Tensions & Cultural Thinking: Changing the World


Working in advertising for twenty years, I never truly recognized the power of the industry until now.  Think about it, we are not neurosurgeons who will save someone’s life, or the President of a big nation who gets to make pretty important decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. So when a client calls you with a “life or death situation”, it isn’t really “life or death”.

Don’t take me wrong, I do realize that our work does impact the economy, people of so many industries whose job depend on their products been sold.  At the end of the line, we may even have an emotional effect on people, getting them to love a brand or even hate it.

What I did realize at Ogilvy Latina’s Planning Meeting in Argentina, during the first week of June, is that we can do so much more; we can actually put our grain of salt to change the world.

This inspiration came from Nazia Du Bois, Head of Planning, DAVID / Director of Global Cultural Strategy at Ogilvy & Mather, who spoke at Ogilvy Latina’s Planning Meeting and gave us an eye opener presentation on how better Cultural Thinking can help us change our brands, people, and the world.  She explained how Cultural Thinking is all about people and human insight and how strategies need to have Tension. Tensions are part of our everyday life.  We’ve all experienced many of them as they are timeless: Responsibility vs Freedom, Independence vs Belonging, Guilt vs Indulgence, Safety vs Fun, etc.

Tensions repeat themselves though time, yet as Nazia stated, it is our job to make them fresh within the context of our society, the category and the target. As we work towards this, which I’m sure is no easy task, we will find new meaning for timeless Tensions and thus, for our brands.

In doing so, we can do so much more than sell a brand, we can find answers and inspiration that can change people’s lives, and do our part in changing the world. Coca- Cola is one of those brands that change people and here is an example of how they’ve done it by identifying a Tension:

“We need more kindness to be happier but those who are kind to strangers are considered stupid/naive/crazy.”*

What we do might not seem of “life or death” importance but, after seeing these videos, what we do can sure can be life changing!

*Source:  Nazia Du Bois, Head of Planning, DAVID / Director of Global Cultural Strategy at Ogilvy & Mather. Presentation “Better Cultural Thinking”.at Ogilvy Latina’s Planning Meeting June 2013. 

Liza Umpierre, Brand Strategy Director

de la Cruz & Associates Ogilvy affiliate


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