G. Clotaire Rapaille and his dartboard


Clotaire Rapaille is a market researcher and a gifted one. 

Every time I hear his name, I remember a marketing conference a couple of years ago.

We were sitting around a table, 4 or 5 of us.  It was late.  We were deep into our cups.  The evening was over.  Rapaille’s name came up.  Someone said,

"Oh, yeah, that guy.  We hired him.  He told us our ATM machine was "mother.""

Heads shot up around the table, and almost simultaneously, several voices protested,

"That’s what he said our product was!" 

"Hmm," I thought, "that’s the trouble with Jungian archetypes.  There only a few of them, and eventually you have to start recycling." 

Ever since then, I’ve had a picture of a dart board at Rapaille’s headquarters.  "Let’s find an archetype for sports cars!  How about luncheon meats?  Stand clear, everyone.  I’m throwing for a South African resort!"

This is unkind.  But hey, I’m entitled. Rapaille and I are in the same business.  And he’s a big success.  According to a recent story in Fast Company, Rapaille has a mansion in Tuxedo Park, an 9th century castle in France, his own helicopter, and millions of dollars.  Until recently, I lived in a rickety condo in Montreal where I lived without a car, a chateau, a helicopter, or much in the way of a bank account.  (I take my profits and pour them straight down the hole marked "deservedly obscure books."  Clearly, I need a new investment advisor.) 

I would not have offered comment had John Winsor not gently baited me on his blog today.

But comment is called for, because Clotaire Rapaille is a man without shame, the P.T. Barnum of the research world.

What else can we say about a man who claims to have understood Japanese, Chinese, German, American and Indian culture by "cracking their code."  Rapaille says,

"The code is like an access code: How do you punch the buttons to open the door?  Suddenly, once you get the code, you understand everything. It’s like getting new glasses."

When I listen to this kind of thing I think of Milton Singer, the great anthropologist at the University of Chicago who devoted his life to the study of India.  "Did Professor Singer discover a code?"  I ask myself.  "Did he break through the South Asian security system?"  My head spins. 

I know enough about India to know that it is encompasses an almost limitless diversity.  And this was true before it embraced the postmodernism that has reshaped global and local cultures.  The idea that there is a code!  This is ludicrous.  The idea that someone can crack this code with a simple proposition, a lively phrase, a striking image!  I think it’s just possible even the infinitely gentle Professor Singer might well have strangled you for suggesting as much. 

Now, I am guilty as charged.  I have presumed to do ethnographic marketing work many times in China and several times in India and Japan.  To be credit, I always told the client (usually Kodak and the Coca-Cola Company) that the culture in question, that North America is my "beat."  They always replied that they wanted the same eyes and ears for the problem at hand. 

There is no code.  There is just good marketing.  Listen carefully.  Identify the cultural meanings,the market conditions, and the economic constraints and inducements in place.  Spot the opportunity.  Sell the opportunity back in to the corporation.  No theater.  No fancy language.  No professional Frenchman charisma.  No glittering phrases.  Just very clear insights that can be put into practice straight away. 

Good market research, especially these days is bound by 3 rules that seem specially germane in a case like this one.

1)  Research has to be bespoke.  It has to come from the interviews in a particular way.  It has to speak to the problem in a particular way.  It has to be custom made.  No Jungian dart boards.  No prefab archetypes. 

2) Good research should not be parading around in grand declamations and charismatic presentation.  We are not branding an idea.  We are reporting our findings.  Good research is thoughtful, grounded, nuanced, and precise.   It is after all social science, of a kind, and not theater, of any kind. 

3)  It’s not about us.  The Fast Company records Rapaille’s eagerness to claim the success of the PT Cruiser has his own.  "I discover the code, and–bingo!–the car sells like crazy."  The article also notes the unhappiness of Chrysler employees when they hear of this.  Good research delivers new insight but this insight will come from the corporation as much as it does the researcher.  The research is working collaboratively with the consumer and the client. 

But, hey, I’m keen on anything that works.  And evidently, Rapaille has created lots of value for lots of clients.  Fast Company suggests that up to 25% of his utterances may have substance.  And let’s not forget.  Sometimes it takes a PT Barnum to create a PT Cruiser. 


For a brief summary of the career of Milton Singer, see his obituary here

Sacks, Danielle.  2006.  Crack this Code.  Fast Company.  Issue 104.  April. here

Winsor, John.  Cracking the Culture.  Under the Radar.  April 19, 2006.  here.


With thanks to J. Duncan Berry for giving me a head’s up on the Fast Company article.

Thanks to John Winsor for getting me to shoot my mouth off. 

35 thoughts on “G. Clotaire Rapaille and his dartboard

  1. Tom Guarriello

    Oh, this is good.

    Two, no, three posts about archetypes on two marketing blogs on the same day.

    Seth Godin has this one http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/04/archetypes.html and http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/04/archetype_the_m.html this one.

    “Synchronicity,” to appropriate another Jungian phrase.

    I’ll just step back and let you boys shoot it out.

    Fact is, Rapaille’s work has always gotten under my skin for similar reasons to those you cite, Grant. My sense of it is that the cultural meanings we all search for when doing research have some persistence within cultures over time. Want to call that an archetype? Fine. But this code business is too clever by half.

  2. dilys

    Gee, first off, if the academics hate it as “irrational,” isn’t it worth a second look? Couldn’t we call R’s “code” jargon and rat-a-tat Gallic overweening his brand?

    I like the idea of childhood memories. You can’t go wrong chiming those. As Godin says, “We don’t have to understand them to leverage them.” If an ATM acts like Mother and feels like Mother in a culture, that’s not useless information (some mothers behave more like stuck gumball machines, but never mind). An archetype as an organizing principle to get strategy to the next level seems cognitively very practical. Though he’d perhaps be smarter to veil his code a little.

    Some people have the same reaction to name-recognized authors like Paco Underhill. But where’s the beef? Turn someone more-or-less effective into someone reasonably effective and articulate who also has cultivated an identifying sizzle? You guys are the professionals, so you tell me whether this is a brand. Even if not one that stands the test of forever, perhaps.

  3. Steve Portigal

    Admit it, Grant, you wrote the whole piece just for that last line.

    Frankly, the guy has mostly sent me into incoherent rage, so I really enjoyed and articulate acknowledgement of what is crap and what maybe isn’t crap (?) about the guy. And yeah, Paco Underhill rubs me wrong, but not as badly.

    Is it their overexposure? The way they seem to capture the solo dominance in some part of the public consciousness as the only one that does anything like what *I* do, and so I feel jealous and want to throttle someone until I get a bit of attention?

    Is it the fact that what they say seems totally shallow, yet reinforces their own expertise above their clients? And reduces mine?

    From the Simpsons
    Lisa: This is madness. He’s just peddling a bunch of easy answers.
    Carl: And how!

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  5. Matt Bernius


    Excellent breakdown of a guy whose rhetoric makes anyone with a lick of academic rigor or decency cringe. The entire notion of a “code” is so delusional that it’s laughable. Nice job on acknowledging his successes as well.

    – Matt

    ps. I’ve been reading this site off-and-on after after discovering it conducting a google search for “metapragmatics” — I’m constantly amazed by your excellent work.

  6. Candy Minx

    Don’t be so hard on your self Mr. McCracken, don’t be jealous of the master of reptilian brains. He is using his superpowers for evil. There are archetypes, and patterns among groups of people but what a waste to make another car. BORING. Big deal, the guy helped design a car, just what we need another car in the world. Like I say, YAWN.

    Matt, my sweet, there are codes, but they ain’t secret. All the Rig Veda and Bible and Beowulf are “codes” for astronomical activity and memory chambers for astronomy. Ah, but thats a different blog, my blog. heh heh I have the answer to all the questions of the universe. I do agree with you though that this is a great blog!

    Anyhow, great post Grant and don’t even compare your self to a loser who thinks India is a different culture than China or Europe or North America, or the Middle East. They are all exactly the same culture. Rapaille is misinformed. Doesn’t matter if he makes money or not, he’s deluded about culture.

    Candy wondering if this post will make the light of day….

  7. Grant

    Tom, please, one giant at a time, Grant

    Dilys, as long as it’s a dartboard, better to keep it concealed. Thanks, Grant

    Steve, yes, I am quite sure it’s sour grapes, carefully harvested from the chateau I do not have. Best, Grant

    Alex, beauty! Grant (and yes it’s allowed)

    Matt, Yes, I’ve broken the code’s code. It’s like having new glasses! Thanks, Grant

    Candy, thanks! Dr. Evil will no doubt take one of us for ransom for one million dollars. Best, Grant

    Auto, I am a Chicago boy, not born but bred. Thanks, Grant

  8. fouro

    Hmmm, much baby with the bathwaterness. Rapaille is a bit of a twink but there’s there there. [sic, or just clumsy prose]

    “Sometimes it takes a PT Barnum to create a PT Cruiser.” And sometimes it just takes a corporation like Chrysler being so put through the wringer that they stop thinking like bankers and remember that cars were once also made by men (and women) practicing intuitive craft absent the wonders of cad-cam. Sometimes, most times maybe, research whether conventional or un-, is just reason to believe and get out of your own way.

  9. Susan Abbott

    When I saw the article in Fast Company, I was really hoping you would write about this, and you did, and did it so well.
    Yes, the code is far too simple. But I too find myself jealous of the success people have with oversimplification and formulaic responses which diminish the beauty and complexity of our world and our humanity.
    I like to think I can distill complex issues into beautiful simplicity, but I’ve never flattered myself that there is one code. Or that one insight makes a good product, get a grip. My job is to make the CLIENT look good by giving them bespoke help for complex problems. Period, full stop. Even if I knew how to do the PT Barnum thing, I couldn’t morph myself into it. Nor could you. And that’s a good thing, Grant.

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  12. Adam


    Excellent article as always. I’ve run into Rapaille on a couple of occasions as we’ve shared clients. The first time was with Oral-B about 10 years ago when I was designing their kids toothbrushes, and I dismissed it as weirdo hokum. But the client loved it.

    More recently I worked for a client that had hired my firm (frog design) and Rapaille in parallel, and we arrived at fairly similar insights, though to my mind (completely unbiased of course!) our insights were more nuanced, comprehensive, and actionable toward real product design. The one-word codes that Rapaille comes up with were simply no good at providing detailed guidance on what to make and how to make it. OK for high-level positioning, yes, but not much more than that.

    Now, I got to participate in one of his sessions, which was quite fun to do (as an insider anyway), and I do think they extracted deeper information than one gets out of a conventional focus group. The code word that his colleague who was running the session came up with was a good fit for the client and the product we were creating. And again, the client loved it. In fact, R was given far more credit for the user insights than we were. So he’s doing something right in terms of marketing his own brand, in any case…

  13. Timothy

    Grant, as usual, offers an insightful (and in this case) biting commentary on cultural phenomena, such as Rapaille. I too have participated in one of Rapaille’s archetype sessions, which is none other than a glorified focus group. The session consists of three parts, and transpires from word associations, to experiences, to personal stories. The last part left us prone on our backs, in a darkened room, listening to Gregorian chants (or was it Enya?), and writing narratives of our first, most memorable, and last experience with the brand.

    What is most disturbing about Rapaille’s technique and his analysis (not in the least of which is a focus group that he terms anthropological work), is that he, himself, establishes no direct or personal contact with the consumers themselves. In the old Structuralist tradition (e.g., Levi Strauss), the native didn’t matter at all. In fact, it was only the cultural text (song, dance, poem) that mattered. This is shown today in Rapaille’s work – we used orange and yellow highlight markers to deconstruct stories into oppositional constructs of verbs and nouns – totally apart from the people who wrote them and gave them meaning.

    Performance and pragmatic theorists along with those who study ritual would argue that surface content, such as the way a story, a dance or poem is performed, and the audiences they assume, are highly important features of cultural meaning. Moreover, behavioral meaning is missing in the analysis, since the respondents of Rapaille’s archetype sessions compose their stories in a room of 30 + other respondents, previously ‘charged up and ready to go’ with open discussions about their brand. So, posing as a modern-day marketing theorist, Rapaille is rapacious of the assumptions of other marketers, and as I figure it, does so well in practice because he gets ‘buy-in’ and generates feelings of ownership from the clients who partake in the groups themselves. Let’s hear it for more rigorous methods of analysis that include the people who are being studied.

  14. michel vangineau

    I am not sure what I am supposed to write as this is my first time on a blog. I am not even sure of what a blog is, but I like the name.
    Anyway, this is how it went. I googled (see, i’m not completely ignorant of things modern) the word “rapaille” as I was on line and suddenly remembered I had made a mental note to do some research on this gentleman after hearing him being interviewed on a local public radio program here in Miami. For some reason some of the things this man was saying just didn’t seem right. I mean there was a weird discontinuity between the banality and hollowness of his remarks and the apparent seriousness and reverence with which the person doing the interview and also the callers-in were treating him, like as if he knew something they didn’t. I mean he sounded like a complete ass!
    And all this on public radio!
    The fact that this man is 100% pure french and insist, everytime he gets the chance, to try and make us believe that he is an american and that we americans are like this and we do things like that and on and on, how pretentious can you get?. Like he is american because he has a passport or something and that gives him an inner special knowledge of the culture! What a joke!
    Listen, I never heard of this guy before and to me, the fact that he is taken seriously tells me a lot about the sort of world we live in.
    He is a living embodiment of the worst characteristics of the french version of the white male (suffisance and obnoxious pseudo-intellectualism) and I hope I never hear of him again.
    What especially got me going was when he had the nerve to cite Claude Levi-Strauss who is someone that I really admire. Like someone said on this blog: the man has no shame!
    Right, I got it off my chest and that’s all I wanted to do!
    By the way, I do not give a rat’s ass about “marketing” or “advertising and so on…
    If you read through this and are still with me, have a good day or night.

  15. Steve

    As far as I can tell, Rapaille’s proof of concept is “If it makes money for me, it works”.

    More seriously, Rapaille’s method is focus groups (which he prefers to rebrand as “discovery sessions”). Throw out a word such as “love” or “seduction” and ask people to associate that word with their earliest experience of it. Repeat until you have a sufficient number of responses. Cherry pick responses that fit the semi-predetermined cock-and-bull “interpretation” that you pulled out of your ass.

    You could do the same thing and get opposite results. In fact, you would need to do the same thing yourself because Rapaille does not share his raw data.

    Make sure your clients are all big, established, and successful. Any bullshit you come up with will accompany respectable sales.

    Oh yeah, develop a French talent for shameless semi-academic double-talk. By affirming opposites and leaving key terms undefined, you will never be wrong.

  16. Yoyo

    Have you read Rapaille book The Culture Code? The man is certainly up to something. He is not engaged in academic double talk at all, on marketing issues he clearly gives direction, very clear, on how to sell a product. His insights in cultures, America, Germany and France were very genuine, fresh. I can imagine how work friends (per your story) get around the table and must rephrase an experience to make it funny to others like “he said ATM is mother”. He says more than that. You’ve got to scratch the surface to learn more, more than one idiot is telling you. There is no recycling of concepts, I bet you felt pretty smart coming up with that one. No, read the fucking book, and you’ll see there are arcetypes such as GUN, DEAD, ALIVE, TO KEEP, JOHN WAYNE, so forth. Anything and anyone in public eye can be an archetype. We are in modern world.

  17. Brian R.

    I didn’t read all the responses, but this is definitely related to Rapaille’s work, and even Jung’s. In fact, it predates their work by several thousand years. If you want to understand people, reach for the ancient tried-and-true practices, afterall.

    Hinduism (based on ancient Vedic knowledge) tells us that people want four things: 1) we want to be (rather than be dead), 2) we want to know (aka, curiousity, learning), 3) we want to experience joy (opposite of suffering), 4) we want all three of these things forever.

    The way to do this is to unify with God/Universal Consciousness/The One/Singularity.

    There are four ways to get there: 1) Path of Knowledge, 2) Path of Love (e.g., Christianity and also Hare Krishna), 3) Path of Work (e.g., Scientology), 4) Path of Yoga.

    Hinduism and many other religions/belief systems state the human mind and human perceived universe is constructed of archetypes.

    The archetypes exist to re-unify the individual awareness with the One awareness. In the meantime, the individual awareness’s job is to expand God outward, into unknown space where God previously did not exist. If the individual is capable of unifying with God while they trek into the empty spaces, they will have succeeded in doing two things: 1) meeting their four base needs, and 2) expanding God.

    This is what all marketing should be based on, IMO. All else is superficial to this. The end result is a symbiotic relationship between people, corporations, and all other life forms. This is what people inherently want.

    Now give it to them.

  18. Rigas

    It’s Clotaire Rapaille Grant. Not Claude! Have you read any of his books? Clearly not. I am a researcher who sells and performs consumer motivational research. In his field Rapaille is without peer. He has insight and balls to deliver it in an entertaining way. USA is DREAM. What an insight. So amazingly true. And demonstrates a real empathy with the USA at a time when their PR image is at its lowest. He is right – USA should stop exporting bombs and death and start exporting their dream culture – the very thing that makes it great.

    You guys have no idea just how insightful Rapaille is and how much meaning and application exists in his work. He is the same visionary that characterised Bernays, Dichter, Paul Heylen, Louis Cheskin. I suggest you acquaint yourselves with Rapaille’s field of expeertise before you go writing him off as a circus act. Other researchers hate him because they are totally envious where in fact they should be inspired.

  19. Arnie

    Succinctly put Rigas! What rapaille postulates is not entirely new and is practiced in various shapes and forms around the world. he has at last broken the back of the dreaded 2 hour focus group and spoken out against the rationalisation and self-justification wrung out of respondents to pose as insight in the research report. he is a bit too much the showman for me (that must be the American code in him he keeps on about:), but the essence of what he does is very meaningful

  20. Arnie

    Succinctly put Rigas! What rapaille postulates is not entirely new and is practiced in various shapes and forms around the world. he has at last broken the back of the dreaded 2 hour focus group and spoken out against the rationalisation and self-justification wrung out of respondents to pose as insight in the research report. he is a bit too much the showman for me (that must be the American code in him he keeps on about:), but the essence of what he does is very meaningful

  21. Chazza

    What an interesting debate! I too am a motivational resesarcher, and intrigued by Rapaille’s work. Yes, he’s a showman, and has obviously made a wicked amount of money. But it’s characters like him who have the power to inspire the rest of us.
    People like him have the power to influence clients’ thinking and expectations, and make them more amenable to creative research techniques. That, in turn, means that we rank-and-file researchers have more chance of getting paid to use more creative methodologies. Ultimately our jobs can become more interesting. We need more people with Rapaille’s originality in research- we should appreciate him in spite of his charlatan-like tendencies.

  22. Paul Everett

    Very interesting discussion. I have personally been involved (as a client and as a participant) in three early archetype studies done in the middle 1980’s. They were astoundingly effective. Sales rose remarkably in one case, competitors were at loss as to what was hitting them; in the two others presentations of public material were fundamentally changed, to the great benefit of the organizations involved. His stuff works, whether you like it or not. A P. T. Barnum he is not. A great showman, he is, but with a solid base that benefit his clients, imho.

    There are several very ignorant posts on this board. It is not JUST one word. The archetype is more like an onion, with a core, simple truth at its center and a set of ever-expanding corollaries of understandings that become actionable as you begin to understand these ‘upper’ levels of the onion. But, getting to the ‘one word’, or the Code, is crucial to keep the subsequent work and actions in alignment. That is the real value of his method. Discovering what is unconscious and inaccessible to most marketing methodologies.

    As for the PT Cruiser, he does not claim authorship, he was a coach to the designers and engineers, keeping the car aligned with the Archetype. Any such claim is in the mind of the interviewer, not his. In our case, he coached the designers and publicity firms how to place the new understandings in context so that they stayed true to the Archetype. The results spoke for themselves.

    One of the true difficulties in this world is the one of premature judgment from little or no knowledge. It blocks being able to see what might be there to be seen. It stops all creativity dead cold. Daniel Boorstin has a great statement in his book “The Discoverers” that goes something like this, paraphrased—The block to the discovery of the shape of the earth, the continents and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. I submit that there is much ‘illusion of knowledge’ on this board by jealous people. Come back when you have been to the mountain.



  23. Qarim

    While Rapaille’s technique provides him with the “treasure map” needed to navigate the consumers subconscious desire, he is ultimately riding in the passenger seat (so to speak). Desires can be designed , manipulated and driven without hypnotized focus groups and psychoanalysis 101. He creates marketing safety checklists, but does not begin to explore the power of Phazen Konzept principles.

  24. Anthrodiva

    I too hated him in the abstract, and fumed at his presumption of calling himself an anthropologist, until I saw him talking about cheese. The man was hilarious and dead to rights:

    “French people see cheese as alive. Americans see cheese as something that is dead, and needs to be kept in little plastic body bags in the refrigerator, which is a morgue.”

  25. Ronny

    What none of you seem to understand about Rapaille’s success is that it is not due to his ‘codes’. That’s a cover. It’s that he does not faff about talking with the bottom feeding drones that consitute a company’s ‘research or marketing managers’. These people generally act as postboxes for managing the endless crap focus groups and ‘tracking studies’ that supply (as Rapaille accurately says) “scientific answers to the wrong questions”. No. Rapaile’s clients are the PRESIDENTS of monster companies like GE, Boeing, P&G. He has done something like 40 codes for P&G alone. About 35 for Chrysler alone! Including the famous one where he told them that the Jeep needed round headlights (HORSE). Duh!! Why in the world would Chrysler require 35 codes??!! For goodness sake wake up! The millions upon millions of dollars that have come Rapaille’s way are due to his insider associations with the elite of global business. His fees for one discovery project alone are a minimum of US$250K.! This does not come from their ‘research budgets’. That chicken shit is for people like you and me. For Rapaille it’s a top to top transaction. Get real. It does not matter how talented or smart you are. Unless you are personally invited into this elite club of global business this kind of fame and fortune will not come your way. Have you ever heard of a CEO of a company like GE or P&G being the in-house champion for a piece fo research?? No. They would never stoop so low as to champion somethign like that. Except, that is, in Rapaille’s case.

    I’ll tell you why..

    The guy is obsessed with the Reptilian brain. He talks about the human reptilian nature incessantly. Read his books. The word reptilian is virtually on every page. He teaches companies to talk to and encourage the reptilian impulses in all of us. That is the small part of our brain that is obsessive, ritualistic, aggressive, hierarchical and deceptive. The reptilian brain is devoid of emotion or compassion or empathy. He encourages our ‘primal’ nature which is exactly what the global business elite (and now I’m talking absolute top end of the freemasonic elite) want. They don’t want us to be compassionate, thinking or feeling human beings. They literally want us to behave in ways that are deviod of emotion and simply act on primal instincts – to consume mercilessly, endlessly and slavishly – until we are so in debt that we are mere serfs to their credit. That has already been achieved by the way..

    So is it any wonder that Rapaille’s newletters spout all kinds of Orwellian doublespeak like “there is no war in Iraq” (yes Rapaille actually said that!!). Or that a serial mass murderer like George W Bush is president because he is ‘on code’ with American culture. What bullshit! He is president because his brother rigged the Florida election and then because of 9-11 (which most credible researchers and journalists now claim was engineered by the white house itself).

    Yes Rapaille is a brilliant brilliant man. But make no mistake. This guy has sold his soul to the devil for a few mansions and a bunch of cars. He has a strange demeanour and dresses like some kind of medieval aristocratic about to participate in a secret pagan ritual.

    Rapaille is an unwitting (perhaps) propagandist with esoteric knowledge about the workings of the human psyche and brain. Don’t be fooled. He did NOT discover this on his own by working with autistic kids (as he claims). Thousands of patient people work with autistic kids. But strangely Rapaille goes from that humble occupation (usually reserved for the unambitious lowly paid psychologist and counsellor) to working directly with the top people at Nestle and then almost immediately, it seems, many other companies. He has never worked in a research agancy or an ad agency or inside a marketing organisation. He claims not even to eb a marketing researcher (that is too lowly for him). Think about it…

    I’m no bleeding heart liberal but this guy does not add up. I’m a huge fan of his codes but that stuff alone does not make you famous or wealthy. In fact most marketers react to him in the same way that you all have – unless, that is, their CEO tells them to listen to this guy! There is more than likely a hidden agenda here.

    Rigas was right – Rapaille is a continuation of the Bernays/Dichter dynasty both of whom used Freudian insight (particularly of the ID) to manipulate the minds of Americans to accept impulsive and incessant consumerism as their new god. Dichter’s wife Heddy said that Ernest thought consumerism made people happy!! When we all know for a fact that it has exactly the opposite effect. Dichter was a brilliant man. He knew exactly what he was doing. BTW Dichter was reputedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars as well! Not bad for a ‘researcher’.

    Rapaille is not part of the elite. But like people such as Frank Luntz he is close enough to it to smell what real power means and will do and say almost anything to get a whif of it.

    You are all researchers and social commentators. Take off your self important blinkers and look through the smokescreen and be conscious of what you are doing.

  26. TropiGal

    Coming lately to this discussion,I noticed when I googled Rapaille that U.S. news article after news article states that his book, Creative Communication,is the bible of French marketing. This claim seems to originate on Rapaille’s website and have no outside verification whatsoever. Like many consultants, the product that Rapaille seems best at marketing is — Rapaille.

    When a student first mentioned Rapaille’s championing of the reptilian brain, I felt repulsed. I still do. Should we not try, as humans, to overcome baser instincts?

  27. Nathalie

    Cracking the Rapaille code?

    In response to the gloriously vapid comments posted by an accomplished Anonymous on this blog:

    “(…) He is a living embodiment of the worst characteristics of the french version of the white male (suffisance and obnoxious pseudo-intellectualism)”

    Well.. Raspaille surely is the living embodiment of “THE” Frenchness consistent with American overly simplistic and culturally “coded”(ahem) stereotypes, as far as Frenchness goes.

    Of course, this kind of Frenchness can’t resonate NOR sell in France itself, since it is the quintessential “americanized Frenchness” that can only sell.. in the United-States!

    (Could it possibly be the reason, why Raspaille left his bhome country to sell for millions of dollars French pseudo scientifico / analytico / ethnographico intellectualism to gullible Americans? I wonder.. )

    Raspaille has never been considered as a serious reference in French market research, sorry to bring the bad news. He is a joke.
    But quite a marvelous expert at selling French (non)expertise anywhere but France 🙂

    Funny that marketing/ ad professionals always get upset, when caught in their own game.

    Raspaille sells nothing more insipid than Kevin Roberts’ gloriously vapid theory on consumers’ emotional connections with brands. (Thanks Kevin for hammering such commonplaces for 200 pages! Nobody knew that brand connections were primarily emotional..)
    Marketing is, indeed, the art of selling wind with conviction (and pseudo science)

    Raspaille’s notion of cultural code is a common place in anthropology & social sciences. Worse than a common place, it is the basic of all basics! Anybody with a half a brain (no PhD required, sorry) has heard about it. It has been researched & analyzed for over 5 decades! (See Hofstede’s studies on cultural dimensions)

    Congratulations Raspaille! You managed to sell
    wind to the wind-blowing experts themselves! US marketing gurus buying wind from a French wind-blowing super brand! Who said simplicity sells well again? French simplicity seems to sell even better 🙂

  28. Julien

    “USA is DREAM. What an insight. So amazingly true”

    Very insightful, indeed.
    The Vietnamese lady who does my wife’s nails came up with the exact same words the other day.
    “America is Dream”
    Maybe she should charge 250k the hour.

    “Rapaille insights on cultures were very genuine, fresh.”

    Which ones again? That Americans perceive cars as “power”symbols, whereas Germans are primarily concerned with engineering? (I just got that one from the brilliant book “The culture code”)
    Again, very insightful.
    So insightful that I am totally stunned.

    Any researcher / planner on this blog knows that the only limitation to insightful research is.. $$$$$!
    Sure, qualitative research is far more interesting and potent than quantitative research. Sure, you get better results when you can sample 250 people for each focus group session, and run sessions three times in a row. Sure, you have the potential to do half a decent job if the client is willing to dish out 250k $ to crack a cultural “archetype”.

    And if you have the intellectual ability to read the first 20 pages of any Carl Jung’s book, grap couple of fancy terms, over-simplify them, regurgitate them with a French accent, and take full credit for them .. You are on your way to become a market research superstar!

    Come on, people.
    You can’t possibly be serious..

  29. M.I.

    I don’t understand this bashing against G. Clotaire Rapaille. The way I see it is that he is obviously an expert marketer for he has made many giant successes for his clients. He is also such a good marketer that he markets himself much better than most other people in the business.

    I believe he’s made you all jealous and as a result you feel that the Fortune 500 companies that hire him are somehow making “dumb” business decisions despite the amazing successes they have had as a result of his work.

    If you want to move up in the business world, learn from those who have been more financially successful than you. Don’t throw them off. After all, they are more financially successful than you. Jealousy gets you no where.

  30. Dave Robertson

    You guys have some serious phallic envy. Actually, it is pretty hilarious. Start by looking at yourself and then you can start blasting away at others.

  31. Dave Robertson

    You guys have some serious phallic envy. Actually, it is pretty hilarious. Start by looking at yourself and then you can start blasting away at others.

  32. Ronny

    Julien – love your anecdote about the Vietnamese lady “America is Dream”. Laughed my ass off.

    These later posts still think that success comes from ‘good work’ and our criticisms are jealousy. Come on! You do not get noticed by CEO’s and presidents for doing ‘breakthrough’ work. You have to be ‘somebody’ or at least pass yourself off as a ‘somebody’.

    Just look at the trajectory of his career – it doesn’t add up. Long time ago some kid at a Rapaille lecture is Switzerland told his father (director at Nestle). Rapaille didn’t even know what consumer research was yet was awarded a contract to ‘figure out’ why the Japanese wouldn’t drink coffee…His answer? Cause they don’t smell it/taste it when they are kids!! His solution? Sell coffee flavoured ice cream for a few decades! Is that a joke?? No – it’s the start of a very famous career. Sorry – sounds like bullshit to me.

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