Against the cataclysmic forces of Nature, few have responded as well as the Japanese (courtesy of Joseph Friedman)
Have you wondered what made the Japanese such a resilient and robust group of people? How do they overcome the challenges of living in one of the most disaster prone areas of the world?
With the tagline “How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation”, McCracken proposed that a new professional – the Chief Culture Officer or CCO – is needed to keep corporations on the pulse of consumer cultures. While certain organisations has the fortune of having a CEO who is also a CCO, relying purely on the gut feel of executive tastemakers alone may be dangerous and un-strategic for organisations keen to differentiate themselves.
There is an underlying tension in the field of cultural management where one has to balance between giving customers what they want and preserving artistic integrity. This is especially prevalent in what we term as the ‘high arts’ like classical music, ballet, theatre and museums.
Against the ever growing competition from lifestyle activities coupled with the ever shrinking discretionary time of today’s consumers, it appears suicidal for art organisations to hold their ground for the sake of their art. Considered by many to be a discretionary expense (compared to purchasing groceries, fuel and homes), cultural activities have never faced such tremendous competition as the present age.
Courtesy of Nico in China
One of the most important point to take note of in marketing is culture. These are the traditions, behaviours, practices and values that are embraced by nations, communities, and sub-commities. Without an appreciation of the cultures (and sub-cultures) of your potential customer groups, any marketing endeavour is likely to fall flat on its face.
But then, you may ask, isn’t the world becoming a smaller place? Aren’t we all moving towards becoming a digitally-connected 2.0 global village?
As part of an official trip for the Networking of ASEAN Cultural Heritage (NACH), I had the pleasure of visiting Sukhothai, the old historic kingdom of Thailand, sometime in end January this year. Existing from 1238 to 1438, Sukhothai is the first kingdom of Siam, and its old capital is now a historic park which has been gazetted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It has a number of fine monuments which showcase the beginnings of Thai architecture and can be considered one of the cradles of Thai civilisation.
Ruled by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, who created the Thai alphabet, Sukhothai once stretched all the way from Martaban in Myanmar to Luang Prabang (Laos) and down south to the Malay Peninsula. Its influence was larger than that of modern Thailand, and the kingdom appeared to have absorbed the styles of Khmer, Thai and Sri Lankan cultures as seen in its temples and pagodas.
Also known as the Golden Land, Myanmar is one of Southeast Asia’s largest and probably least well explored country. Culturally rich and vibrant, it is the only country in our region where the traditional sarong is still worn daily as a modern attire. Due to its relative isolation and insulation from the modern world, Myanmar retains much of its heritage, traditional practices and charming way of life. It is definitely a charming cultural destination worthy of a visit by those who yearn for a unique and enriching experience.
Here’s a photo essay of my observations during a trip there in end January this year. Apologies that this took two months to conceive!
Aung San Bogyoke Market, a famous shopping area at Yangon full of crafts, jewellery, textiles and other traditional wares.