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How DDB Latina’s Culture Lab Uses Data to Find Brands’ Advantages

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Kiara Utrera, data strategist at DDB Mexico and DDB Latina’s Culture Lab coordinator discusses finding the unexpected through data with LBB’s Ben Conway

How DDB Latina’s Culture Lab Uses Data to Find Brands’ Advantages


The Culture Lab is DDB Latina's regional unit of people and processes that uses data to understand consumers and the culture across the Latin regions - from the US to Latin America, to Spain -  to generate brand opportunities for its clients. It provides data analysis on what’s happening in the industry and communities surrounding 14 different DDB Latina offices, and evaluates its impact on consumers’ lives to generate an effective differential input for the agencies’ creative processes. 

Through its cultural listening and monitoring tools, whitepapers and monthly cultural exploration workshops across the network called ‘Culture Picnics’, the Culture Lab identifies products, services, and business models that can help DDB Latina’s clients generate competitive advantages within their markets.

To discuss how the Culture Lab is adding value and data to DDB Latina’s process, LBB’s Ben Conway caught up with the Lab’s coordinator, Kiara Utrera, who is also a data strategist at DDB Mexico. Speaking with Ben, she discusses how the unit is helping brands build a better world ethically, the importance of ‘humanising’ data, and the social and economic trends shaping life and the industry in Latin nations worldwide.



LBB> Can you give us a quick brief on your journey into the industry so far and how you became the Culture Lab coordinator at DDB Latina?


Kiara> I began my career in the digital area. My first industry job was at a digital magazine, and from there I went to work for two digital agencies. I was working as the head of the social media department when I got the offer to become the coordinator of the social media lab for DDB Latina, which has now evolved into the Culture Lab. 



LBB> For the uninitiated, what is the Culture Lab? 


Kiara> The Culture Lab is the regional unit of the DDB Latina Group which specialises in the use of data to understand consumers and culture - in order to generate opportunities for brands. It was conceived as a laboratory to experiment, innovate and move at the speed of culture.

This division has a presence in 14 DDB Latina offices including in the LATAM, US and Spanish regions, and is led by the strategy team from each office. This gives us the opportunity to work with a very diverse range of talented people. Thanks to the Culture Lab tools, we cover all the different angles of cultural and business understanding, such as social listening, audience understanding, trend discovering, business intelligence, benchmarking and influencer marketing, among others.



LBB> How do you use data in the Culture Lab? What are some new innovations or strategies with data that you currently see in the industry?


Kiara> As a story published by The Economist a couple of years ago stated, ‘The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data’. That is truer now more than ever. However, data is only useful if we understand what's behind it. In the Culture Lab, we aim to go beyond the data and get the whole picture of what is really moving the world. I believe one of the most important innovations and something that we aim to do at the Culture Lab is humanising data. Yes, we have all this technology and information, but what truly moves people are emotions, and what we mustn’t forget - in our industry - is that we are storytellers. 



LBB> How does the Culture Lab identify competitive advantages for a client? How do you find and develop the services and business models that will work best for each business?


Kiara> We understand each client is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We use different methodologies and tools to analyse what’s happening in culture and from there, we always search for different perspectives and ideas to understand what’s the best opportunity for brands to find the unexpected.



LBB> Socially, economically, and otherwise, what are the trends shaping life in Mexico and DDB Latina’s other regions right now and how are they impacting your work with your clients?


Kiara> The greatest trends that are shaping and impacting people’s lives and their relationships with brands are sustainability and inclusivity. In today’s world, involvement in these subjects is a must for brands. Consumers are demanding that brands be socially responsible, and that they help build a better world - so the challenge for us, as strategists, is to find solutions for clients that are both ethical and profitable.

A great advantage of the Culture Lab is that we have a lot of different tools that we can combine to truly understand our audiences. For instance, we have ‘Brandwatch’ and ‘Infegy’ for social listening, ‘Q’ and ‘Trendwatching’ to identify and analyse trends, and - of course - ‘Omni’, our proprietary tool that allows us to create and analyse customised audiences, among other things.



LBB> Can you talk to us about your monthly cultural exploration workshops? What do those look like, and how do they contribute to DDB Latina?


Kiara> The ‘Culture Picnic’ is a dynamic we created to collaborate between offices on a regular basis and create a resource library we can all consult when we need to. Each month, we have a different topic and every office shares what’s happening in their country, and what the different trends and opportunities are. Our latest paper was about ‘Generation Alpha’ - you can check it out here. 



LBB> Culturally, what can the industry be doing better to progress? And how does the Culture Lab and your digital strategy play a role in these improvements?


Kiara> We need to step away from stereotypes, generalisation, and any preconceived idea about our consumers. We need to understand them from a broader and more human, individualist perspective.

The Culture Lab philosophy is to understand culture to help brands, because the more we know what’s influencing people - what their passions and tensions are - the more effectively a brand can connect with them and have a positive impact on their lives. Brands can no longer be simple providers of products and services; they must play an active role in people's lives, and the way to do that is to truly understand them beyond any preconception.



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DDB Latina, Fri, 25 Nov 2022 16:56:00 GMT