Businesses often have strategic visions for the future of a product space; however, identifying and building toward preferable futures is a daunting task, especially when designing for complex systems, e.g., Digital advertising platforms that include multiple complex interfaces and internal organizational structures. Moreover, because businesses need to iterate on products quickly, often in a reactive manner, many businesses, and consequently researchers, struggle to go beyond short-term needs to tackle long-term solutions; that is, they mostly react to immediate needs and changes rather than taking a proactive strategic approach towards building a favorable future. Speculative design as a methodology to support proactive strategic thinking helps set a pathway to explore a variety of future states with participants, in our case business owners. It does so by designing immersive and impactful experiments for participants that draws insight...
PechaKucha Presentation—The conference theme for EPIC2020 is all about scale. For many, scale will probably evoke images of sizing up, moving forward, getting better. But does scale carry the same meaning in all contexts? Could scaling back be the key to enacting scales successfully? And is it possible to enact scales when ethnography and the broader topic of anthropology are unheard among those around you? Reflecting on my own experience working in Thailand and China and my encounters with other design and business anthropologists working in Asia, I share an honest career narrative about enacting scales. My PechaKucha speaks truthfully about the struggles in applying ethnography, and inspires with learnings on how anthropologists can adapt the broader practice of anthropology and find ways to continue contributing to organisations across societies in Asia.
Tiffany Tivasuradej is a Consultant at Ogilvy in Hong Kong. She holds a degree in biological anthropology from Durham University (UK). She...
by E. GIGI TAYLOR, Luminosity Research
I live in Austin, Texas. Along with breakfast tacos, Willie Nelson, and scorching hot summers, Austin is the home of the international conference known as South by Southwest (SXSW). It’s actually three conferences (Interactive, Music, and Film) rolled out over ten days in March. Much of the Interactive portion is about technology, media, and brands. SXSW brings in close to 300,000 people and is now recognized as the prime national stage to launch new products and brands.
Those of us who have lived in Austin forever lovingly (or not so lovingly) call this colossus “South by So What.” Traffic gets even more snarled and all the restaurants are packed. But having spent a good part of my professional career in advertising, I find the Interactive conference an increasingly fascinating spectacle. But “the most valuable business weekend of the year” is hardly a hive of anthropological thinking.
So I was truly honored—and more than a little surprised—to receive an invitation to speak...
Magic is one of the oldest subjects of discussion and theorizing in anthropology. From time to time, anthropologists, as well as other scholars from other disciplines, have suggested that magic is not specific to “primitive” societies, but is alive and well in contemporary industrialised societies—witness advertising. Such discussions have been more general than specific. This paper applies Mauss’ theory of magic more precisely to particular examples of advertising—in particular, his distinction between magicians, magical rites, and magical representations. It also argues that advertising’s system of magic—encompassing related concepts of alchemy, animism, and enchantmen—is reflected in other business practices, which have developed their own parallel and interlocking systems of magic. Certain forms of capitalism, the—fashion, for example, or finance—may be analysed as a field of magical systems.
The Advertising Products research team at Yahoo! is building an internal research practice within an organization that is user-centered, but optimized for consumer product development. While our fellow researchers observe millions of consumers on our websites, we study our coworkers: their experiences with the tools of online advertising, and how those experiences shape the service that our advertiser customers receive. Adopting methods such as task-oriented interviewing and extended observation, we are reconnecting with a tradition of ethnographic inquiry in the workplace that is largely unknown at consumer Internet companies. This paper describes how we have re-learned and built company support for this approach. I describe our work with Yahoo!’s advertising sales and operations staff, highlighting the structural challenges of conducting and applying this research. I conclude by reflecting on how qualitative research can help a company bridge the gap between product design capacity and the ability to produce great services....
Pier 1 Imports is a store that specializes in home decor, including wood and wicker furniture, draperies, and scented candles. On the cover of its Fall 2000 catalogue there is a picture of a tabletop fountain made of slabs of brown and grey speckled marble. Down the right edge of the cover is a series of coloured boxes. Each box is imprinted with the name of a different sense. At the top is feel (golden yellow), then smell (lawn green), hear (purple) taste (lust red), and finally see (burnt orange). The slogan reads: “Get in touch with your senses™”.
A full page advertisement for Westin Hotels & Resorts which appeared in 2007 features a bunch of lush green leaves spattered with dewdrops and the line: “White tea. The calming new scent of Westin.” There is a flap which releases the scent of white tea when opened. Just above the hotel logo is the slogan: “This is how it should feel.” The chain had recently introduced The Westin Heavenly Bed® with its “ten layers of pure comfort.”
When Apple launched...