Marketing Anthropology or Vice Versa

My dad once told me that, when he was growing up as an Italian American in the 20s and 30s, he was ashamed to admit to his schoolmates that his mother made bread at home. Can you imagine that? Store-bought-bread was considered more modern; and even though Wonder Bread barely protected your fingers from the mayonnaise, it served to help folks shift upwards even before the advent of aluminum siding! Nowadays, making homemade bread is interpreted differently. Things change. What goes around – comes around, I guess.

What got me going on this? Yesterday Amy Santee got my wheels turning in a wonderful post about the value of ethnographic research for use in general marketing on her blog, Anthropologizing. Then today I saw a post by Tom Maschio in a LinkedIn group about the ways in which big business sometimes draws on anthropological notions. In Maschio’s post he shares a YouTube video by Abigail Posner, Google, Canada, who describes a few ways in which ethnography and anthropological concepts have helped Google and the rest of us make extraordinary sense of some pretty darn ordinary things that we habitually overlook.

Why wouldn’t these anthropological perspectives and ethnographic insights come in handy? They’re about people and the people-ish ways people do people things. In my view, a lot of the really good stuff came from anthropological research and theory in the first place; but, nowadays it’s either called something else or done by modern folks to look even more modern.

Still, ain’t nothin’ better than homemade bread! Oh, and I’m so glad there are creative, productive, professional anthropologists in the classroom and beyond sharing this delicious stuff!

(Sorry for the technical difficulties and the uploading fragmentation involved in this post. I hope you were lucky and didn’t even notice it.)

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