouldn’t Be Here”

Like in 2018, Verizon used the Super Bowl to comment on their link to first responders. This year, they tied in NFL players who had been rescued by first responders after near fatal accidents.

An improvement from last year’s ad, this year Verizon worked off of the link to the NFL rather than just reporting how they helped first responders do their jobs. However, as with last year’s spot, claiming to be responsible for part of the work first responders do feels to be a bit of a stretch for a telecom brand.

T-Mobile – “We’ll Keep This Brief,” “What’s For Dinner?,” “We’re Here For You,” and “Dad?!”

This year, T-Mobile ran a spot in every quarter of the game, playing off the same concept – text conversations. Each spot in the series showed a common text scenario most people have experienced, paired with a brand partnership for T-Mobile users at the end. For example, in “What’s For Dinner?,” a texter struggles with how to respond to a text from their friend about what to get for dinner. The offer at the end features free Taco Bell on Tuesdays for T-Mobile users. In the fourth quarter spot, “Dad?!,” a user deals with her not-so-tech-savvy father; the end card reading, “you can’t change your dad, but you can change your carrier,” offering non T-Mobile users a chance to switch.

With a recognisably similar spot in each quarter, viewers had a reason to pay attention to each ad, staying engaged. Further, each ad built up desire to be a T-Mobile user, so when the final spot played, non-users may have been curious as to how they could benefit from T-Mobile too. In past Super Bowls, T-Mobile has run several spots, but usually poke fun at competitors. This series was far less uptight and kept viewers engaged to see what came next.

Toyota RAV4 – “Toni”

Toyota used this 2019 spot to introduce its new hybrid RAV4. The spot features Toni Harris, the first woman to be offered a football scholarship with hopes of being in the NFL. The music and tone of the spot convey female empowerment. The ad finishes with Toni driving a RAV4 hybrid, the narrator stating that assumptions have been made about her, but Toyota doesn’t stand for assumptions.

While the bulk of the spot is empowering and relevant to the Super Bowl, the brand and product it’s pushing don’t match. The closing statement of the ad speaks to those who assume SUVs can’t be hybrids. It also compares Toni Harris to a car and further, to a hybrid, causing the ad to feel confusing, off base, and a little insulting.

Pepsi – “More Than OK”

No stranger to star-studded Super Bowl ads, Pepsi’s 2019 spot featured Steve Carell, Cardi B and Lil Jon. The ad plays on the common scenario of ordering a Coke in a restaurant and being asked if a Pepsi is okay instead. Using the humor of all three celebrities, Pepsi builds up that their brand is more than okay, poking fun at itself.

While previous Pepsi Super Bowl ads flaunted their heritage, this ad acknowledged that they have a strong and unforgettable competitor. Seeing an iconic brand poke fun at its downfalls makes Pepsi feel more human. This ad also plays directly into each celebrities’ own character, taking advantage of their catchphrases rather than just dropping them into the ad.

In total, this year’s ads felt a little tired, with several borrowing tactics from last year’s, such as brand partnerships (Bud Light and Game Of Thrones) and reoccurring series (T-Mobile). Let’s hope for better, on and off the field, next Super Bowl.

Rise: The Leading Edge

Our Rise breakfast series is back for 2019. First up: how we use leading edge behaviour to predict what’s next for our clients and for mainstream consumers…

Date: February 28

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

Staying ahead of upcoming trends is vital for brands. But if you keep doing the same insight work, digging deeper into the same audiences, in the same geographies, probably in the same way as your competitors, you’ll inevitably get to the same outputs. Ideas become incremental and generic. You keep the spaces that your brand operates in small, safe and contained.

In this session, Dr Matilda Andersson, our London managing director, and senior consultant Roberta Graham explain how we get beyond those small spaces by using leading edge behaviour to predict what’s next for our clients – and, crucially, how we apply the learnings to strategies that target more mainstream consumers.

We’ll bust the common misunderstandings associated with working with leading edgers – like, why use an unrepresentative sample? Isn’t it just cool hunting? Isn’t this only relevant to niche brands?  – before moving on to the exciting ways that we collaborate with these audiences.

We’ll share ideas on how to use hashtag analysis and cast cultural gatekeepers; how to shift from working with ‘respondents’ to ‘collaborators’; how leading edge typologies are by no means limited to those of the ‘cool kid’ variety; how, through analysis of our conversations with early adopters, experts and influencers, we reach truly fresh perspectives on engaging everyday consumers.   

If you’d like to join us for leading edge conversation and croissants, please fill out this form or contact rise@crowdDNA.com. And feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues (leading edge or otherwise).

With urban environments changing rapidly, our third issue of City Limits dives into youth culture's past, present and future…

Having first delved into the urban experience in Volume One, then taken a ride into mobility in Volume TwoVolume Three of City Limits has us exploring urban living from the perspective of young people.  

It’s impossible to think of youth culture without thinking of cities. Traditionally, they’ve gone hand in hand; it’s within our urban hubs that young people have ignited new trends, with creativity delivered direct from the streets. But cities are changing – free spaces are being squeezed out, gentrification is altering their complexion – and youth culture is changing along with it. 

In this issue, we explore the history of youth culture claiming its space in the city; we pinpoint the urban tribes of today; the challenge the online world presents to the city; and highlight best-in-class examples of brands connecting with young urban trends

City Limits Volume Three is available to download here.

And you can watch the video trailer below: