Is The Brand Sherpa a Culturematic?

When I started The Brand Sherpa, it was an experiment. I was a freelance consumer anthropologist and brand strategist who was seeking an outlet for my point of view. The exact outcome was uncertain: would I sustain a consulting business? Would I get have some interesting conversations and to hobnob with other practitioners in my field?  Would I “go global”? The results thus far have been both interesting and invigorating.

I got to spend about a year and a half working on projects for companies like Coca-Cola, Unilever, BeDo (Marc Matthieu’s former Sustainability-focused consulting business) and Toyota doing work that spanned product innovation, creative inspiration, NGO strategy, brand positioning and consumer Targeting Strategy.

I created an interactive digital wall of “Killer Facts” for inspiring brand innovation,, brought Tigers and Wonderland to the World of Coke (both live!), developed a (modest) blog following, got to contribute a chapter to a market research text book, learned how to crack an accounts-receivable whip, got myself a Trademark and fearlessly embraced my entrepreneurial spirit in the heart of a recession.

I had the opportunity to inspire and be inspired, and ultimately have extended my Brand Sherpa experiment to my current role as VP of Consumer Anthropology at Northstar Research Partners (which has so far proved a very satisfying challenge).  A number of unexpected results have come my way and I, as always, look forward to what tomorrow will bring.

This bout of self-indulgent blogging is not without egging-on….or a point….

I have been reading Culturematic, a new anthropological perspective on leveraging “randomness” in consumer culture by Consumer Anthropologist Grant McCracken. He elaborates on viral memes and social experiments, what makes them meaningful and why they are important to marketers. And the website / social network devoted to the book is in itself, an experiment in “what happens next” (
You can buy the book anywhere they sell books, I beleive. But here is a link via the Better World Books site:

I have also “lent out” a copy to a local Atlanta watering hole where the walls are lined with books. It’s hidden in the stacks and If you find it, it’s yours to read and pass on. 🙂

I look at my own Brand Sherpa experiment…which is still going strong. But if you read Grant’s book carefully, it is not necessarily a Culturematic. I do, however, live my  life as one big Culturematic.

From one day to the next i fearlessly start conversations, throw out ideas or perform acts of randomness designed to poke at the boundaries and see what happens. I have found it a personally satisfying way to be and wholeheartedly encourage the practice with friends, peers, colleagues and aspiring young “sherpas” who come to me for advice.

I’m a “fan” of Grant McCracken and find this book to be particularly inspiring. Worth a read even if just to nudge you to make your life more Culturematic. 🙂 This is yet another in a line of publications from Grant that takes academic anthropological concepts to mainstream audiences and marketers in a way that makes inspiration both accessible and actionable.

Now go forth and do something random.



2 responses to “Is The Brand Sherpa a Culturematic?

  1. Jamie, what a great idea, to turn your book into a library book and Atlanta into a lending library. Very Culturematic and entirely Jamie. Thanks, Grant

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