Culture Camp 2014 – An interview with Grant McCracken

Here at Truth we’re obsessed by culture. It informs everything we do. We believe it can help our clients achieve more by learning from the past and looking to the future.

That’s why we’re hosting a short course called Culture Camp on 13th June, created by world-renowned anthropologist and author Grant McCracken, offering a rare opportunity to be taught by him in the UK.

The course is the first of its kind to offer marketing professionals the opportunity to train in the emerging discipline of culture and learn how to capitalise on it.

McCracken, who trains some of the world’s biggest companies and consulting firms, says:

“Every marketer needs to monitor the pulse of contemporary cultural shifts - from sneakers to slow food to preppies - while developing a systematic understanding of the deep waves of culture in Britain and the world.  Our course presents a new way to empower companies to engage with the idea of culture, produce something interesting, and discover what works and what doesn't.”

He explains the subtle difference between his systematic study of culture and the more traditional ‘moment of clarity’ that often produces cultural insight:

“To use the terrible cliché, when people start ‘thinking outside the box’ often what they’re doing is importing. They’re bringing in some piece of cultural understanding  that makes the new product or communication possible, but it comes as an epiphany, it doesn’t come as a straightforward moment of cultural understanding, the exercise of your professional competence and discipline.”

The aim of the course is to put this cultural understanding in a different light: “There’s now an opportunity to make it the unmistakable object of study and to say to people ‘Look, you know, we’re not being cool hunters, we’re not being magicians, we’re just being thoughtful and systematic and working through the possibilities here, as any profession would.’  So my thought was that we could make this the beginning of a profession instead of something that must always rely upon the accidents of illumination.

“Sometimes I find you have to call it ‘strategy’ or ‘trends’ or ‘graphic data’, or you have to dress it up in something they understand, but when pressed I say ‘Listen, culture is the dark matter of our world’. 

“You know, dark matter is 70% of the universe, discovered by physicists when they realised that there had to be something out there that they couldn’t see that was having an effect on everything else in the universe, so they sort of posited it as something that they couldn’t quite make out but had to assume.  

“I said ‘Listen, culture is our dark matter. It’s out there, it affects everything else about us. It’s dark matter just because we don’t have the instruments or the inclination to study it, but that’s the point of the exercise, to develop the instruments, to make it a systematic enquiry’.”

Culture Camp takes place at the Royal Institute of British Architects on Friday, 13th June.

To find out more take a look at the website.

And you can read more about Grant McCracken on his blog.