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Cultural Strategy: Using Innovative Ideologies to Build Breakthrough Brands 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199587407
ISBN-10: 019958740X
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"May well be one of the most important books on advertising and branding in the past ten years."--Richard Huntington, Adliterate.com


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 & 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 & 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 & 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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019958740X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199587407
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #852,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Liked this book very much. The irreverence and polemic were refreshing. Holt and Cameron practice what they preach, and don't pull punches. The ideas and thinking are solid. The cases are excellent. After reading I recommended to friends at ad agencies, many of whom no doubt face H & C's `brand bureaucracy'.

Style-wise, `Cultural Strategy' found a nice niche between scholarship and practice. I liked this approach. But if you prefer 1-2-3 books on brand and strategy, don't buy the book. You're going to get Max Weber and terms like `mimetic isomorphism' just as much you get stories on brands like Nike, Levi's, Vitamin Water and Fat Tire. I liked the combination, others might not.

As someone in strategy, I do have some beef with Holt and Cameron's stance against utility, or what they refer to as `mousetrap' thinking. They take the constructivist line of thinking too far, and it diminishes their argument. They need a foil, but of all their polemics this one feels more rhetorical than substantive. Ideally, value creation and cultural innovation work together. If subjectivity were all that mattered we wouldn't be in this recession. H & C have written particular kinds of cases-- products fighting it out in mature markets with homogeneous offerings. In these situations i think they're argument holds up better. In emerging markets where the there is still a great deal of diversity in offerings, i'm not as sure. The one outlier here is the freelancer's union case, which was quite good.

But on all other accounts, this book furthered my thinking. Even if you don't agree with the authors, they'll engage you. I'd read it.
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Format: Hardcover
This outstanding work underscores the importance of incorporating culture into marketing initiatives to drive sales growth and market share. Citing Weber's theory of bureaucratization in Economics and Society, Holt argues convincingly that leading firms have sacrificed marketing innovation for ineffective brand management based on standardization, superfluous scientific methodology, and dehumanization of the consumer products/services and the markets that they ultimately serve. Controversially, but supported with strong empircal examples, Holt asserts that the epistemic proclivities of establishing marketing as a 'faux science' has resulted in stagnant 'mousetrap' strategies that result in minimal gains in growth.

Supported by case-studies of both successful and unsuccessful marketing initiatives, Cultural Strategy is essential reading for academics, entrepreneurs and F500 management seeking iconoclastic reconceptualizations of the consumer goods landscape.

I suspect, however, that the prevailing path dependencies and perceptions of 'brand strategy' among leading firms in industry today will inhibit Holt's central thesis from attaining wide-scale practice. But perhaps as a greater number of agile entrepreneurs leverage 'cultural strategy' to win a greater share of blue ocean opportunities, the aforementioned market-leading firms will be compelled to take notice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm currently a marketing MBA and I found this book through a professor of mine. It takes a unique view of branding and is open about the fact that they provide benefits that are intangible. The biggest win for me on this book is the research done to write it. There are great case studies from well known brands and the authors take historical advertisements, cultural movements, and competitor actions into account to show the opportunities exploited by using cultural branding.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cultural Strategy, by Douglas Cameron and Douglas Holt, was a simultaneously exciting and frustrating read for me. It is an important book in that it provides a specific model for integrating the power of culture into marketing strategy. It's a milestone that the authors go beyond the generic advice to simply "pay attention to culture" that most business books provide. The authors clearly have working experience in this area, and are able to provide compelling narratives to justify the application of their cultural strategy model.

The weakness of this book, however, is a consequence of it being one of the first of its kind. The model of cultural strategy that it offers is better than what most marketers currently use, but it's much thinner than it could be.

For one thing, the authors' model of culture is rather sparse, in comparison to what most cultural anthropologists might describe. Holt and Cameron content themselves with understanding culture as mere ideology - as ideas that are shared and motivate. Culture is much more than that. It's especially important for people in business to work with culture as something embodied. Culture isn't just the communication of ideas. Culture is in physical objects we possess, and the behavior we engage in with those objects. These aspects of cultural strategy are largely missing from Holt and Cameron's model. The authors briefly mention ritual here and there, but they never explain what they mean by it, much less how to use ritual in business. This oversight leads to a rather narrow scope of recommende application. Holt and Cameron focus mostly on advertising as a tool of cultural strategy, but advertising holds a rapidly diminishing portion of the marketer's toolbox.
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