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What we love about Christmas in Dear Old Blighty

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As another gloomy year draws to its end in Brexit Britain, we are still here and have no intention to pack our bags, spouses, kids and, last but not least, our beloved boutiK, to ship them off to other shores. In fact, what better time than Christmas to remind ourselves of just some of the things we love about this island.

The Brits love their traditions and customs, and so do we. To non-natives, the array and nature of customs can be truly mind-boggling and why certain things must be done in a certain way, again and again, and why that even matters, does not make much sense at first sight (nor at second or third!).

Christmas time is ripe with traditions everywhere, but here are our top 3 British ones that we have, in vain, tried to explain to our family and friends on the continent who continue to look on in amazement.

On third place, the CHRISTMAS CRACKER

Dating back to the Victorian age, the Christmas Cracker is a must for every Christmas dinner. Looking like a giant sweet in a Christmas wrapper, each dinner guest invites the person next to him or her to pull on the other side of the contraption which then explodes with a surprise bang and reveals a coloured paper crown (to be worn, without fail, by each dinner guest), a toy (mostly of the cheap, plasticky kind) and a joke which is shared with the rest of the table. Christmas cracker jokes are usually not funny. In fact, they must contain a question and play on words which is, ideally, cringe-worthy. To give you a taster, one of most popular 2016 cracker jokes went like this: Q: What’s David Cameron’s favourite Christmas song? A: All I Want For Christmas is EU.

No more said.

On second place, the CHRISTMAS PANTO.

The Christmas pantomime (short “panto”) is a Christmas theatre play for the whole family. The plot is usually based on a children’s story (such as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty) and has no relation to Christmas at all. It has also no relation to pantomime, to make things even more confusing. Whatever the story, there must be “the goodies” (e.g. the handsome prince and princess), the “baddie”, some talking animal (like two people dressed up as a cow) and, crucially, the “dame” played by a man dressed up as a woman. The big pantos often include a celebrity, preferably one without any acting background. The audience participation is crucial, whereby the audience shout out to the actors, either reacting to cues or, more commonly, because it’s always done that way, every year at every panto. For instance, if the baddie is behind the dame or the goodie, the audience will shout, “He’s behind you”. They will then turn around, trying to see who’s there, but missing him every time, followed by the obligatory “No, he’s not!” and the audience’s response “Yes, he is!”. There are also plenty of songs to sing along too and, of course, a lot of corny jokes.

Confused? No worries, so were we! But, we are totally converted and agree that Christmas is not complete without a good ol’ panto.

And our number one, the CHRISTMAS JUMPER.

It wouldn’t be real Christmas in the UK without the silly jumpers. Although the tradition of wearing wintery knits originated in Scandinavia, they quickly became very popular with Brits with their quirky and playful humour. The more naff the design, the better. It is estimated that one in five British people will don a Christmas jumper on the big day.

And so will we! Our brand new red jumpers are already waiting for the big day!

Let them keep us cosy for many more Christmas days on this island to come!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas & a very happy 2018! And if you need cheering up, click on the link below to see us singing (badly!) a Christmas carol for you. But hey, at least we look good in our silly jumpers! 😉

Lots of festive love,


“If you change nothing, nothing will change”

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Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has promised to clean up India by 2019. But, open defecation continues to be a common practice esp. in rural areas. Much has been tried to flush it out – various government campaigns (which went unheard), subsidies to install toilets (which often disappeared into the underworld of regional and local government) and, worst of all, local campaigns that focused on mockery and humiliation of those still taking to the woods and grasslands for their daily business.

Sometimes, even the most obvious messages do not hit the mark. Whether it is a new exciting insight or a plain consumer truth – that may not be earth-breaking but critical, we all know that messages can get diluted, lost and ignored as they make their journey from the insights team to the inner workings of an organisation and then back out to the customer.

I’m sure boutiK is not alone in experimenting with different ways to present and summarise research results, eternally chasing the holy grail of getting heard loud and clearly. Oh yes, we too have produced various forms of the “$100,000” slide (i.e. a $100k research reported in one slide, originally a request by a very dear client way over a decade ago), with – admittedly – varying success.

More recently we have been experimenting with video – and we like it! And, more importantly, our clients like it too. Beautifully designed but blatantly authentic, our little productions tell the story, push the key messages, create excitement and engage the audience.  All this in just few minutes. And, they are easily shared. Our latest compilations have travelled the globe and up and down our clients’ organisations. What’s not to love?

Perhaps film will also come to the help of Mr Modi. Through sharp humour and endearing characters, “Toilet – a love story” tells the story of a newly married Indian woman refusing to move in with her in-laws unless they install a toilet at home, in true Bollywood style. Released in August, the film has been a financial success so the message is being heard. Whether actions will follow, of course, only time will tell.

Likewise, it’s too early for us to gauge the impact of our directing debuts. There’s never time for complacency at boutiK and we will continue to explore and experiment. But, a promising start has certainly been made. And, in the words of one of the toilet story’s protagonists: “If you change nothing, nothing will change”

PS: your blog’s author is proud of her toilet puns – how many can you spot?

If you are only going to do one step, make it a perfect one…

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Hampton Hill, boutiK HQs

Over the last few years at boutiK, Thursday evenings have had a Latin flair. No, we don’t do focus groups on salsa sauce and we also do not start the weekend early with a few mojitos (not that we would say ‘no’ to either…). Instead we are perfecting our Argentine Tango skills, which we started learning last year.

We have to be honest, the beginnings were not easy and our first milongas (Argentine tango dance evenings) were truly nerve-racking. Luckily our inspiring and very patient teachers Farhad & Lucy kept on telling us not to panic and just enjoy it. Just like boutiK, they believe in quality over quantity and Farhad likes to remind us that it’s ok if we only know how to perform one step…as long as we do that one perfectly.

In fact, the perfect first step has been a bit of a theme at boutiK at the beginning of the year.

We’ve been off to a busy start, not just because of a few exciting projects but also thanks to a flurry of requests for workshops and category summary reports. And quite rightly so. Isn’t the start of a new year a good time as any to take stock of what is already known, building on existing learnings, developing insights, identifying gaps and validating directions  – and therefore making the most of future research to come?

So, we’ve dived deep into existing reports and discovered new treasures and twists. We’ve perfected the perfectly succinct summary. And we are enjoying designing and running insights, ideation and team engagement workshops.

Just a single step in the process each time but if done perfectly, it’ll take you a long way. If this holds true for boutiK’s tango, only time will tell. Watch this space….:)

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