Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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FoE4: The ROI of ROFL: Why Understanding Popular Culture Should Matter to the C-Suite

Too many corporations outsource their understanding of culture to trend hunters, cool watchers, marketing experts, consulting firms, and, sometimes, teenage interns. The cost is in the billions, for data and insights that often don’t help companies better understand their role in the cultural landscape. In his forthcoming book Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation, Grant McCracken argues American corporations need a new professional — a Chief Culture Officer — to prioritize cultural knowledge into the C-Suite level. American corporations need to look not at the internal culture of a company but instead outward, understanding entertainment, leisure, and word-of-mouth trends. This panel will explore how major brands and entertainment properties are, or should be, listening to the patterns of popular culture to make their brands, products and services more responsive to and reflective of the desires of relevant audiences.
McCracken will introduce the concept of the “Chief Culture Officer,” followed by a panel discussion of the promise and pitfalls of applying cultural knowledge to a for-profit infrastructure, how the humanities intersects with this mission, and the benefits and limitations of concepts such as “the CCO” for advocating deeper cultural knowledge into a corporate setting. What new trends are developing that might impact the appeal of a brand’s products or services tomorrow, or even today? How does corporate America understand the developing etiquette and ethos of social media platforms? What benefit does knowing popular culture bring to brands and entertainment properties? What are the benefits to our society if brands are more tapped into cultural trends?

Moderator: William Uricchio – Principal Investigator, Convergence Culture Consortium
Panelists: Grant McCracken– Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation (Basic Books); Sam Ford – Director of Customer Insights, Peppercom, and C3 Research Affiliate; Jane Shattuc – Emerson College; Leora Kornfeld – Research Associate, Harvard Business School

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December 04, 2009 16:58
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