A Dot And A Hat!

A Dot And A Hat!

How can cultural understanding be used to create iconic brands and communication?

By the idstats team.All credit of the image belongs to Hut Weber.

What is that you see below in this print ad from Hut Weber (German hat manufacturer)?

The images show Adolf Hitler and Charlie Chaplin (from right to left) – famous historical figures who lie on the opposite sides of the social and political spectrums. One divides, other unites. One evokes grieve, other creates laughter. One is hated, other is loved.

Despite these differences, the only physical difference represented here is the hat – eloquently put by the caption at the bottom left corner, ‘It’s the hat’. Hut Weber’s advert cleverly taps into modern cultural knowledge and context to create a powerful advert and narrative, which mischievously points out ‘Clothes maketh the man’. Its impact is forceful not only due to its child-like simplicity, but also because of its timing, for had this advert been aired a century ago – when both Hitler and Chaplin were 25 years old, it wouldn’t have carried the same meaning as it does today. Besides the timing, the physical placement of the images underscore a deeper political change as shown by the gradual movement from left (Hitler’s rigid nationalism) to right (Chaplin’s liberal democracy). Therefore, by harnessing cultural and political knowledge, Hut Weber created an iconic and successful advert.

“Speak to your audience in their language about what’s in their heart.” – Jonathan Lister  

Let’s now apply these concepts to a recent communication by Singapore government for their Smart Nation Campaign.

All credit of the image belongs to Smart Nation Singapore.

The narrative that celebrates the multi-racial Singaporean society and her material achievements is anchored on the understanding that we should never be complacent about our successes, but always be ready for new challenges. Material affluence and ‘smart ideas that are anchored in technological savviness’ are not the domain of large countries only – Singapore should always strive to be ahead of the curve.

The narrative thus heralds the next chapter of Singapore’s journey to be more than just a little Red Dot!

“Because if we are just a dull little spot on the map, a smudge, we are going to count for nothing.” Lee Hsien Loong, 2015

To sum up the ambiguity of the concept of culture is notorious. Some anthropologists consider culture to be social behaviour. For others, it is not behaviour at all! To some, stone axes and pottery represent culture; to others, no material object can be culture. However, for us at idstats study of culture implies an attempt to reconcile the division of knowledge and to overcome the split between tacit (intuitive based on local culture) and objective global knowledge.