Cultural Immersion

By Jean Grow

Prague photographThere is no way to take in Prague without letting your senses carry you away. It’s unavoidable. At ever turn there is another site lovelier then the last. Each scent nearly glorious and each sound a curiosity.  The textures and tastes of Prague simply sweep you up and away.

I have tired to make our time here a sensorial, cultural immersion. Something off the beaten path, a sensory awakening. Something that engages the students with the soul of the city and its culture. This is, of course, no easy task as we are tourists. Yet, in pursuit of an ethnographic sensory awakening we sometimes we look nothing like tourists. Is the average tourist a Tesco shopper spending 30 minutes documenting 30 sensorial impressions? I think not. Does the average tourist walk blindly (literally) down the Parizska Street on the arm of a friend accounting for every scent and sound? I think not. Nonetheless, yesterday, that’s exactly what we did. And then we found the sweetest café, tucked around the corner from Parizska Street, where sat with lattes and hot chocolate debriefing and learning, having taken in Prague with all of our senses.

Other times cultural immersion comes in the form of agency visits. Yesterday we visited Remmark http://www.remmark.cz/. There we were introduced to Czech consumer culture from three counter points: geo/political orientation, religion, and the Velvet Revolution of 1989. We learned that Czech people are resilient survivors, but skeptical and ironic consumers. For these resilient skeptics, there is one cultural icon that binds them together across time and space — beer.

Today we visited Garp http://www.garp.cz/. The energetic team at Garp set up a hands-on workshop focusing on BTL marketing, framed by a Staropramen case study. The students had a chance to use their new-found cultural insights to brainstorm branding solutions. And then, much to the delight of the students, the team offered to moderate a pub tour. More on that tomorrow.

For tonight, it’s is time to rest. But then it’s hard to rest in a city that beckons your senses to awaken as never before.

Jean Grow is an Associate Professor in the Advertising/Public Relations department at Marquette University. This summer, she leads a global brand tracking class through London and Prague to explore advertising across cultures. Follow her class’ blog at http://globalbrandtracking.wordpress.com.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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