Thurs October 5 at 1pm & 5pm BST/ 12pm & 5pm EST. RSVP by clicking the first session here and the second session here.
Everything’s A Mess... a webinar on how brands can navigate uncertainty
As you may have noticed, it’s been a turbulent few years. Shocks of uncertainty feel like they’re coming more seismically and frequently than ever (though, spoiler alert: things have always been uncertain) leaving us, and brands, and consumers in a constant state of flux.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom. There is good to come from uncertainty, and in chaos lies opportunity. So, how can you find a way through?
What should brands do or not do? Are you a hand holder, facilitator of escapism, or relatable realist – and what’s right for your brand?
At Crowd DNA we’re all about embracing the messiness of culture. It’s where we think brands can really thrive, and we relish our role as specialists in navigating unknowns. In this webinar we’ll:
_Discover how uncertainty can be a motivator for both consumers and brands
_Explore the human needs that are heightened in response to instability
_Use our trends and semiotics expertise to provide guidance on how brands can speak to these needs, across visuals, language and more
Join Rachel Rapp, futures director, and Amy Nicholson, associate director, futures, on Thurs October 5 to get stuck into the mess.
RSVP by clicking 1pm BST / 8am EST here and 5pm / 12pm EST here.
Cultural strategy executive Jasmine Lo reflects on her time spent during Crowd's Culture Club internship programme…
The start of a new year is always a good time to process experiences and jot down any learnings for the year ahead. Last summer, I joined Crowd’s Culture Club programme as a cultural strategy intern. The experience was a whirlwind in the best way possible. With time to reflect on it since becoming a permanent member of the team, I thought I’d write a bit of a note to self and share some things I’ve taken with me from the journey.
1. Trust in the process of figuring it out
It is rarely a straight line to landing the right role and company. It certainly took me a while before I found Crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever completed an internship that felt as fulfilling as Culture Club. Being thrown straight in as a newbie is terrifying, but it’s the most effective way to learn, and Crowd has you shape-shifting and figuring it out from the get go.
2. There are so many ways in
It is always eye-opening to learn all the ways folks at Crowd made their way to the company. A non-linear career of funky job pivots or travelling across countries through the years is something we are united by. With such an array of experiences across industries and cultures, it’s no wonder Crowd does things a little differently.
3. Confusion became my best pal, so, I will let it ground me
I have never been so pleased to have no idea what was going on than here at Crowd. Culture Club armed me with the openness to keep asking myself and others questions along the way. Every day was (and still is) totally different and it forces you to ask questions. Before joining Crowd, I had rarely seen research done with such creativity and empathy. The process itself is a source of endless inspiration.
4. Solidarity and support come in so many forms at Crowd
Who knows where little conversations here and there can lead to. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I first joined was: “it’s not about doing the most in order to prove yourself – that’s not what we’re about at Crowd – it’s about tuning in and being really present and talking to others”. As a newbie, that was invaluable to me. There is always someone at Crowd I feel able to reach out to and that’s really special and important to hold onto.
5. My cross-cultural chaos matters
This is cultural strategy after all. The more cultural nuance the better. I need to trust in the things I do know because they help me navigate a lot of what cultural strategy is. Our individual intuition to navigate conversations is everything.
I’ve now joined the strategic insights team permanently, but I will always look back on my early months at Crowd with fondness. Culture Club is a prime example of what an internship should feel like – you should be able to walk away and into whatever role is next for you confident in the possibilities ahead.
Curious about the Culture Club internship programme? Read all about it here.
Roughly 14 years and five months in the making, finally we've got round to writing our book. How We Work With Culture tells our story - the important stuff and the weird bits and pieces. But why bother? CEO and founder Andy Crysell explains...
First up, an admission. Probably should’ve written this a long time ago. Not now, almost 15 years into the Crowd DNA story.
So why now? Well, better late than never. Also because, as we grow, as we become more global, communicating what we stand for becomes ever more important to get right. We can’t just hope that this will all drift through the ether, like we perhaps could when Crowd DNA was a handful of people sitting around the same table. Now we’re not even sitting in the same timezone.
Prior to creating How We Work With Culture, what’s in here had never all been put down on paper in the one place. It had been talked about in instalments. Shared in various presentations, workshops and company get-togethers. It had existed in the heads of various people (much of it in mine). It often ended up hidden away in the mysterious depths of our Google Drive.
What do we hope to achieve with this? To give our team, particularly new arrivals, a stronger sense of what we’re about. The confidence to dive into the wonderful messiness of working with culture. And if there are people outside of the business who are also interested in what we’re about, that’s great, too.
We hope it will demonstrate that, despite all of the aforementioned messiness, Crowd DNA has craft to it – something we can call… a way. We want to be seen as a unique proposition, and to define and inspire a next generation of cultural strategists. We think How We Work With Culture has a big role to play here, too.
But then in some ways it’s just nice to have the opportunity to tell our story. All of the things we chat about. The stuff we try to make sense of, and somewhat obsess over. The big strategic things, but then also all of the weird bits and pieces that make up our narrative. All of it, in its own way, is important.
With thanks to the entire Crowd DNA team, whose creativity and energy never fails to amaze. Special applause for Chloe Swayne for all of the fabulous design work (and perseverance) that went into creating How We Work With Culture. And to our group managing director, Dr Matilda Andersson, for her contributions here, but more so, for her commitment to Crowd DNA itself.
The annual Amsterdam Dance Event is an experience close to our hearts. Here's what happened when Crowd DNA went out, out...
There are a couple of reasons why we wanted to write about the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) this year. First, we’re very proud to call Amsterdam one of our homes, and we like to get a chance to talk about what’s happening on our doorsteps.
Secondly, we’re strongly inspired by all of the DIY energy at the core of dance music. Blending things, improvising, getting tech to do things it wasn’t meant to do, grassroots creativity – it’s all very much in our (Crowd) DNA.
ADE has been bringing cutting edge music, club nights, industry seminars, film screenings, art exhibitions and record store happenings to the Netherlands capital since 1996 and is attended by over 400,000 people, reveling in this mix of sub-cultural expression. Here is a taste of our experiences at the five-day event this year…
Last Night A (Female) DJ Saved My Life – Andy Crysell, CEO & Founder
DJs/writers/dance music historians Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton staged a talk and party at ADE, marking the launch of the second edition of their highly definitive Last Night A DJ Saved My Life book. For anyone who hasn’t encountered it, Last Night… heads deep into the psyche of after dark culture and the role of the DJ, telling an inspirational underground story that weaves from reggae to disco to house and beyond.
The big shift in the new edition comes from Bill and Frank’s acknowledgement that, in the first, the input from female-identifying DJs was glaringly light. They’ve put that right this time – recognising the impact of many women DJs across many genres, including the fascinating story of Celeste Alexander, the only female DJ ever to spin at Chicago’s The Music Box, the iconic home of Ron Hardy and year zero house music.
They noted in their talk how they now aim for 50/50 female and male line-ups at their own parties and that, on top of everything else, it simply makes business sense: “doing this has completely renergised who turns up for our nights.”
Spearheaded by the likes of Charlotte De Witte and Amelie Lens, female DJs have made a monumental impression on dance music over the last half decade. But there are those, less known, who came before them. Telling their story – and thus the origins of modern sub-culture – is important to do. Props, while on the subject, to the women DJs who had a big impact on me in the past. Smokin’ Jo, Kelli Hand, Princess Julia, Nancy Noise, Lisa Loud, DJ Paulette, to name a few.
Beats And Burgers – Joey Zeelen, Director, Amsterdam and Stockholm
After the success of the pop-up PAINDEMIE, the restaurant specialising in toastie burgers recently opened a permanent location in Amsterdam Oud West. The building on the Kinkerstraat consists of two floors. The interior downstairs is inspired by a Japanese subway station where burgers, sandwiches and grilled cheese are served. Upstairs is an art deco, Japanese listening bar where vinyl records are played all weekend.
The restaurant has gained a true cult following over the last few years due to its surprising food, interior design, humorous Instagram posts and collaborations with in-vogue chefs.
During ADE the owners decided to host an early evening rave with upcoming Dutch DJs JEANS and Mairo Nawaz. Both played psy/Goa trance and techno for four hours, while the restaurant staff continued flipping burgers. The result is best described as a Blade Runner-dystopian-retro-futurism party… with amazing food.
Normally, we would be sceptical of these types of concepts. Rave culture doesn’t easily get appropriated, and brands showing up almost always seem desperate. But this was a great example of how a brand connects and amplifies underground music culture in a way that doesn’t feel contrived. Success is dependent on a symbiotic relationship, where the artists, the culture and the brand all benefit. And that’s what happened here.
EDM Wellbeing Escapes – Irina Dimitriade, Associate Director
For the metal-head in me, dance music has always been something that other people did. Until ADE 2022. There were so many amazing things about it, like seeing an entire city come together into a giant party for five days and nights. But what really did it for me was discovering EDM as an instrument for wellbeing.
ADE is a great reflection of how electronic dance music is expanding and becoming a holistic instrument for inner peace. It started with Mark to the Music, a mindful art experience at the Museum van de Geest (aka Museum of the Mind). Here, Jolien Pusthumus, a neuro-sensitive mindfulness trainer, guided us into a deep meditative journey while we created art to the amazing atmospheric beats of DJ Marcelle.
This journey continued with Reflections – a live music and meditation experience at Delight Yoga, one of the most beautiful studios in the city. For one long hour, the voice of Kat Pither from Yogi Bare and the live electronic music of Jesse Marcella guided us into a deep meditative state. The sense of expansion I felt when I woke up was out of this world!
And finally, my journey ended with a complete let-go at Nxt Museum x Transmoderna AiR, immersed in audiovisual dance culture, with sounds, pixels and NFTs. I never expected that an intimate escape into my own mind in museums and yoga studios would actually lead me towards a new tribe.
Creative Curations – Eleanor Bickers, Cultural Strategist
Located at the old military base Het Hem in Zaandam, this industrial backdrop was the ideal place to find an exhibition about the history of rave. Here it felt like we were lost in a radical alternative to contemporary society. It was reminiscent of trying to find a rave – getting lost in the tree-lined routes that snaked around the outdoor event, and all seeking out a collective experience.
With this type of energy, the exhibition had begun before we had even arrived. As cultural researchers, it was a highly interesting and immersive route into an event. Inside the old bullet factory, Sweet Harmony: Out of the Underground told the story of the history of the Dutch rave scene in the eighties and nineties, with contemporary perspectives of queer techno politics and resistance.
It explored the idea that rave culture shouldn’t (just) be romanticised, as it’s a complex ecosystem of liberation, togetherness, and unmediated human interaction. We were encouraged to select our own path through the exhibition. The event curation kept us on our toes – such as with the absence of lengthy descriptions. Rave culture may have been talked about many times before, but the experiential nature of Sweet Harmony helped us look at it with a fresh narrative.
As part of our ongoing commitment to workplace diversity, we’re partnering with the 10,000 Black Interns initiative…
As a global agency with offices in seven cities, working at the intersection of brands and culture, people – and all their many, wonderful, kaleidoscopic backgrounds – form our foundations. Diversity, therefore, is a huge part of what we do, and what we stand for as a team.
But we’re aware of our limitations. Building a truly diverse company is something we constantly have to work at – and sometimes we have to call in help from elsewhere.
That’s why we’re excited to partner with 10,000 Black Interns, a charity dedicated to creating opportunities for underrepresented young Black talent talent. We’ll be joining a line up of businesses promising to cumulatively hire 10,000 Black interns amid a push to improve the diversity of the UK’s professional industries. Last year, 70 percent of the applicants said they wouldn’t have received an internship if it hadn’t been for the programme.
Our partnership with 10,000 Black Interns means we will be offering three paid intern opportunities in 2023 through our Culture Club programme (a significant number of Culture Clubbers go on to permanent roles at Crowd DNA). If this is something that interests you, head here to apply. And please share this news with anyone else who might want to hear about it.
You can read more about 10,000 Black Interns here; our own internship scheme, Culture Club, here and our commitment to the MRS Pledge here.
Hello Los Angeles. We're so happy to be opening there today and Crowd DNA founder/CEO Andy Crysell explains why...
It’s a proud and exciting day at Crowd DNA today, as we lift the curtain on our seventh office. This time our adventures take us to Los Angeles and we’re delighted to welcome on board David Stewart as our head of agency.
Why Los Angeles? Well, first up, why anywhere? We could do much of the global work that we do just from London, our original base. But we know we create a more compelling and human business by being about more than that. By placing ourselves closer to people and to the source of culture. We are more interesting for our clients and we bring together a more interesting team, too; one with broader perspectives, reference points and stories to tell.
London, Amsterdam, New York City, Singapore, Sydney, Stockholm – we’re proud of our leadership and of our teams in each of these locations. The mind-blowingly good work they create, the purposeful collaboration between them, and just how passionately they all dive into the inherent messiness of our culturally charged commercial advantage ethos. They have made Crowd DNA so very much more energized and thrilling than anything I could’ve cooked up just from London alone.
Yeah, but why Los Angeles? It’s a fascinating place – its origin story through to the distinct sub-cultures it’s created. My first visit was in 1997. I was there, as a journalist, to interview Wu-Tang Clan (who’d decamped to the city in the hope of getting their album finished) and, within three hours of me landing, what became known as the Real Heat (as in the movie) Bank Robbery kicked off, with the sky full of smoke and helicopters, and wall to wall coverage across every TV channel.
I’ve been back multiple times since – sometimes for a day or two, sometimes working there for four or five weeks. No other bank robberies of note, but it really is a place that gets under your skin. Some people from the UK and Europe get kind of sniffy about Los Angeles, thinking it soulless or center-less. I think it’s a place of limitless possibilities. Fabulous communities and people making new things happen, often from scratch. Los Angeles has its own kind of creativity.
We expect the briefs that Crowd DNA Los Angeles receives to be as varied – and amazing – as across our other offices. But we are particularly excited about the opportunities we will have here to dive deeper into the future of entertainment, a space that’s always been strong in our work. Web3, fandom, platform disruption, game-changing new content and ever more immersive experiences. So much of this is of interest to our clients (both in media/tech, and across other categories) and we’re keen to get closer to it all in Los Angeles.
Why David Stewart? We’ve had some fantastic conversations with David over the last couple of months and we can tell that he cares about the right stuff, the important stuff – both in the work and in our culture. His brilliant experience at agencies such as Kelton, Coherency and Jigsaw International helps too. We think he’ll be a wonderful addition to our senior team and we can’t wait to get to know him better.
And if you’d like to get to know him better, you could always check the Los Angeles openings on our careers page. We’re looking forward to now building out our team there.
Download a copy of our Local Love In APAC report - produced in partnership with our KIN network
Part of our KIN Connects series, Local Love In APAC is a project from our Singapore and Sydney teams that illuminates an interesting cultural tension in the region – a kind of cognitive dissonance between the inescapable desire to be citizens of the world and an innate sense of place, connection and pride in localism.
Working with contributors from KIN, our network of creators and connectors, based in China, South Korea, India, Indonesia, and Singapore, we’ve identified three emerging shifts within this new wave of Asian representation.
Shift 1: (From) Homogenised cultural ideals → (To) Remix culture
Crowd Labs, Crowd DNA’s training programme, has evolved over the years, supporting our team to hone their craft at delivering culturally charged commercial advantage for our amazing clients. Laura Warby explains…
One of the things we’re proud of at Crowd is our learning culture, where we celebrate curiosity, nurture open-mindedness and critical thinking. We’re lucky to have an ambitious team that embodies this mind-set, a team that takes personal and professional growth as seriously as we do. So it’s only fitting that we have a training programme – Crowd Labs – to match.
The format of our training is varied, encompassing more formal sessions, as well as learning-on-the-job. A large proportion of it is delivered by in-house experts. Within our team there exists hundreds of years of experience across a dizzying array of skill-sets. From researchers to strategists, PhD doctors to journalists, creative storytellers to project managers and everything in between.
There’s no-one better equipped than our team to deliver our core capabilities training – they know their trade, they know Crowd, and they know our people. We don’t stop there, though. Where we think we can add an extra sprinkle of inspiration, we’ll invite external speakers to mix it up.
As we get stuck in to 2022, we’ve already had some brilliant sessions:
Group managing director, Matilda, kicked the year off with her Nailing Client Management training – an interactive session where she shared some words of wisdom about how to build trusted partnerships with our clients, leveraging her 10 years of experience client-side before she moved into the agency world.
MD of our APAC offices, Elyse, talked us through Getting Analysis Right – addressing tensions like ‘analysis paralysis’ when faced with huge quantities of unstructured data, and offering solutions for a more methodical, unbiased approach to making sense of it all and arriving at focused and critical strategic thinking.
Our head of people, Alex, recently delivered a session on The Art of Giving & Receiving Feedback – an incredibly important skill-set but also one that’s difficult to get right. Too soft – you might not recognise it’s being given. Too direct – you run the risk of causing defensiveness, ultimately losing impact. Alex helped us with some practical formulas and tips and tricks to ensure it lands in the right way – be it day-to-day or via annual reviews.
Finally, our first guest speaker of the year was author, distinguished toastmaster, communication coach and founder of Now You’re Talking, Lyn Roseaman, who ran a series of masterclasses & workshops around Presentation Skills. Having previously worked in the insight world for over 30 years, Lyn was able to tailor sessions perfectly to fit our teams’ levels and needs, giving us expert guidance and practical techniques for landing our work with greater confidence and impact.
With a pipeline of other exciting training sessions already in the diary, we’re looking forward to continuing our strong start to Crowd Labs 2022. Our sights are set on building a best-in-class training programme that helps our team attain a unique and competitive skill-set, one that nurtures both professional and personal growth.