New Summer. New City.

In summer 2012 I’ll be brand tracking in London and Barcelona. Check out the link if you’d like to learn more. Hope to see you this summer.




1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Farewell Friends

Farewell London. Rozloučení Prague.

Farewell to new colleagues I have met and friends we have made.

Each city inspired us to see the world through a new lense. Together we opened our ethnographers’ eyes to new cultures and began to see how brands move across cultures. The truth is, I could only guess at how this class would unfold. I had a plan and a lot of industry contacts. But, blending two universities and 15 people (who didn’t know one another) and dropping them into foreign lands was not a sure bet for success. It was, however, an assured adventure. And what an adventure it turned out to be.

Together we immersed ourselves into worlds unknown, opened our sense to unfamiliar cultures in search of their unique cultural codes for autos, beer and fashion. My students were like sponges and I ran them ragged. We traversed each city moving from ad agencies, to neighborhoods, and then on to shopping malls and auto dealers, often ending up at pubs. We attended classical concerts, visited museums, and walked historical streets. In short we were students of culture. To see the cultural codes they determined for each sector, check the comments below or their sector links. Enjoy!

To my students I say, it was a privilege to be your teacher and to learn side by side.

To my gracious colleagues, a heartfelt thank you.



Filed under Branding, Ethnography

Ahoj, Beautiful Prague!

Today we concluded our ethnographic brand tracking in Prague. After one week of ethnography and agency visits, we spent the last afternoon of our class reflecting on Czech culture, and more specifically, how it influences the consumption of autos, beer and fashion. After a lot of deliberation, the three groups came up with culture codes that they think best represent their respective sectors here in the Czech Republic. Check out each of the three culture codes within the sector blogs:  autos, beer, fashion.

The ethnographic brand tracking helped the students to observe behavior and identify key patterns within their sector. The agency visits throughout the week helped the students to uncover the cultural meaning behind these observed behaviors within a historical context and learn about some of the successful strategies behind Czech advertising from the best that Prague has to offer: Remmark, Garp, Leagas Delaney, and Ogilvy.

As part of the final wrap up, the students also had a discussion about Czech advertising in general. With the help of Jan Tluchor, who joined us from the University of West Bohemia, the students compared and contrasted Czech advertising with British and American advertising.

Overall, it was an inspiring week. Everyone acted like true ethnographers and soaked up everything Czech culture had to offer. Most importantly, the students kept their minds open and embraced all of the different perspectives we learned about – something that will positively influence the approach they take with future work. Our sincerest děkuji to everyone along the way who helped to make our experience here in Prague so meaningful.


Leave a comment

Filed under Autos, Beer, Branding, Ethnographic Findings, Ethnography, Fashion, Teaching

Czech Cultural Collage

To conclude our time spent in the beautiful Czech Republic, we made a cultural collage with contributions from each student. Each item represents some aspect of the student’s experience here in Prague – none of which could be purchased. Each student’s interpretation of the collage is posted below in the comments section in the form of a headline.



Filed under Teaching, Travel

Red & White

From the moment we saw the red and white building with the “Ogilvy” logo splashed across the exterior walls, we knew that we were about to have a fascinating experience at an agency that carries one of the industry’s most respected names. The Ogilvy Action presentation started with an overview of the agency’s “Four Core” model (including Ogilvy & Mather Perception, ONE Information, Action Behavior, and PR Influence) that is used to manage about 30 global brands at any given time. The students were then able to see the work in action with the examples of eight different case studies, presented by Mr. Michal Charvat, the General Director. After a short break to explore the open and stylish office, complete with a full café, and a chance to review some of the agency’s award-winning work, the students had an opportunity to hear from Tomas, one of the three account planners in the office. Tomas shared insight into Czech culture through the lens of history, focusing on how Czech cultural history affects the mindsets of consumers today. Then the students had the great fortune of having Tomas facilitate a mini brainstorming session based on the students ethnographic work for their respective market sectors (autos, beer, fashion). It was magical!

As we were leaving, I shared with Michal the sensory ethnographic exercises I had the students participate in on Parizska Street. He loved them! That led to an extended discussion on the role these exercises, and sensory ethnography in general, can and should play in understanding consumers and overall brand development.

Thanks for the inspiration!


Leave a comment

Filed under Autos, Beer, Branding, Ethnography, Fashion

Simply Clever.

Any good advertising professional knows that having a firsthand experience with the product or service is essential to the creative process. The more you know, the better. What better way to experience a product than to witness how it’s made and learn about its history? Thanks to the generosity of Thorsten Jux, Managing Director, Leagas Delaney-Prague, our students were able to do just that.

On Tuesday afternoon we ventured to Mlada Boleslav about an hour Northeast of Prague. There we toured the Skoda factory and museum, accompanied by Lucie, one of the newest Account Managers at Leagas Delaney. It was a great opportunity for everyone to experience an important part of the research process. It was also just plain old fascinating to see the process of how a car is produced from beginning to end.

From beginning to end, it takes 25 hours of physical, human labor to make one car. Aside from the production aspects, it was fascinating to see how the Skoda brand is communicated across all touch points within the factory and museum. In addition to giving us the logistical information behind car manufacturing, our tour guides also made sure to provide us with a sense of what work life is like for the Skoda factory employees – including an overview of some benefits like higher pay than most Czech factories, more vacation time (five weeks) and maternity leave (six months paid at 80 percent and up to four years off with a guaranteed job, though not necessarily the same one), and free university classes (at a school founded by Skoda). The brand experience concluded with a guided tour through the museum, which showcased the history of Skoda bicycles, motorbikes and, of course, cars. It was an insightful brand experience and a captivating way to contextualize Czech history.

So, what were the main takeaways of the Skoda factory tour? First, it was important from a humanistic standpoint to have a reminder of the physical labor and remarkable logistical acumen that goes into producing the products we sometimes take for granted. Second, it was an opportunity for students to take what they experienced at the factory and translate it into an advertising framework. That’s where Thorsten Jux, Managing Director of Leagas Delaney-Prague stepped in.

Thorsten’s presentation as deep dive into the nuances of global branding, within the context of the Skoda brand and its mother company Volkswagen. His detailed discussion about how the brand lives in a global marketplace, yet subtly reflects a Czech sensibility was a worms-eye view into the intricacies of global brand management. In short it’s about “Substance in the age of the one-second brand. The brand in one second.”  Skoda. Simply Clever.

Jean & Amanda

Leave a comment

Filed under Autos, Branding

Slavia Café

How much lovely can it be than to sit at Slavia Café, on my last afternoon in Prague?

Slavia Café, across from the National Theatre with its art deco furniture and beautiful murals, is nearly magical. Add to that a magnificent view of Prague castle, intelligent conversation, apple strudel, and delightful companionship and a gray afternoon melted away.

There could be no better way to spend my last afternoon in Prague.

Děkuji Ladislav.


Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching