Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CultureLab featured on Fox 4 News-Dallas

Positive things continue to happen for us; CultureLab is very blessed. Here is the video of the news story that ran last night, hope you enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Revisiting '09 Predictions::Lo Fi Storytelling+Inception

We work hard to stay versed in all things related to global urban culture, creative aesthetics, and technology. This posting aligns with what we are passionate about in taking notice of the trends that impact marketing, product development, entertainment, and pop culture.

Almost two years ago, CultureLab published its list of trends to watch in 2009. Three of those 2009 trend predictions relate to this post. Specifically predictions #14, #15 and # 18:

2009 Trend Predictions

"#14 Renaissance of creativity in business, politics, music, and entertainment: watch for new music genres, new art forms, new ideaologies, and new ways of film-making"

"#15 Low budget but creative aesthetic in fashion, film, and music, “Thrift Chic”

"#18 The role of narrative and storytelling will grow in all art forms and advertising/promotional outreach"

The last couple of weeks I have been spending a little time researching aesthetics as it relates to web design and music video, and it hit me that we were pretty much dead on in our predictions from 2 years ago. CultureLab knew that we were in a severely depressed economy and that the creative world could not escape the impact of the macro economic climate.

Web Design

Web design is being democratized and less Flash focused. Wordpress and the thousands of affordable templates made available, provide people with the tools to have beautiful web pages without the investment of $400 an hour web designers. Also due to the popularity of the iPhone, web design has to be viewable in Mobile OS and thus less layering of flash elements.

Web design is also getting simpler: less bells and whistles, more photograph heavy, clean design, and social media focused. Take note of the redos of:

Creative Control

LA Times

Dallas based streetwear brand Unkommon Kolor


Two years ago CultureLab did focus groups for General Mills and Saatchi NY. Most of the subjects were teens from the La Guardia School of the Performing Arts in NYC. I was amazed at how they all seemed to thrive off of the notion of complex storytelling. Narrative and storytelling meant everything to them.

Fast forward to 2010 and the prominent role of storytelling has taken off relating to brands, commercials, and entertainment. It was no surprise to me that Inception was one of the top films of the summer with its storytelling complexity, multiple narratives, and deep dive into the science of sleep. Christopher Nolan proved with Dark Knight that he is the 21st century storyteller and the financial results of his movies speak for themselves.

Lo Fi Storytelling

Finally, the collapse of the recording industry has decreased the budgets of many artists for music videos but as they say, you can’t keep a good artist down. Erykah Badu’s new video with Rick Ross is proof in the pudding of our prediction that storytelling and a “thrift chic”aesthetic would rise to the top. Directed by the lo fi production duo of Coodie and Chike (pronounced Chee-Kay), Erykah proves again that a fascinating storyline is what you need to keep people interested. This video is a continuation of the controversial Window Seat/Get Munny video and see for yourself what good lo fi storytelling is all about:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CultureLab's Branding Work for InTouch Credit Union


New InTouch Credit Union TV Spots Let Members and Employees Tell the Story

Dallas, Texas, July 20, 2010-In a new round of: 30 TV spots developed to introduce the general public to InTouch Credit Union http://www.itcu.org, members and employees do the speaking.

The concept of letting members and employees tell their own personal stories involving the credit union was brought to the management team by the Culturelab agency who have been working with InTouch for the last 2 years to help recruit younger members.

CultureLab, http://www.culturelabcreative.com a Dallas based agency focused on insight, intelligence and engagement of next generation consumers presented the idea to ITCU’s management team that the most powerful advertising comes from referrals and word of mouth recommendations from satisfied customers.

Kevin Walker, managing partner of CultureLab, states, “In an era where consumers are so much more informed and empowered it is important to have strong and consistent brand narrative. With InTouch we have a great opportunity to start the narrative off right by letting the credit union members and employees set the tone and articulate what makes InTouch such a great credit union.”

“We have so many terrific member experience stories to share,” said Diane Gerstner, EVP of the Credit Union, “and we feel fortunate that our members are both passionate and loyal”.

The new TV spots feature 3 Credit Union members and one employee who tell their stories of positive interaction with InTouch Credit Union and interaction with Credit Union members. One of the featured members is Abi Ferrin, a Dallas based fashion designer, who benefited greatly from a line of credit InTouch Credit Union provided her.

Many companies are now looking for more emotional and authentic ways to connect with consumers. Instead of pushing out brand messages, they are allowing consumers to help define their brands by paying more attention to customer opinion and feedback. This is the approach taken to introduce ITCU and to define how ITCU is a “best in class” credit union when it comes to being attuned to their members’ needs.

The new spots will first be aired during the Dallas Cowboys preseason televised games. There will also be an online component to the campaign, with a heavy Facebook focus.

About In Touch Credit Union:

Headquartered in Plano, Texas, InTouch Credit Union serves more than 71,000 members in 21 locations throughout the United States. The organization holds assets totaling more than $870 million. Customer deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Association.

Media Contact: Kevin Walker, CultureLab, 972.835.2366

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kevin Published Today in Dallas South News Blog

Here is an article that was published today in Dallas South News:

What does Dallas offer the Creative Class?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

CultureLab's POV on the Future of Branding and Urban Marketing

Last month, I spoke at the Dallas Advertising League luncheon on the future of branding and specifically the future of multicultural/urban marketing. Here are the key points that I shared with the audience:

  1. Have A Brand Narrative: In the age of clutter, sub-segmentation, and proliferation of mediums your brand identity has to be consistent and strong. You also have to make it very very clear as to why consumers should care about you.

  1. The Science of Consumer Influence is Here: the methodologies for effective marketing are changing and becoming more scientific. Digital advertising and the results from social media outreach are easily measured. Analytics and rich data enable continual optimization of marketing offers and placement. Soon consumers will be broken down into genomes instead of segments much like what Pandora does for music lovers. The principles of behavioral targeting are continuously refining. Also the science of the influencer and virality will be studied even more as WOM and influencers can enhance the success of products and marketing campaigns. Just reference agencies like Mekanism and the embedded video here of Tom Phillip’s talking about Sociographics.
  1. Understand Cultural and Lifestyle Nuance-It is Never Cool To Market At The Expense of Other Racial Groups: Popeye’s and Metro PCS TV spots are two executions that are ALL WRONG (I tried to find the "Annie The Chicken Queen" spots but apparently the agency has removed them from youtube). These spots unapologetically revel in stereotypes. The new KIA hamster spots, however, are ALL RIGHT, the song choice of Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours” and the urban scenarios displayed show real insight and showcase understanding of cultural nuance. The KIA spots are also universal with the use of Hamsters as the subjects.4. There is a Decreasing Need for Ethnically Segmented Creative, MASS is MASS, However Targeted Engagement is Increasing in Importance: For the next generation consumer, ethnicity is not at the forefront of their identity, lifestyle is, so you are out of step if you are marketing to them based on ethnicity only. Furthermore mashup mindsets and cross culturalism make great universal creative ideas even more important in mass mediums like Broadcast TV. However to be effective and engage young urban consumers, research and targeted digital engagement are necessary.

5. The Creative Idea is Still What Matters Most at the Dawn of the Post-Digital Age: Ideas that are status update worthy, spreadable, and buzz generating are more important than the medium. Great copywriting matters even more. Look at the success of Weiden + Kennedy’s Old Spice commercials.

  1. Geo Targeted Apps Are Here to Stay and They Are a GREAT Traffic Driving Tool for Retail: Apps like Foursquare can benefit retailers who embrace all of the functionality of these apps. It can be a great promotional tool, engagement tool, and disseminator of real time information. Ultimately these apps can shepherd consumers to your establishment. For consumers, geo location apps like Gowalla and Foursquare are very powerful WOM tools. Followers pay attention to the influential person’s check ins.

  1. Consumers are your Brand Managers: We are now living in the era of the open brand. As we have become accustomed to open source code, we think it is our right to say what we like and don’t like when it comes to brands that we are passionate about. Consumers are just as important as Brand Managers, and have to be paid close attention to. Pepsi is a large brand that clearly gets this. I referenced this back in the Super Bowl ad review, that they showed they were in step with next gen consumers by creating the Pepsi Project.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Defining CultureLab, From Dallas to New York

Recently, I took a trip to New York to drum up business and soak in authentic urban culture. Most of my meetings were with Account Planners at large agencies who we have partnered with in the past. (Shout out to Carmen Baez and Alvaro Cifuentes of Omnicom DAS Global, Katy Alonzo of Anomaly, Dick DeLange of JWT, Ted Ellet of Draft FCB NY, and Andre Torres, Michael Coxen Loren Odom, and Adrian Younge of Waxpoetics magazine. Loren and Adrian are incredible musicians who are doin' it in the retro funk genre emerging from NY and LA.)

Check out their Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra:

I came across a very well put together mini-doc on the recording of their Black Dynamite Soundtrack. If there was no Waxpoetics, cats like these would more than likely lack exposure for their work.

This trip totally inspired me and further validated my theory that young creative class workers and creative class industries, even a tight-knit but solid creative class circle in the urban core of any city is important. I visited DUMBO, a creative sector in Brooklyn as well as spent time walking the streets of downtown Manhattan. The energy was palpable and even in this economic downturn, the office buildings of DUMBO were filled with cutting edge publishing houses, digital agencies, and software development businesses that are going to help drive the economic engine of the 21st Century.

The question I kept asking myself was do I need to move CultureLab to DUMBO to thrive and prosper or is there something to starting my own "Digital DUMBO' in downtown Dallas? I think the answer is the latter. Eventually CultureLab will have a permanent presence in New York but Dallas Ft. Worth is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. according to the recent U.S. Census, so there is much potential here. However, the business and corporate community must foster and patronize businesses like CultureLab in order for us to compete successfully with Creative Class cities like NYC, Austin, and LA. The time is now, and CultureLab is at the vanguard of a budding creative class industry movement here in the core of Dallas. So, I will end this post by explaining to you just exactly what CultureLab is. We are on to great things and if you hire us you will see!

CultureLab is a forward-thinking Trends & Behavior Research, Marketing, and Creative

agency that utilizes the results of current and anticipatory lifestyle intelligence to help

brands and institutions better and more effectively market to their consumer. Our efforts

generally focus on youth and young adult (NextGen/ Millennial's) anthropology and social

media as it continues to evolve in the realm of technology. The name CultureLab reflects

our research based approach in understanding the NextGen consumer.

Simply put, we are strategists, digital comm planners, writers, filmmakers, researchers and

designers that take a look at what’s current, predict what’s to come and use that

information, unfiltered, to create and execute effective marketing and creative plans. Think

of us as a think tank slash marketing agency slash creative boutique.

Our Research leads to Strategy. Strategy to Engagement. Effective Engagement creates a

relevant Experience.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We Already Knew This....Teens Are Not That Into TV and Foursquare

  • 97% of teens spend two hours or more on social media sites
  • 95% update their status at least once a day
  • Don't really use Foursquare or Gowalla
Television is out. Half of teen influencers spend three or more hours online while only a quarter spend the same amount of time watching television. (Although time shifting of TV watching online is a significant occurrence)

Click on the link for more:

Study: Teens Who Are Social Online Are Social in Life, But Don't Like Television, Foursquare

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Millenials, A Nice Profile of This Diverse Connected Generation


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wocka Flocka x Soulja Boy Tell'em x Roscoe Dash = "Skurban"

Posted by Kevin Walker

For some time, I have been chronicling the dynamic of reverse cultural appropriation as it relates to black urban culture, and west coast skater/suburban culture. There is mounting evidence that black urban culture is taking as many cues from white suburban culture, particularly the subgenres of skater and punk culture.

There is a word being thrown around, “skurban” which speaks to the merging of “skater” with “urban”. The imagery of Mohawks, skateboarding, punk rock, and slam dancing is different from the gun toting thug imagery of hip hop in the past, Soulja Boy Tell’em and Pharrell Williams have been a big reason why. Consider it a new young urban energy with Soulja Boy Tell’em and Pharrell Williams as the crowned princes of this movement.

Soulja Boy Tell’em is not a one hit wonder, rather he is a savvy pied piper of Black Southern teens much like Miley Cyrus is to young teen girls. Much can be said for his impact on digital hustle, his controversial influence on the sound of southern hip hop, and his emphasis on fun. Love him or hate him he has had a noticeable impact.

One other thing to note is that this young energy urban movement has sprung from Atlanta.

Reverse migration of African Americans to the

Southern states has resulted in the south as being the epicenter for Black urban culture, particularly in music. Atlanta is ground zero. Wocka Flocka Flame’s O Let’s Do It and Roscoe Dash’s All The Way Turnt Up are two of the hottest songs on pop and urban music stations and both artists are Atlanta based.

My favorite of the two is Wocka Flocka Flame’s O Let’s Do It. I love the punk rock energy displayed in the video and the catchy chorus. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Youth Mashup Mindset-Marketers Should Take Notice

posted by Kevin Walker

Last week Chiqui Cartagena of Story Worldwide Marketing wrote a very nice piece in Advertising Age’s Big Tent about the ongoing lag between marketers’ cross cultural marketing efforts and the reality of changing demographics in the U.S.

The day her article was published I happened to watch MTV Hits channel and was struck by a couple of music videos that played. The videos were Three 6 Mafia with Tiesto, Flo Rida and Sean Kingston’s “Feel It”. This video has 8.2 million hits thus far

and Justin Bieber and Ludacris’ “Baby” with 28 million hits:

It occurred to me that some of these musical artists/hitmakers are savvier marketers than many of us who are MBA trained, and formally trained marketers. They have made a conscious decision to give the marketplace what it wants which is mashup approaches, the mixing and meshing of genres and to appeal across ethnic groups. Is there something to this? The proof is in the hits! This music blurs the lines but is ultimately appealing to the masses: is it Techno? Is it Pop? Is it Reggaeton? Is it Hip-Hop? So, if the lines of music are blurring, what are the implications for other sections of culture outside of music, particularly how it impacts consumer marketing.

I have been documenting this new crossover/mashup mindset that is emerging among both urban and suburban youth for quite sometime, check out these earlier posts: Crossover Dreams, and One Youth Nation Under A Groove. Now there is more evidence that this mashup/crosscultural aesthetic is mainstream and my question to marketers is how will you respond to be more relevant with the next generation of consumers?

To connect to Latino youth, do you think it is relevant to make Latino Heritage month celebrations cornerstones of your Hispanic youth outreach efforts? Based on research we have done, that may not be the most impactful way to go.

From what I have seen, the agency world is still practicing a rigid market segregation, and many of their Client’s marketing budgets reflect this. There is the General Market marketing budget, the Hispanic marketing budget, and sometimes, an African American and Asian marketing budget. The newly emerging “mashup mindset” that we are talking about poses an interesting challenge for marketers in the context of mashup mindsets.

As it relates to connecting to young people, perhaps there should be coherent youth strategies implemented, along with formally budgeting for these efforts. Also, because of the complexity of youth identity, the role of account planning and insights will dramatically increase in significance in crafting marketing strategies targeted to them.

The reality is that for many young people multiculturalism/crossculturalism is organic. If you are a young person who happens to live in Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, the Bay Area, I guarantee there is keen awareness of other cultures amongst young people and the influence of their associates and friends from other cultures on their tastes, resulting in this “mashup” cultural mindset.

Currently, the way the agency world is structured this organic point of view is stifled by the homogeneity of agency staffs and corporate marketing staffs. There is definitely room for innovation and new effort put toward addressing increasing diversity, and the psychocgraphic and demographic shifts occuring with the next generation of consumers. I know I am beating a dead horse but there is so much potential being untapped. I would like to challenge us to begin the work to convince our clients and fellow agency cohorts to put new approaches into play and to take steps to reflect back to the marketplace the organic way in which young people relate to each other and the brands they love.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Digital Engagement-Connecting with Gen Y

Part of our offering as a youth think tank/marketing consultancy is to study and harness the latest communication mediums to help our clients connect to their next gen constituents effectively. One of our most in demand offerings for Clients is what the industry has pegged as DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT. In terms of next generation marketing, digital engagement should now be considered an integral part of your marketing mix.

CultureLab views digital engagement as an ongoing manipulation of the virtual “toggle switch” between offline and online promotion/events + digital communications. Think of it simply as the leveraging of sales promotion, event engagement, social media content creation, and social media communication.

For the last 7 months our agency implemented and managed a digital engagement outreach initiative for EDS Credit Union (now InTouch Credit Union) called The Arrival Guide. Part of our strategy was to experiment with social media and to implement the process of digital engagement to build a stronger, more authentic connection to young adult members and potential members. Thus, we created thearrivalguide.com as our home base for digital engagement. Along with thearrivalguide.com microsite, we also created a Facebook page, and Twitter account all linked to thearrivalguide.com.

Digital Engagement has been a huge part of our successful Gen Y outreach and has resulted in growth of the ITCU membership base of almost 20% among 18-34 year olds. Our efforts have also helped garner a little notoriety for EDS Credit Union for being social media innovators in efforts to reach Gen Y. (Dallas Business Journal article)

Because of digital engagement, we have also been able to dramatically increase traffic to thearrivalguide.com. When our thearrivalguide.com sweepstakes launched on February 1st 2010, traffic increased on the site by 900%

Here are a few notable results from our effort

• The number of members under 35 have increased by almost 20% since the launch of thearrivalguide.com in August of 2009

• Google Analytics showed that after implementation of The Arrival Guide sweepstakes traffic to thearrivalguide.com increased by over 900%

• Branch managers of the Credit Union also reported increased traffic in branches from younger members due to thearrivalguide.com promotions


• Engagement has to be a two way interaction, one way (marketer to consumer) does not work for younger consumers

• Giving is marketing, you must consistently provide something of value to the consumer first before you can sell.

• The use of video embedded on the microsite helped with SEO and promoted viral embedding

• Twitter and Facebook were our most effective tools for broadcasting our promotions and broadcasting special offers

• Facebook and Flickr provide opportunities to reinforce the “fun” aspects of our marketing effort, younger consumers love sharing pictures.

• Content curation and continuous refreshing of content are key to maintaining interest in your social media properties-this is a time intensive process

• The use of social media alone should never substitute for an intergrated marketing effort-we used tv ads to help drive traffic to thearrivalguide.com

Friday, February 26, 2010

Great Article on Millennial Marketing

This has been a BIG week for Gen Y research and insights because of the Pew Research report on Millennials. Our friend, Prof. Carol Phillips, has also written a nice article on how companies are just coming around to paying attention to this generational shift among key consumers. Will companies start paying closer attention to Gen Y outreach? We think so.