Dr. G. Clotaire Rapaille is an internationally known expert in Archetype Discoveries and Creativity. His unique approach to marketing combines a psychiatrist's depth of analysis with a businessman's attention to practical concerns.  He has written more than ten books on these topics.  One of his books, Creative Communication, has become the standard reference for the French advertising industry.  He is a sought-after lecturer on creativity and communication.

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Dr. G. C. Rapaille

Dr. G. C. Rapille: Articles and Blogs


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Create a Corporate Myth

     Your corporate culture is built around a series of concepts. Every corporation has its own heroes, villains, rituals, symbols, and myths built within the structure of its corporate culture.
     In changing a corporate culture, it helps to create new myths (a myth is a story that works by itself to establish cultural norms).
     Several years ago, I was helping a company in Madrid, Spain that wanted to change their corporate culture - which was to be based on quality and "right on time."
     My observation was that the executives were giving the wrong signals to themselves and their employees. The executives were preaching "right on time," yet they always started their daily morning meetings late. No one ever offered an excuse for the lateness - it was just accepted and left unchallenged.
     After observing this practice, I told the president: "You need to create a myth by staging a powerful, memorable event." I told him to announce during a cocktail party, where all the executives and employees were present, that "starting tomorrow, the executive meeting will start on time, at 9:00am. If you are not there at precisely 9:00, we will lock the door and begin the meeting without you."
     When the president made the announcement, everyone was drinking and having fun and nobody paid much attention to him.
     The next day at exactly at 9:00, with no one in the boardroom but the president and myself, I told him: "Lock the door."
     "We never do that," he said.
     "I know, but you need to do it now to create a powerful, memorable experience for everyone who is late. This will prove that you mean business."
     "Okay, if you think so." He replied with a confused shrug.
     After locking the door, the president and I started the executive meeting - without the executives.
     Around 9:30a.m, the first vice-president arrived. He tried to enter, but the door was locked. He knocked, hearing our voices from inside, but we ignored his questions and pleas. After several attempts, he went and spoke with the president's secretary.
     "What's going in there?"
     "They're having the 9:00 meeting."
     "Without me?"
     "Yes sir. The president announced that the meeting would be precisely at 9:00am and, at exactly that time, they locked the door and started the meeting"
     The second vice-president arrived about 9:45a.m, followed closely by the third and the fourth. Soon the corridor was filled with all the vice-presidents and executives who usually attended the morning meeting, all standing awkwardly in front of the locked door.
     When the secretary saw what was happening, she immediately started calling the other secretaries.
     "You know what happened? They locked the door! Yes, at 9:00, just as the president announced last night… Yes, he did what he said he would do. Can you believe that?"
     Instantly, everyone within the company started talking, repeating to anyone who had not heard about the strange event occurring in the boardroom.
     Suddenly the whole company was aware that the president meant business.
     At 10:00, the president opened the door and said "hello" to everyone waiting in the corridor. He then told them, "Next meeting is tomorrow at 9:00a.m. I'll see everyone tomorrow morning".
     Nothing else was said.
     The next morning, the employees were wondering what would happen. Some of them were on the phone, ready to tell the ones who were not there what was going on. Everyone was abuzz… discussing what would happen at 9:00.
     At 8:50a.m, the president and I arrived at the boardroom.
     At 8:55 all the vice-presidents and other executives arrived.
     The secretaries and other employees could not believe what was happening. Immediately, the whole company knew about it and a "myth" was created.
     Today, they tell the story to the new employees as an example that the president means what he says. Over time, like most myths, the story has been amplified and exaggerated. The president became a hero, a man of his word.
     The myth was now one of the building blocks for the company's new culture.


Special Holiday Message for Saab

    I know what I want for Christmas!!!
    I want Saab.
    Give me Saab, and I will save it and make it prosper again.
    Why me? I have been working for most of the car makers in the world (GM, Chrysler, Honda, Renault, Citroen, Ford… and Fortune magazine labeled me the "Car Shrink." Not only do I psychoanalyze cultures, but I also psychoanalyze cars and brands. I have done this work around the world – in Europe, North and South America, China, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Brazil, Russia, etc.
    Beside that, I love cars… I have a passion for them, I collect them.
    My work has been used to design and sell the PT cruiser (2.5 million cars sold - click HERE to read the Wall Street Journal article).
    Why Saab? This is a fantastic brand and we should not let it die. This is a brand which has a tribe of loyal followers and represents the core value of the Swedish culture. This is the image of Sweden in the world; this is an element of the Swedish contribution to the world. We cannot let it die.
    Why Now?
    The world is tired of generic cars… all coming from the same platform, and having no identity (this is how GM killed Saab). The time of management by engineers is over (see what they did to Detroit and GM). Now is the time of Marketers, and Anthropologists, who understand the symbolic added value of a Brand and why people want to be loyal to their brand (people do not buy a brand, they JOIN A BRAND). Marketers understand what people want and why they want it. The new world has moved. The new markets are called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and I have been studying and doing business in these countries for years. They want a strong brand with a strong identity, and they have the money.... and they are going to want a Saab again.
    So, what do I wish for:

  • $1 dollar a year salary (one)
  • 25 percent of the shares in stock option at today price value.
  • Total power to take the company where it has to go, and to negotiate with all stake holders (banks, distributors, employees, suppliers) of the company.
  • The freedom to choose my team and all justifiable expenses paid.
  • Total support from the Swedish government.
  • A medal if I succeed (symbolic recognition).
  • When can we start?


    We should have an emergency meeting in Trollhättan, Sweden, ASAP and have a damage assessment meeting, a resource evaluation (what is left?), and have a BRAND resurrection plan based on the higher purpose of the brand, (what element of the Swedish culture is the Brand responsible to perpetuate?)
    I hope the descendants of Bernadotte will be proud of me.
    I know this is Christmas and one can dream!!! But Jan-Åke Jonsson (Saab) Swedish Deputy Minister Maud Olofsson and Undersecretary of State Joran Hagglund should be on my side.


Saab Follow up article…

    My letter about my Christmas wish got so many emotional responses, that I have to give it a follow-up.
    First I want to thanks all of those who gave me their support… from Faith Popcorn to my Friends at Boeing. Then Swedish journalists asking me if I was serious… if I, the “car shrink” had ever run a car company in the past, if I was an engineer and if I had the financing?
    In case I was not clear enough, I want to reiterate my statement: Madness is thinking that more of the same is going to give different results.
    Saab is not going to be rescued by financial wizards (look what these so-called financial wizards did to all the big financial institutions of Wall Street); Saab is not going to be rescued by Engineers (look what they did to GM and Chrysler).
    So my first qualification is that I am NOT one of “THOSE” guys, and I am not going to do just more of the same. How are we going to save Saab?
    By using talented people who understand what the car buying consumer wants.
    All the engineers and finance guys should acknowledge their failures and leave. Let the marketers, the anthropologists, the psychologists and sociologists who know how to "decode" the collective unconscious and understand that Brands Have a Code and that you have to respect it, take it over.
    I am surprised that none of theses talented people are on the board of the car companies.
    I was overwhelmed by the support I got from all over the world from brilliant people who sent me e-mails telling me "we are with you and will work with you." And this was between Christmas and New Year's Eve, when nobody is at work. I can't imagine how my e-mail is going to look on Monday, January 4, when everyone is back in the office!
    So what’s next?

  1. Wait until it's over.

  1. Then create an internet site where the members of the tribe are going to create the next Saab (an online “Idea Lab” – which my friend from P&G can do).

  1. Offer a $25 000 award for the best designs.

  1. Give scholarships to the winners to create the "On Code Saab Design and Creative Centre" in Sweden on an island given by the government for 49 years.

  1. Create – immediately – a shadow cabinet to run the Saab resurrection project, with NO "generic" engineers, and NO financial ex-geniuses… including members of the tribe, the fan club, and the best Minds in the world who understand what people want.

  1. Use all the new tools – like Twitter, blogs, websites, Facebook, MySpace, guerrilla marketing, PR, create a new story every day… maybe ever create a Saab reality show on TV.

  1. Discover what the Symbolic added value of the Saab brand is, and the Saab Code (which has to be respected).

  1. What part of the Swedish culture is Saab responsible for?
    People told me "you are a dreamer – this is impossible."
    That is what nonbelievers said to John Kennedy when he said: "Let’s put a man on the moon."
    So if it is impossible, let's do it!

Dr. G. C. Rapaille
Archetype Discoveries Worldwide

Energy Independent
Words to Open the Future

Archetype Discoveries Worldwide

     The New Deal. The Great Society. A man on the moon.
     These are key words.
     Reconstruction is not. It's like going back… to the past. America needs a new challenge, a new set of key words. We are the leading consumers in energy and we are energy dependant. Art Williams created an Empire twenty years ago by finding the right key word. He said - financial independence. Today we need a new leader who will say: I had a dream, I have seen the future of America and it is…
Energy Independence
     Nobody is going to blackmail us any more, and we are going to be proud of our values and principles again. It is a new declaration of independence. INDEPENDENCE is an American Archetype; but energy is another one. We are the adolescence of the world. We don't want to have less energy (try "less" as a key word with your adolescent children). We don't want "hybrid" if it means half. We will always want more: more power, more speed, more money, bigger houses, bigger cars. But we will always want to be independent. Let's use our ingenuity, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship spirit to create the energy of the future that will make us energy independent to enjoy the American lifestyle. It is not less, it is more. On a pure American spirit, it is a breakthrough.
     Cars represent products and technology which are more than… 100 years old. Cars are old, obsolete products. What a lack of imagination to still make 19th century cars with 19th century ideas. Cheap oil has atrophied our imagination. Let's put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. WOW? Let's make America energy independent before the end of the decade… that will be another, WOW!
     We need a new Manhattan project in which to put all the top entrepreneurial minds of the country on this. We need Executives like Jeff Immett, Bill Gates… to lead the charge.
     George Washington lost many battles, but he won the War of Independence. We have lost many battles on the energy front, but it is time to win the new war of independence and to create the new Energy Independent America.


Provocative Thoughts
Cultural Poetry

Archetype Discoveries Worldwide

Corporations can change the world
        Not bureaucrats
                Or politicians
        Nor environmental terrorists
                Or radical tree-huggers


Because bureaucrats, politicians and radicals
        are not in the NOW time.
They use junk science
        one alibi fits all.

Lets take some of their ideas

"Hurricanes come from global warming?"
        Not true:
                We had more hurricanes
                        at the beginning of the century

"Poverty creates criminals."
        Not true
                Highjackers are well off,
                        Educated Saudis
        Enron executives live in mansions.

"Everything that is bad today came from Bush"
        Come on
                He is not that powerful
These are pathetic,
        The more I listen to them,
                the more I love

FedEx, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, GE
        They save lives with
                Quick response,
                        Sleeping cells,
                                flying spares
Ready to react in a second,
        and, they will do even better
                Next time. 


Airport Insecurity

Archetype Discoveries Worldwide

     I'm for an open society. I'm for civil liberties, and I'm proud of our constitution. I even like a good joke once in a while.
     Here's one for you - and, like all jokes, based on exaggerated truth:

     I read in the paper today that the United States Post Office has announced that they were recalling the new FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Security postage stamp. Why? It seems that people were spitting on the wrong side.

    The problem with airport insecurity - I mean, security - is that it's not a joke anymore. In fact, it's anything but funny. The whole notion of airport security has become a disaster, with everyone either trying to cover up their mistakes or blaming other organizations for their lack of… organization.
     On January 04, 2010, I read that Newark Liberty International Airport was on an immense lockdown after a security breach. Thousands of travelers were stranded for nearly six hours inside the airport terminal after a security guard (on a cell phone, of course) left his post, allowing a lovelorn man to enter through the exit (so he could give his girlfriend one last kiss before she left). And, to add more insult to injury, the security cameras at that location were not even working and had been out of commission for some time.
     Are you laughing yet?
    Then there's the incident that happened on Christmas Day, 2009. A passenger boarded a plane in Amsterdam, headed to Detroit, with pentaerythritol and triacetone triperoxide in his underwear. The man was headed to Detroit, during the middle of winter, and he didn't even have a COAT!
    Any warning signs there?
    Then there's the incident in Atlanta where a arriving passenger forgot his camera bag on the plan, so he ran through the airport exit and up the down escalator to retrieve the bag. His explanation - he didn't want to be late for a football game… Or in Oakland,  where flights were delayed and bomb-sniffing dogs brought in after a man walked the wrong way through an airport exit… or, maybe you heard about the incident at the terminal in Miami, where two passengers walked past a sleeping security screener.
    Still not laughing yet?
    Did you know that an airport security screener is considered an entry level position? To become an airport security screener all you need is to be 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and have a high school diploma; speak English well, since you will be communicating with the general public (which requires good customer service skills) as they pass through the security check-points of the terminal; and attend a 12 hour instructional class (to educate you on the use of the equipment and your other duties).
    So, if this sounds like a position for you, all you need to do is fill out an employment application… which they usually keep at any security checkpoint.
    We even have "unnamed" employees belonging to the Federal Aviation Administration who claim that for years since 9/11 there has been security cover-ups and shortcomings at almost every major international airport… and the public is never made aware of them.
    Because airport security employees continue to protect each other, while pointing and casting blame on others, all at the expense of YOUR safety.
    And, when something does happen - like the incident at Newark International Airport - everyone from the top of the ladder to the lowest rung begins pointing fingers and casting blame on everyone but the true culprit… the SYSTEM.
    A system that everyone acknowledges is broken, but is doing nothing to fix it.
    Are you laughing yet?
    I know I'm not.


How to Enjoy a Recession

      Let me be the first to say it: The time to panic is NOW.
     The mad cow has replaced the French poodle; swine flu has become the H1N1 virus (so we can keep the pork industry political correct); and "foot in mouth" disease has run rampant worldwide, creating an unstoppable global pandemic that has crossed all social and economic boundaries… global warming has become the next ice age… and poverty has become the national past time… and the list goes on and on…
     So is it time to buy or to sell in such a repressed market? Or maybe it's time to relax in the Caribbean (take advantage of all this global warming)? How about taking a moment for yourself and enjoy a peaceful moment of Zen meditation… or learn to play the piano or violin (if you don't already)… how about another language (Spanish or Chinese would be a good start)?
     Or, maybe you should be like everyone else worldwide and do nothing for a while.
     Take your time before you buy or invest. Make sure that the stock market and real estate is at an all time low, scraping the bottom of the government's "pork barrel" before doing anything. Wait and see… and then take advantage of all the hardships your neighbors are suffering through.
     This is the American Archetype in action. The financial and political bubble lasted far too long for our liking. Those times became boring and tedious… everyone was becoming millionaires so quickly and easily that we forgot that only the paranoid (those who kept looking to the future, saving for that "rainy day") could survive.
     We needed a recession to put everything back in perspective, to become "real" again… to learn from our mistakes.
     During the "naughty" decade (sticking with the 0's theme of 2000, it seems appropriate to refer to this decade as the Naught - zero - decade, which is a clever witticism on the "Not" decade, which is appropriate considering how badly the decade will be remembered) it looked like we could not make any mistakes. We were getting spoiled; we could not learn anymore because we knew it all already. How dare someone try and teach us something new (unless it consisted of handheld technology that could only push us all further away from actual human contact, providing us the opportunity to never have to be face-to-face with anyone).
     But, in actuality, it has become clear that we needed the pain of a recession more than the gain to wake us from our dream and return us back to reality.
     We needed a good recession (like the Europeans used to say that they needed a good war). This is the American collective unconscious in action. Let's get our priorities straight. This is not the end, this is the real beginning. Until now we were only playing, like children enjoying a game… but, now that we have touched bottom, we are serious.
     For example: we needed the Russians to be first in space, so we could be first to the moon… we needed Pearl Harbor to win World War II… we love a crisis, a catastrophe, and even a natural disaster to make us feel alive. These tragic incidents pull us together. They unite us around our archetypal forces and thanks to them we become one hell of a nation again.
     During the last decade, we forgot that we were the last best hope for mankind and not just another big money machine without a soul.
     So, with the American financial crisis in full swing, we have to go on a retreat for a while to reconnect with what made us the biggest, most powerful country in the history of modern times. We have to look at the problem through a new set of eyes, a new set of glasses and start all over again… as the true American archetype is coded to do.
     Let's take time to enjoy the recession.
     It is a fantastic opportunity for Americans to move further up the spiral of growth toward their next identity… their next GREAT challenge.
     It is time to reconnect with the American archetype because this is what people do in a time of crisis. They go back to the basics… to familiar brands, to safe buying behaviors and moving back to the "logic of life."
     Countries, governments, and companies with archetypal knowledge will thrive.
     So it is time to remember and understand the codes for quality, loyalty, teams and leadership and to put them back in action.
     And remember these obvious, but forgotten, words of wisdom…
     Never sell when it's low and never buy when it's high.



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