Creative Semiotics
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
Boots wanted to better understand the language and imagery used to convey ‘healthy glow’ or ‘radiance’ in product and packaging. They wanted to understand the cultural background of healthy glow to understand the extent to which they could affect consumer discourse and feed into new product development.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
Creative Semiotics, working with Razor Research, conducted a thorough investigation into the cultural context of glow. This included an examination of femininity, gender politics, digital media, sexual politics and spa culture. The semiotic analysis then classified typologies of glow to show which glow types work alongside which product families (tanning, facial care, body care etc.

OUTCOMES
The client received a detailed report on healthy glow, where it comes from culturally and how to build it into brand narrative. They were then in a much better position to decide how to create a range of products based on glow and how to communicate this in packaging and advertising per product category.
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
Toyota UK wanted to better understand the cultural meaning of the car and the trajectory of car communications in the UK to feed into a creative brief to Saatchi. This was in order to inject more character into a pan-European brand proposition.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
The role for semiotics was to analyse 100 car ads in the UK across segment going back 5 years to highlight communication codes sorted into Residual, Dominant and Emergent codes and the visual cues and metaphors tend to be associated with each of them (e.g. car as digital pulse or deconstructed).

OUTCOMES
The findings highlighted a fruitful territory for Toyota which combined TECHNOLOGY with HUMANITY. This allowed Saatchi to develop a highly impactful launch ad for the new GT86, exploiting codes dramatizing the breaking free from technological blandness – and a more human driving experience.
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
Radio Centre is the organization that represents commercial radio stations in the UK. In 2015 they commissioned qualitative research, neuro-metrics and semiotics to show how consistent use of music leads to higher advertising effectiveness. The research revealed diffidence amongst the advertising community, yet neuroscience showed that music in brand communication drove engagement.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
But how to select the right piece of music? The role for semiotics was to analyse the intrinsic properties of sound and music and determine the different ways in which music can be said to have meaning. The process involved a thorough literature review, and immersion with the help of a team of musicologists and sound designers in over 1000 pieces of music.

OUTCOMES
Semiotics helped bring structure and order to the complex world of musical meaning. The Creative Semiotics team devised a meaning framework of 6 parameters that can help guide selection of music. The Musical Navigator tool is available online and has gained traction with planners and other people working to select the right kind of music.
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
The Wrigley Company in the US was tasked with developing an entirely new brand for a mature teen audience. This was a market segment at that point under exploited by competitor brands and represented a gap within their portfolio.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
The role for semiotics was to compare and contrast pack and advertising codes in the gum market in the US emergent themes in youth culture in the mid 2000s. This yielded an insight into the childish or overly formal gum codes and precocious adult codes of the teen market. The juxtaposition yielded design thinking inspiration areas.

OUTCOMES
Wrigley’s 5 has been a fabulously successful product. At time of writing the client estimated that the brand had garnered a 10% share of the multi billion US dollar US gum market. Its packaging, inspired by semiotic insight has won a number of awards.
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
Unilever R&D needed to select a product applicator to strengthen the Rexona brand. In early concept stage they needed to determine whether to pursue a serum contact applicator or a foam delivery contact applicator. They wanted to better understand the world of serums and the design ‘codes’ of both packaging and product formulation, in order to guide the design and development process.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
The semiotics analysis involved sourcing serum samples from Latin America, North America, Europe and Japan and a semiotic analysis of pack codes and product formulation. A crucial insight was the compactness of the serum bottle as a design cue for the preciousness of product and the idea of ‘elixir’ on which serums are implicitly based.

OUTCOMES
Unilever were very pleased with the work. The semiotics report and its findings helped the R&D team steer the positioning and characteristics of the product for the development of Rexona product deploying the serum applicator.
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
Japan is a unique country with loads to offer the visitor. However, Japan has lost its edge in competitiveness to other countries in the region (e.g. S. Korea). Tokyo based advertising agency ADK wanted to showcase an exhibition to show that Japan still retains its power to fascinate the world with its unique, endearing cultural exports.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
Creative Semiotics worked with Crowdsourcing agency, eYeka to work bring order to complexity. Semiotic analysts sifted and sorted through 120 crowdsourced entries to identify thematic areas and to justify a selection of the most compelling expressions.

OUTCOMES
The semiotics helped pulled out a thematic analysis including the salient areas: CRAFTSMANSHIP, NATURE, CUSTOMS that other countries cannot emulate. The overall project led to thinking around Japanese revival that helped to inspire the LDP ‘Recover Japan’ campaign that won the 2012 Japanese elections.
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
Mini was first launched in 1959 but has since been taken over by BMW. Despite this the brand remains British and builds most of the cars in Oxford. The challenge for advertising agency Iris Worldwide was to how to leverage its British roots to reinforce premium status in its most valuable markets.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
Creative Semiotics was briefed to review premiumness and Britishness codes across popular culture, film, advertising and design in Germany, the USA and China. A recurrent theme across the global work was the notion of Britishness as a collection of contradictions and paradoxes. The semiotics mapped out British brands across four dimensions across Europe, North America and China.

OUTCOMES
The semiotics became a key input into the overall development of the Mini brand. The work inspired Iris to create a global campaign based on the idea of tensions. Creative Semiotics was invited to present alongside Iris at 2015 Advertising Week London (showcasing the best of global advertising) in a presentation entitled 'Brits Abroad: The Art of Cultural Exchange'.
case studies
THE CHALLENGE
De la Riva agency was tasked with creating a fresh narrative for Mexico after the election of a new President Nieto in 2012. Mexico had fallen behind countries such as Brazil and Colombia in terms of soft power. The brief to Creative Semiotics was to identify emergent associations with Mexico across the world, (going beyond the clichés). This was to be used as a knowledge bank for a syndicate of organisations seeking to attract investment and tourism.

SEMIOTIC ROLE
The role for semiotics was to co-ordinate a network of cultural experts across 10 key markets. These experts were given prototypical Mexican images and were asked to supplement these with references to Mexico in the local context. We then consolidated these reports into a global story with common themes.

OUTCOMES
De La Riva received a detailed report which sets out the core cultural associations and sketches out a menu of 8 future Mexico narratives which all had potential to work as nation branding and soft power strategies. The final report was also one of the sources of inspiration for an ‘X' shaped design for the new Mexico City airport.