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What we believe

Cultureplay believes that all brands derive value through their interplay with contemporary culture. Consumers buy brands for their cultural and symbolic meanings. Likewise stakeholders and employees engage with corporations because they resonate with contemporary needs and perspectives.

The evolution of many enduring brands over the last two decades (think Apple, Macdonalds) is testament to the real power of culture to shape brands and corporations.

But this crucial need for ‘cultural sync’ can be overlooked. The cultural drivers of our consumer behaviours and beliefs are easily missed. This is because they are deeply embedded, hard wired and encoded in shared systems of meaning that shortcut the need for conscious expression, or analysis.

We think it is important to recalibrate research to focus more on these cultural and symbolic dimensions of our thoughts and actions as consumers.


How we work

We work to three key principles.

1. Re-framing the question

The questions we ask of brands, consumers and corporations are different from other brand or research agencies. We ask – how can we make better use of contemporary culture to create inspiring connections between brands and people?

To illustrate:

  • “Our brand is flagging and is losing out to competitors.”
  • Cultureplay asks: Who or what are the brand’s cultural sources of meaning? What cultural space do competitors control? How can we use language, image and symbolism to launch into new cultural spaces?
  • “How do we keep on top of what our customers really want from us?”
  • Cultureplay asks: Who are our customer segments, culturally speaking? How can we better understand our customers' cultural worlds and speak so that they really hear what we are saying?
  • “Our corporate brand is losing stakeholder support.”
  • Cultureplay asks: How is culture shifting around expectations of big companies' behaviour in relation to sourcing, managing and distributing resources?
  • “Our employees are disengaged and resentful of change.”
  • Cultureplay asks: How do the corporate brand, workplace and community cultural expectations impact on employee expectations of the contemporary corporation?

2. Kinetic thinking

Cultureplay harnesses energy for brands by joining the dots in a different way.

We recognise that consumers or stakeholders do not simply receive brand meanings - they actively create their own meanings based on the contemporary culture they inhabit. Cultureplay assesses consumer-derived insights against the dynamic backdrop of contemporary culture. This kinetic thinking creates Culture IQ© for a more sustainable and relevant consumer, corporate or social brand.

3. Directional outputs

Cultureplay delivers client outputs that are grounded in comprehensive, textured and broad based evidence. We overlay this with outcome-focussed strategy to allow cultural metrics to live alongside other key performance indicators for the brand or corporation.

What we do

Cultureplay uses research and analysis to connect brands with culture. We:

  • Explore consumers' cultural worlds - reveal the deep drivers of consumer behaviour that create relationships with brands
  • Decode the brand's cultural context - understand the cultural and symbolic meanings that shape the category
  • Illuminate the broader cultural narratives - discover meanings from outside the category which allow brands to tell a bigger story

Cultureplay provides the following services:

  • Brand strategy
  • Brand narrative & revitalisation
  • Brand concept development
  • Naming and identity
  • Cultural environment scanning
  • Cultural intelligence and risk
  • Competitor analysis
  • Corporate anthropology
  • Cultural market segmentation
  • Innovation and emergent culture

Cultureplay uses a combination of approaches including:

Cultural Analysis

This incorporates a systematic analysis of contemporary culture including traditional media, social media, image, film, literature, music, design and advertising to reveal the broader symbolic and cultural narratives which provide the bigger stories for brands. We also speak to experts and mavens about current and emergent culture.

Consumer Research

We are qualitative research specialists and focus on ethnographic and other contextualising approaches which place individuals within their socio-cultural reference points. We place a particular emphasis on cultural insights consumers can provide us.

Semiotics & Discourse Analysis

We are experts in semiotic and discourse analysis of ‘texts’ - anything from social media to conversations, focus groups, in-depth interviews, employee communications, brand symbols, advertising imagery and packaging - to understand the cultural context of brands and in turn how brands can better utilise these symbolic meanings. We reveal how individuals interpret brands at the critical level of symbols, words, and images.

Communication Analysis

We use deep metaphor analysis and other tools to understand relationships with brands at a deeper level. Based on in-depth interview techniques, image and text analysis, we identify the bigger cultural metaphors for brands and corporations.

Corporate Anthropology

We analyse workplace and corporate cultures, and undertake cultural audits to ensure internal culture is aligned with corporate vision.

Training & Facilitation

Training: We provide training and development to drive contemporary culture into the brand and corporation. We work with Brand, Marketing, HR and Executive teams to develop the right cultural strategy for their needs.

Facilitation: We provide specialist support to extract cultural intelligence from existing market research data to build a cultural frame of reference and direction for brands and corporations.

Who we are

Cultureplay has been built on our many years of consumer research experience. We like to work collaboratively on client projects with a range of specialists including graphic designers, artists and photographers, semioticians, advertising and research agencies, and industry experts. We are experienced in many industry sectors, and have worked with Boards and Executive teams on brand strategy. Our clients have included CHOICE, The University Of Western Australia, Landcorp, Job Futures Ltd, Reckitt Benckiser, Bristol Myers-Squibb, Bankwest, Masterfoods and Toyota.

Cultureplay’s principal consultant is:

Julie Cole - Director

(MA, M.Phil Cantab)

Julie’s recognition of the commercial power of culture has been building though a lifetime of professional experience as a qualitative researcher.

Julie was formerly a Director of Synovate Australia (previously Market Equity) for 12 years and the National Director of Synovate’s qualitative research division. In her most recent role she was responsible for establishing Synovate’s global semiotic capability. While at Synovate Julie undertook cultural analysis projects for Reckitt Benckiser (UK), Unilever, Bristol Myers Squibb (US), Bankwest, Masterfood, Study in Australia and the British Council (UK).

Julie studied Anthropology at King’s College, Cambridge (1986 and 1992) and is a Member of the UK Market Research Society.



PO Box 6214
Swanbourne, Perth
Western Australia 6010
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w www.cultureplay.com.au

t (+61) 0417 318 361