Category Archives: Branding

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.


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

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!


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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

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Filed under Autos, Branding

Prague Spring

Czech advertising has been on fast-forward since the Velvet Revolution of 1989. In the ensuing 20 years Czech advertising proved to mirror the rush to embrace western ideals while holding fast to Czech heritage. With skepticism abound that was no easy task.

To learn just how challenging a task it was we spent Friday morning with two giants from those early years:  Ladislav Kopecky and Jiri Mikes. Both were at the forefront of bringing western style branding into the Czech marketplace. In those early years Kopecky created a documentary tracking the evolution of the Czech Republic to a free market. From 1994-98, he served at Director of Lintas, Prague. Mikes founded the Prague office of McCann-Erickson in 1989 and later work as a global consultant to the Czech government. Together, while working at McCann, they won an Effie for their work on Hami.

They shared their passion for advertising through historical case studies that illustrated the importance of cultural branding — branding that respects the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances of culture. Kopecky enlightened us with the back-story of a highly skeptical Czech consumer thrust into a free market economy. Mikes inspired us with a presentation on sustainability and the absolutely essential role that corporate social responsibility must play in the future.

Today they share their wisdom with a new generation of Czech advertising and marketing students — and a few very lucky students who visit from aboard. Kopecky is affiliated with with Charles University, while Mikes is with the University of Economics.

Our wonderful hosts Vice-Dean Vaclav Kaspar and Premysl Prusa from the University of Economics made us feel most welcome. Prusa presented his research on wine retailing in the Czech Republic, as we sampled the topic at hand. And after a meeting with Vice–Dean Kaspar it’s clear that richer opportunities lie ahead for our two institutions.

And so, to my Czech colleagues in this lovely Prague spring I say, “děkuji”


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Filed under Branding, Teaching

British Breakfast

…at one of London’s hottest shops.  Friday we visited Euro RSCG. And what a visit it was. Gareth Davies and his team introduced us to rockin’ work: EDF Green Britain Day, Citroën, and Tck Tck Tck. Three fabulous cases. Four fantastic presenters. Fifteen wowed students. One British breakfast. Thanks all!


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Bombay Sapphire. Blue.

At Vinopolis Will Brix introduced the students to one of the best examples of brand environmentalism I’ve recently seen. There, in the Sapphire Room, Brix provided the students an amazing brand experience. He also shared the fascinating back-story on the brand. Now I could tell you the story from my point of view. But I’d rather let the students share their perspectives on brand environmentalism. Check out the comments below and learn all about…

Bombay Sapphire. Blue.



Filed under Branding, Ethnography