Synopses & Reviews
Market innovation has long been dominated by the worldview of engineers and economists--build a better mousetrap and the world will take notice. The most influential strategy books--such as Competing for the Future, The Innovator's Dilemma
, and Blue Ocean Strategy
--argue that innovation should focus on breakthrough functionality.
Holt and Cameron challenge this conventional wisdom. They develop a cultural approach to innovation: champion a better ideology and the world will take notice. The authors use detailed historical analyses of the take-offs of Nike, vitaminwater, Marlboro, Starbucks, Jack Daniel's, Levi's, ESPN, and Ben and Jerry's to build a powerful new theory. They show how brands in mature categories come to rely upon similar conventional brand expressions, leading to what the authors call a cultural orthodoxy. Historical changes in society threaten this orthodoxy by creating demand for new culture. Cultural innovations draw upon source material--novel cultural content lurking in subcultures, social movements, and the media--to develop brands that respond to this emerging demand, leapfrogging entrenched incumbents. The authors demonstrate how they have adapted this theory into a step-by-step cultural strategy model, which they successfully applied to start-ups (Fat Tire beer), consumer technologies (Clearblue pregnancy tests), under-funded challengers (Fuse Music Television), and social enterprises (Freelancers Union). Holt and Cameron conclude by explaining why top marketing companies fail at cultural innovation. Using careful organizational research, the authors demonstrate that companies are trapped in the brand bureaucracy, which systematically derails innovation. Cultural innovation requires a new organizational logic. In all of their cases, the authors find that the cultural innovators have rejected the brand bureaucracy.
Written by one of the leading authorities on brands and marketing in the world today, Cultural Strategy transforms what has always been treated as the "intuitive" side of branding into a systematic strategic discipline.
"May well be one of the most important books on advertising and branding in the past ten years."--Adliterate.com
"This kind of deep cultural relevance is not only a boon to marketing messaging, it is a key to blockbuster innovation. [Holt and Cameron's] retelling of the tales of Nike, Starbucks, and Ben and Jerry's is persuasive in proving that the entrepreneurs involved had an ear to the ground of the culture as they designed and developed their offerings. And their reports on some current innovators' attempts to devise 'cultural strategies' show that there might be reliable ways of doing so deliberately and therefore that any company hoping to launch an iconic offering might really be able to pull it off."--Julia Kirby, Harvard Business Review
How do we explain the breakthrough market success of businesses like Nike, Starbucks, Ben and Jerry's, and Jack Daniel's? Conventional models of strategy and innovation simply don't work. The most influential ideas on innovation are shaped by the worldview of engineers and economists - build a better mousetrap and the world will take notice. Holt and Cameron challenge this conventional wisdom and take an entirely different approach: champion a better ideology and the world will take notice as well. Holt and Cameron build a powerful new theory of cultural innovation. Brands in mature categories get locked into a form of cultural mimicry, what the authors call a cultural orthodoxy. Historical changes in society create demand for new culture - ideological opportunities that upend this orthodoxy. Cultural innovations repurpose cultural content lurking in subcultures to respond to this emerging demand, leapfrogging entrenched incumbents.
Cultural Strategy guides managers and entrepreneurs on how to leverage ideological opportunities:
- How managers can use culture to out-innovate their competitors
- How entrepreneurs can identify new market opportunities that big companies miss
- How underfunded challengers can win against category Goliaths
- How technology businesses can avoid commoditization
- How social entrepreneurs can develop businesses that appeal to more than just fellow activists
- How subcultural brands can break out of the 'cultural chasm' to mass market success
- How global brands can pursue cross-cultural strategies to succeed in local markets
- How organizations can maximize their innovation capabilities by avoiding the brand bureaucracy trap
Written by leading authorities on branding in the world today, along with one of the advertising industry's leading visionaries, Cultural Strategy transforms what has always been treated as the "intuitive" side of market innovation into a systematic strategic discipline.
About the Author
Douglas Holt was Professor of Marketing at both the Harvard Business School and the University of Oxford. He is now President of the Cultural Strategy Group, a consulting firm that provides brand strategy and innovation solutions using the cultural strategy framework. He is a leading expert on brand strategy, having established cultural branding as an important new strategy tool in his best-selling book How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding. He has developed cultural strategies for a wide range of brands, including
Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Ben and Jerry's, Sprite, Jack Daniel's, MINI, MasterCard, Fat Tire beer, Qdoba, Georgia Coffee, Planet Green, and Mike's Hard Lemonade, along with a number of non-profit organizations. He holds degrees from Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern, and is the editor of the Journal of Consumer Culture. He has been invited to give talks at universities and management seminars worldwide, including the Global Economic Forum in Davos
Douglas Cameron is Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Amalgamated, an influential non-traditional advertising agency known for developing content across multiple media platforms. He has developed brand strategies and campaign ideas for a wide range of clients, including Ben and Jerry's, Clearblue, Coca-Cola, Fat Tire beer, FOX Sports, Freelancers Union, Fuse Music Television, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Sprite, and Svedka vodka. He began his career at Cliff Freeman and Partners, the most lauded creative shop of its time. He entered the world of marketing inadvertently: travelling the world as a bagpiper, he was invited by David Ogilvy to perform at his French castle. Ogilvy insisted he take up advertising. He graduated from Dartmouth College, where he received the English department's top graduating honour.
Table of Contents
1. Rethinking Blue Oceans
Section I: Cultural Innovation Theory
2. Nike: New Motivational Instruction for Achieving the American Dream
3. Jack Daniel's: Mythologizing the Company as Reactionary Hotbed of Hillbilly Frontiersmen
4. Ben and Jerry's: Provoking Ideological Flashpoints to Create a Sustainable Business Myth
5. Starbucks: Trickling Down Cultural Capital to Create an Artismopolitan Myth
6. Vitaminwater: Creating a "Better Mousetrap" with myth
7. Marlboro: Selecting the Right Cultural Codes to Craft a Reactionary Work Myth
8. Cultural Innovation Theory
Section II: Applying the Cultural Strategy Model
9. Clearblue Easy: Using Cultural Strategy in Technology-Driven Categories
10. Fat Tire Beer: Using Cultural Strategy to Cross an Ideological Chasm
11. FUSE Music Television: Using Cultural Strategy to Challenge a Dominant Incumbent
12. Freelancers Union: Using Cultural Strategy for Social Entrepreneurship
Section III: Organizing for Cultural Innovation: The Brand Bureaucracy vs. The Cultural Studio
13. The Brand Bureaucracy and the Rise of Sciency Marketing
14. The Cultural Studio Forms Underground: LEVI'S 501s in Europe
15. The Cultural Studio Forms Above Ground: ESPN