At Truth, we are highly aware of the impact and importance of culture on us, not only as researchers or consumers, but – most importantly – as people. Understanding cultural frameworks and how these develop is crucial to understanding how consumers think and reason, and the role that brands play within this sphere of influence. This is true not only of emerging cultural trends, but of more deeply-rooted cultural influences. (You can read more about our views on cultural insight here.) In light of this, over the next few months, each and every Truther is being encouraged to get out of the office with a “culture buddy”, and spend an afternoon immersing themselves in our cultural world.
My fellow Truther Anna and I were the pilot pair to enjoy a cultural afternoon. As Truth’s token Aussie male, my criteria for a cultural venue were a) something quintessentially British, with a strong influence on modern British culture and b) a location close to a pub. With that in mind, where better than The Cabinet War Rooms, part of the Imperial War Museum collection. This is the wartime bunker where Winston Churchill and his advisors took shelter during the Blitz, and where many of the key decisions in WW2 were made – decisions that profoundly shaped our modern society and culture.
One of the most striking aspects of this exhibition is the way in which it takes an interactive approach to tell the story of those crucial weeks Churchill and his advisors spent underground. According to the exhibition’s organisers, this interactive storytelling environment is so engaging to its audience that visitors regularly spend up to 4 hours in the exhibition (which is billed as a 1 hour experience.)
By telling the story in such a hands-on and engaging way, the exhibition successfully keeps an aspect of our culture alive that, while undoubtedly a fundamental influence on our modern lives, could easily be forgotten or subsumed by new experiences or ideas. The interactivity allows visitors to themselves become part of the story, and thus to understand, in a much more impactful way, the context and influences on Churchill’s decisions; how these came to pass; and exactly how this moment in history has shaped the codes, conventions, and behaviours of the present time.
We left the exhibition feeling not only enriched with new knowledge about Britain’s history and culture, but inspired by the way in which this was presented. Telling a story in an engaging and impactful way is a fundamentally important aspect of our work as strategic insight consultants; but moreover, it is increasingly important for brands as they aim to engage consumers and demonstrate added value in an increasingly competitive and price-driven market. Churchill’s War Rooms does more than just capture a hugely important historical and cultural moment for Britain: it showcases the power of impactful storytelling in creating enduring human impact.