Unlocking Significance & Decoding Cultures

Join the MRS for a day of case studies from around the world, demonstrating how semiotics and cultural research are solving multiple branding and communication challenges. Hear how brand leaders are engaging new audiences by recoding messaging into modern, nuanced narratives. Examine the impact AI will have on visual culture and the implications for semiotics and cultural analysis.

Hear real world case studies from:

NewsCorp * Panasonic EU * Baileys * LEGO *Shiseido * GambleAware

  • Examine tools and methodologies for developing culturally relevant branding and communications
  • Discuss the intersection of AI and semiotics: examining tensions, opportunities and challenges
  • Evaluate new cultural foresight methods fit for a dynamic and uncertain world
  • Navigate the complexities of international campaigns and developing culturally rooted, localised approaches


09.30 Welcome from the Chair

Gareth Lewis, Director, Space Doctors


09.40 Decoding the Australian meaning of luxury

The luxury category is evolving from a narrow convention to an increasingly broad, dynamic, and diverse space. There’s an opportunity for brands to create new value by catering to a more diverse set of luxury expressions and evolving consumer needs.

Together with NewsCorp, Verve set out to explore the notion of luxury in the Australian market combining cultural analysis and semiotics-at-scale through Ignite AI. Join the conversation, with Verve and NewsCorp, as they discuss the approach and insights, before shifting the focus to the key breakthroughs and impact for NewsCorp.

Rikki Pearce, Managing Director, Verve Australia

Mirjam Grari, Associate Director, Future & Innovation, Verve Australia

In conversation with

Bethan Hockey, Research Director, NewsCorp


10.10 How Panasonic reframed men’s grooming through new codes of masculine self-care

Panasonic sought cultural and category insights for the launch of a men's multi-function grooming product in Europe and North America. This case study presents the journey of how, working with Bryter, they embarked on a project to identify enduring, positive masculine archetypes, analyse coding of customisability, simplicity and self-care and create a semiotic framework for category analysis.

Hear how the semiotic codes and archetypes are internally recognised as a breakthrough for Panasonic insights, innovation, and marketing teams and are supporting the development of culturally rooted and compelling messaging.

Dr Kishore Budha, Insights Director, Bryter

Dr Shane Hanson, Head of Insight & Innovation, Panasonic EU


10.40 Morning break


11.10 Panel: Strange bedfellows: semiotics & AI in the generative age

AI, generative language and image models will have a growing impact on visual culture. Join panellists as they consider the role and evolution of semiotics within an increasingly AI driven world.

  • Exploring the traditional tensions between semiotics and AI
  • Investigating the opportunities for overlap and innovation
  • Discussing the implications for generative models from a semiotic perspective


Nancy Hervey-Bathurst, Strategist,


Dr. Jennifer Simon, Associate Director & Semiotics Lead, Crowd DNA 

Dr. Bridget Dalton, Associate Director & Offer Development Lead,

John Wakefield, CTO,


11.45 From emergent to emergence; why we need more imagination in foresight

Semiotics and cultural analysis has always looked to the future. But what will be possible in the future is being shaped by a rapidly evolving context of multiple systems in collapse. Consequently, our ability to anticipate multiple possible futures is needed more than ever.

In this presentation Space Doctors will introduce innovative cultural foresight methods grounded in speculative and critical design to demonstrate how semiotics and cultural understanding must move beyond 'what's emergent' and engage more directly with the idea of 'what's possible'. The LEGO group will share how it thinks about different futures and how to create more positive and meaningful ones.

Cato Hunt, Director, Space Doctors

Roberta Graham, Director, Space Doctors

Chris Illsley, Global Insights Manager, the LEGO Group


12.15 Lunch


13.15 Using Semiotic language analysis to reduce stigma around gambling harms

GambleAware were looking to identify socially constructed sources of stigma related to gambling harms. The stigma of gambling harms is a proven barrier to support seeking alongside negatively impacting the wellbeing of those experiencing it.

This case study explores Sign Salad’s semiotic analysis of stigma in British culture, identifying visual and language material driving this process of stigmatisation, as well as a number of less prevalent, but more empowering cultural constructions.

Hear how the analysis has led to the production of an accessible language guide and helped to inform a programme of work by GambleAware which aims to reduce stigma in this area.

Aaron Chan, Semiotician, Sign Salad

Dan Riley, Research Lead for Advertising and Brand, GambleAware


13.45 From Diamond to Double-Helix: integrating semiotics and qual for Shiseido

This session will explore how Lucid and The Answer designed a deeply integrated approach that seamlessly combined qualitative methods with semiotics to help Shiseido understand which of its brand assets produced in Japan, EMEA, US and locally would most resonate with UK consumers.

Hear how the insights combined the bigger cultural picture of the meaning of premium skincare in different markets with a granular understanding of different personas and provided a clear set of practical, visual and messaging guidelines that could be used to grow engagement with the brand in the UK.

Dr. Nick Gadsby, Founder & Principal, The Answer

Maddy Morton, Director, Lucid

Florence Mornat, Head of Analytics, Media efficiency and Consumer Insights, Shiseido


14.15 Afternoon break


14.45 Navigating socio-cultural forces to deliver genuinely comparative and comparable insights

Social data, as evidenced in consumer-generated conversations and media usage, serves as both a mirror and an amplifier of societal trends, values and behaviours. Understanding the wider cultural contexts that shape any level of conversation, from simple brand preference to nuanced political and social attitudes, is vital when delivering multi-market projects.

Drawing from a wide range of social data-driven cross-cultural projects, Convosphere will spotlight methods to unearth meaningful cultural insights and, in particular, prevent the

misinterpretation of quantitative results.

Oliver Lewis, Research Director, Convosphere


15.15 Using Semiotic insight to cement Baileys’ status as a worldwide treating leader

In 2016, Baileys set a new ambition: to become the world’s leading adult treat brand, aiming to transcend its category and tap into the broader world of delicious treats. From the start of this transformation, Baileys has integrated semiotic insight into every facet of the brand, from brand world and creative messaging to innovation strategy, packaging design and localised cultural activations.

Examine how a localised, progressive approach which mapped emergent semiotic spaces against key treating occasions identified priority opportunity moments that could supercharge growth resulting in a successful activation of the treating strategy in markets all across the globe from Mexico to the UK and from Canada to Nigeria.

Cecily Long, Senior Strategy Director, TRIPTK

Sheila Cunningham, Global Planning Director, Baileys


15.45 Closing comments from the Chair


15.55 End of conference

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