Welcoming Yuka & Dunstan

Introducing two exciting new senior hires to our team...

We’re delighted to confirm two new appointments to our London team, both pointing to our focus on adding to the senior level expertise we can offer our clients.

Yuka Uchijima joins as a strategic insights director. Previously, Yuka spent five years as a cultural and brand strategist in Flamingo’s Tokyo office, before moving to London, first leading the Flamingo Group’s media collective team, before joining innovation start-up Kitchen8.

“Crowd DNA has always been at the forefront of offering innovative and unique ways of engaging in and understanding culture – and this reflects in the diverse makeup and hugely talented team here,” says Yuka. “It’s such an exciting time for the business and I’m thrilled to be a part of it and to get stuck in.”

Dunstan Kornicki also joins as a strategic insights director. Dunstan was formerly client director at Flamingo London, and, prior to that, managing director at Flamingo Mumbai.

“It’s great to be joining Crowd DNA at such an exciting time, as the company expands globally,” says Dunstan. “It is more important than ever for brands to root their strategies and growth in a comprehensive understanding of, and immersion in, culture and people’s lives. I’m really looking forward to getting started with our clients.”

Australia here we come!

Hot on the heels of our 2018 opening in Singapore, we’re excited to be launching Crowd DNA in Sydney in July 2019.

With our first Australia-side clients already on board, Elyse Pigram, who’s done such great work as one of our strategic insights directors in London, is heading back to Sydney to head up the launch. We’re also in the process of recruiting for additional hires in the city.

Crowd DNA founder Andy Crysell: “We’re excited to be testing ourselves in a new city, ensuring our passion for the cultural relevance of brands gains traction in Australia. And after so much great work in our London office, where she’ll be much missed, we’re extremely confident Elyse is a perfect fit for taking charge of this launch – combining her understanding of Crowd DNA with fantastic industry knowledge of her native Australia.”

Elyse Pigram: “I’m really excited at the opportunity to launch Crowd DNA in Australia. What drew me to Crowd in the first place was its culture-first positioning; its mission to help brands understand – and leverage – the intersection between consumer behaviour and broader culture, and I’m really happy to be bringing that to my home market.”

If you’d like to find out more about Crowd DNA in Sydney, do get in touch with Elyse Pigram or Crowd DNA group managing director, Andy Crysell.

We're looking for a smart and energetic new addition to our London semiotics team...

This is a great opportunity for someone with two-to-five years experience to join our highly skilled and motivated team, working from our Hoxton Square base camp. You’ll benefit from collaborating with two senior semioticians, and get to work on exciting briefs across categories such as alcohol, finance, apparel, media and more – in the last year, our semiotics work has taken in craft beer, skate culture, the aesthetics of hiking, mobility, news in Africa and new codes of luxury.

We’re looking for someone who can point to semiotics experience in a commercial environment (insight, advertising etc); who’s presented their work to clients and demonstrates an understanding of different briefs; and who can back up their work with solid rigour.

Better still, you’ll have experience of integrating your semiotics work with trends, expert perspectives and qualitative findings; and a sense of how best to ensure the relevancy of your work across different global regions (you’ll get the chance to work regularly with our offices in other cities).

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.

 

We're seeking skilled, passionate, culturally switched on additions to our team...

After a successful launch period – including cross-APAC projects in the apparel, tech and travel sectors, and some great content/thought leadership initiatives – we’re looking to grow our Singapore team. There’s some flexibility in how we go about this – hence advertising for mid to senior level hires.

The specifics of the role will, of course, be shaped further by your level of experience but, broadly, we’re looking for new additions who –

+ Come armed with the entrepreneurial spirit to work in a business that’s still in start-up mode in Singapore (though of course with the  support of more established offices in other cities to lean on)

+ Tuned in to Crowd DNA’s devoutly cultural perspective on insight and strategy work, and passionate about furthering that cause

+ Skilled at running or playing a lead role on projects in the insight and strategy field – from initial design through to execution

+ Comfortable at building strong client relationships, be that in the course of projects, or through business development

+ Content-oriented – strong writing skills and an enthusiasm for collaborating with designers, videographers and journalists as much as researchers and strategists

+ Strong APAC experience and cultural understanding

+ Excited by the idea of collaborating with our other offices

To discuss further, please get in touch with a CV (+ any other info, content, portfolio material or similar that you think we ought to see!).

Our next Rise breakfast event explores the mutant ways of Gen Z (think part millennial, part boomer)...

Date: May 9

Time: 8.15am-9am

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

Denoting those born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is a hot topic right now (whatever your view on cohort-based strategies). But what do we know about those who today are aged seven to 22-years-old? For starters, that they march to the beat of their own drum, at the same time as carrying a curious mix of traits from cohorts gone before them. It’s even been said that they could be the new boomers…

In this session, Crowd DNA director Elyse Pigram and associate director Berny McManus will get to grips with this hybrid generation, exploring what gets them up in the morning and where they’re going next. We’ll look at how they’re the first children born with the internet already in existence, and have been exposed to financial and political instability throughout their lives.

We’ll unpick how sometimes their values align with boomers (think approaches to money), while, simultaneously, their behaviours are an escalation of millennial entrepreneurialism (social media is their marketplace). And then, crucially, we’ll assess what this all means for our clients’ future strategies in the lifestages Gen Z are yet to face – from parenthood to home ownership and beyond…

For coffees, croissants and next-gen insights, please fill out this form or contact rise@crowdDNA.com for an invite. And feel free to pass this invite on to any colleagues who want to get Z-ready, too.

We're seeking someone for our NYC office who's keen to work at the intersection of brands and culture...

We’re excited to be growing our New York office, bringing on more clients and new briefs. This means we need new recruits, too. Specifically, an associate director to join our team based on Grand Street, in SoHo.

Reporting to our US director, you’ll get to work on hugely motivating projects for brands such as Spotify, Vans and Viacom. You will also support with business development, responding to briefs, designing projects, briefing in new commissions to the project teams and maintaining a strategic overview on live work. You’ll be an important part of a super smart and hugely creative global business, keen to forge new ways of working in the cultural insights and strategy field.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

– You will need the confidence and necessary experience to take the controls of complex multi-market projects

– And to do so in a way that gets the best out of the wider project team, ensuring we are diligent and creative in equal measure

– Yes, you’re insightful and culturally aware, but you have a commercial brain, too; if you can show previous experience in something business development-related, that’s a plus

– An understanding of the type of brands and challenges that Crowd DNA gets involved with (look around this website if you need more of an idea) is important, as is evidence of how you’ve met business challenges in the past

– Showing you are capable of gaining the trust of senior clients is key

– We anticipate this role going to someone who relishes the fact that the world of research is fast changing, and that factors such as strategic thinking, stakeholder engagement, storytelling and cultural understanding are key to the future

We can promise a competitive salary and the opportunity to travel, working on future-facing projects in collaboration with an extremely gifted team. The associate director role will allow you to develop fast in a high energy business. To apply for this role, please get in touch with a copy of your resume and an example of written work.

Our first Rise event of 2019 kicked off with a myth-busting, how-to presentation on working with leading edge audiences. Get the inside track below…

You can download our Leading Edge report here.


At the end of February, Crowd DNA’s managing director Matilda Andersson and senior consultant Roberta Graham talked about how leading edge consumers can take insight projects into fresh spaces and new ways of thinking. Setting out by asking whether the leading edge can help predict what’s next (spoiler: yes it can), Matilda began answering by tackling the common fears and misconceptions associated with this methodology.

She quickly established that these participants are not only the cool kids, hipsters and early tech adopters, but instead display a core set of attitudes (self belief, optimism, openness, collaboration, network-orientated, critical thinking) and behaviours (consultative, creativity, curiosity, go-getting, persistence). Matilda also emphasised that it’s these behaviours that set them apart from the mainstream – rather than cosmetic factors like their job or their sense of style.

So, how do you find leading edgers if you’re looking for these (sometimes hard-to-spot) behaviours? Matilda highlighted that the concept of leading edge is relative to the brief and the category, and that’s where you can get specific about what you want and need. Roberta then explained how less conventional recruitment methods can help clients get to the best people that fit those criteria. Street casting, Instagram ads and hashtag analysis can all offer effective routes to cultural gatekeepers, ready to give new and interesting perspectives. Leading edge methodology is all about the power of the (right) one, able to speak on behalf of many.

But, the most important thing to remember when working with leading edgers is collaboration. These consumers are people genuinely interested in shaping culture – talking to them as participants rather than respondents can lead to massively insightful concepts. Co-creating, giving them ownership and immersing yourself in their lives and their views lets you get inside their world. It might even answer questions you didn’t know you had. It’s also important to look for weak signals, from which you can build strong signs and forecasts by rooting those signals in wider culture – leading edgers often offer up more abstract ideas that can lead to bigger thinking. Roberta explained that adding a semiotic lens in this way means that you can question where leading edge behaviours sit within current cultural trajectories, defining which may have longevity and which behaviours are unlikely to make it to the mainstream.

Lastly, Matilda pointed out that even when leading edge behaviour doesn’t make it to the mainstream, it can still give us valuable clues – we just have to look beyond the obvious. Leading edge strategies can appeal to a mainstream mass market in an aspirational sense – people want to buy into brands that are relevant and ahead of the curve.

Matilda and Roberta left us with three key takeouts for using the leading edge effectively:

– Ask yourself whether the behaviour is rooted to current human tensions or needs to assess whether it will enter the mainstream

– Establish whether you want to focus on identifying fast culture (ie fads) or slow culture rooted in our values and societal codes (rituals). Then ladder these behaviours back to what’s happening in a wider context to spot bigger shifts on the horizon

– Decide whether you’re looking at global futures or local realities. Not all ideas flow in the same direction, some trickle out across geographical borders, but others don’t – and this will affect who you talk to, and how you translate your findings into strategies

 

We’ve been moving on our How To Speak (Wo)Man work recently, with Crowd DNA’s Elyse Pigram and Joey Zeelen sharing it with clients. One of the key themes: whether we should even be talking about binary expressions of gender in the first place…

This is not the first time we’ve talked about how brands can address gender (in fact, we’re doing it again soon in Singapore), but we’re finding good sense in combining both of our presentations on the topic to deliver a holistic view on ensuring brand messaging rings true. 

First, Elyse has been looking at femininity today, exploring why it is that women still don’t feel represented by brands. This part of the presentation uses a simple Jungian framework of female archetypes traditionally perpetuated in media and culture, of ‘the innocent’, ‘lover’ and ‘caregiver’. The examples from brands of childlike playfulness, domesticated housewives, and barely-dressed women provide evidence of how not to speak to today’s woman.

Moving into the present, Elyse shows that there’s no longer just one archetype – or stereotype-fits-all. Women are seeking to reclaim their identity, in all its varying forms, which means reframing and rethinking the way womanhood is represented to make it more diverse, inclusive and strong. Women as the ‘everywoman’ (think Dove’s Real Beauty, HBO’s Girls), ‘heroes’ (think Always’ Like A Girl, Beyonce, the latest Wonder Woman films), ‘rebels’ and ‘creators’ are the key archetypes to focus on and offer brands direction on how to be relevant and representational.

This shift in female narratives has been boosted by cultural movements such as #MeToo, better trans visibility and open discussion changing the conversation around what it means to be a woman in 2019. Now more than ever, there is a sense of urgency for brands to get it right in the ways they express themselves to the modern woman. Elyse emphasised that this succeeds through brands sharing the fluid and varied experiences of women. (You can download our How To Speak Woman report here.)

Having established that approaches to female identity are changing across society, media and advertising, Joey then looks at how the land lies for masculinity – what does it mean to be a man in 2019? Over the last couple of years, a lot has changed (you can take a look at our 2017 research here to see how things have moved on). Gender is becoming more fluid and non-binary, and masculinity more individual.

We see men speaking more freely about their feelings (Prince Harry tackling mental health), and turning their backs on traditional ideas of what it is to be a man. Mainstream media – such as Beautiful Boy and McCain’s We Are Family ads – has been disrupting ideas of nuclear families and father roles have been represented to be more playful and emotional. But amidst all this, there is still a long way to go. With much talk swirling around of ‘masculinity in crisis’,  Joey identifies three main tensions that need to be addressed by brands:

1. Toxic masculinitystill being peddled by cultural figures such as Donald Trump and Piers Morgan

2. Wellbeing and mental health – male suicide remains the biggest killer of young men in many Western societies

3. How to align feminism and progress masculinity – how can men be authentically supportive and work out their place in propelling the cause forward?

While we’re still figuring out the definition of being a man, brands need to keep opening up the conversation and (as with femininity) challenging stereotypes.

To finish, Joey and Elyse summed up the key takeouts for brands and what this all means for how to speak (wo)man:

– We need to recognise that femininity is all about individuality and celebrating difference

– We need to keep working to define and shape new expressions of masculinity that are nuanced and empathetic – and not binary

– Brands need to walk the talk, and back up their messaging with credible action

– Let’s celebrate and harness male goodwill towards female progress

– Consider producing products that don’t have a  gender – try talking to men and women as one

– Take male relationships out of the locker room, and nurture closer connection

– Talk to your audience, not about them. By engaging people with different experiences, and expressions of gender, we can better express and represent them

If you would like us to come and talk to your company about expressions of gender in modern day culture, please email us at hello@crowdDNA.com