Gothic Churches and Retail Displays

The art of the merchandising display is the focus this week at the Global Shop conference in Las Vegas. There are giant bottles of Knob Creek, Zombie Baby Dolls, hair care products, lottery ticket dispensers and an unimaginable host of other products. Some of it is terrific, some of it is terrible and most of […]

What Insights Come From Your Toilet? Good Ones.

I am in Las Vegas this week as a judge for the OMA Awards. One would think my eyes and ears would be riveted to signs and displays. Outside the Global Shop Expo, I should be focusing my anthropological heart and mind on gambling, the spatial layout of the resort/casinos, the press of human life […]

St. Patrick’s Day Approaches, es hora de divertirse

Soon, another year will have passed away and the first unofficial rite of spring will be upon us.  I speak of St. Patrick’s Day. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has a pull as strong as gravity for the residents and spectators in any city.  Kansas City.  It has the usual high school marching bands and […]

Man The Hunter and Other Shopping Myths

In 1966 Richard Lee and Irven DeVore hosted a symposium titled “Man the Hunter.” The symposium resulted in a book of the same title and attempted to bring together for the first time a comprehensive look at recent ethnographic research on hunter gatherers. The concepts that came out of the work (and work by archaeologists) […]

Food, Blood and Marketing

Package it, slap a label on it and sell it for $4.99 a pound. It’s as simple as that when you’re selling groceries, right? Hardly. Food, meat in particular, is tied to cultural sensibilities about production, cleanliness, family values and a host of other topics. Meat, like Norman Rockwell images of the American farm, is myth. […]

Marketing More Than Features: Windows to the Soul

We spend an awful lot of time marketing features to individuals; neat little segments that correspond to the demographic data we glean from surveys and similar devices.  We talk about features, function and material benefits. The catch is that people work, live and think in terms of a socio-cultural system. That means they are frequently […]

Smoke Signals: Information in an Age of Selective Bias

In the quest to connect every citizen of earth and expand the ideal of the Renaissance Man that we’ve held so dear since time immemorial, (which was allegedly sometime in the 1500’s) we’ve instead reverted to a tribal method of information consumption that shrinks our individual perspective and is creating a fragmented and myopic population. […]

Anecdotes vs. Insights: Analysis Matters

Why does a world-class chef eat Spam? Why does a man in his late twenties, making over half a million dollars a year, choose to be “poor” on the weekends? And most important, why does it matter to a business? It is important, quite simply, because understanding the deep, resounding issues, practices, and beliefs of […]

Myth Cycles and the Ad

Mythology is perhaps the most archaic and profound record we have of our collective spirit. It creates and defines our experiences. From the inception of cave art, and presumably long before that, we find myth and myth-making as a fundamental element in relating to the mysteries of life, the cosmos and the world around us. […]

Using Old Studies to Articulate Ethnographic Insight

I was cleaning out folders yesterday and came across al old study that reminded me why it is important to return to our work.  In addition to shedding light on existing problems and theories, it reminded me that they serve as marvelous tools to demonstrate what it is we do, both in terms of fieldwork […]