Cultural Strategy Director or Associate Director (semiotics focus)
Type of Job
10 September 2023
About the company
FIREFISH WAS FOUNDED BY GROUP CEO JEM FAWCUS IN 2000.
Jem’s fundamental belief is that there’s often a better – and different – way for brands to understand the motivations and behaviours that direct and affect human experience.
Firefish has since grown to become a $17m group of specialist businesses. We have offices in London & New York and provide human strategy, insight and thinking, to brands around the world. We do this through our offices and our network of local market partners.
About the role
What we do
We are a strategic insight consultancy, working as Human Strategy Partners to some of the
world’s biggest brands such as Unilever, Stella Artois and Spotify. This means we help our clients make sense of real people in the real world and put it at the heart of their decision-
making, helping them innovate, communicate, and grow.
People are at the heart of what we do. Our Company was founded with the aim of being a
great place to work for all and we have a fantastic team of talented individuals supporting us.
Whatever your role at Firefish, we encourage you to keep exploring new ideas and to think
about different ways of solving problems, to get fresh results.
We are a community who look after and out for each other; looking after our mental
health is as much a priority as looking after our physical health. As well as providing health
care benefits to everyone in the company and access to an employee assistance
programme and trained mental health first aiders, we are also signatories of the Mindful
Business Charter, a framework for reducing unnecessary stress. We promise a philosophy
that promotes balance and wellbeing over long hours and burnout, and we seek to support
everyone to work in a style that suits them best. Our MD Daniel Rose, has been a
researcher at all levels of the business and knows what it’s like when work becomes
overwhelming. We won’t pressure you to take on too much, and we encourage and work
with everyone to ensure that workloads stay manageable.
It is important to us that our research and our workforce embraces the views and voices of
people from diverse backgrounds and communities. We want everyone across our Group to
feel they can come to work feeling valued and can thrive in their roles. Our Diversity and
Inclusion Action Plan accelerates our ambition to becoming an inclusive employer .
As an Equal Opportunities Employer, we welcome applications from individuals regardless of
age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic
background, religion and/or belief. Our offices are accessible, and we can make required
adjustments to suit individual needs. We want to know how we can make this the best
experience that it can possibly be from the moment we meet you!
Our social impact
We believe in making changes in our world for the better. For many years now we have been
developing our long-term commitment to reducing our environmental impact. We have
formed a dedicated employee Green Team who focus on embedding green practices within
our business and have been certificate holders of Environmental Management ISO
140001:2015 since 2009. We’re committed to the MRS net zero pledge and have transitioned
from our default pension investments into green investment funds. We want to continually
develop our social impact and we do this by allowing our employees dedicated time off to
contribute and give back to a social cause that is important to them, and by developing our
relationships with local charity and community partners.
Growth & Development
Nothing makes us happier than helping people grow and develop. We actively encourage –
and support everyone to take on development opportunities, grow within your role and gain
promotion when you are ready. We guide a process of continual feedback from managers and
encourage everyone to build their confidence in their roles so that they can feel supported in
their own career growth. Our range of specialisms within Firefish Group means that there are
lots of opportunities to explore & develop new skills and potential to nurture a long-term
career here too.
How we connect & have fun
We have always believed that Firefish (and work in general) should be a place where you can
meet new people, find friendships and inspiration, support and learning. In a world of hybrid
working, we look for ways in which we can come together across our Group, collaborate and
have some fun – in person as well as virtual! We have various ways in which we connect our
people across the company, from virtual meet ups and curious coffees, to intimate ‘Fish
Suppers’ or wider social gatherings. You will find yourself coming together with a load of
welcoming, warm and truly fascinating people
Who are we looking for?
• A Cultural Strategy Associate Director or Director with a methodological emphasis on semiotics for our
London office to continue to build on our past 20+ years success, working with clients such as Amazon,
Pinterest, Unilever, Spotify, VFC and Diageo, and to act as a key pillar of our growing Cultural Strategy
• The ideal person will have a proven track record in cultural analysis. They may think of themselves as a
“capital S” Semiotician or be a gifted cultural analyst with a sharp and strategic ability to identify cultural
codes, trends and narratives in the world around them. Either way, they will be able to translate broad
cultural data into strategic storytelling and implications with clarity and flair.
• They would ideally also be comfortable incorporating other data sources (consumer qual, quant, client data etc) – although they do not need to be practitioners of these.
• They will be comfortable driving work forward across multiple projects, trusted by clients and able to
navigate strategic conversations as well as tactical decision-making. The job will be a mix of delivering
existing client work and supporting you to grow and develop your own client relationships.
• They will also have strong writing skills and be excited to contribute to thought leadership in the form of
white papers, trend reports and social media posts. They will be a dab hand at crafting polished, engaging
copy that combines analytical rigour with passionate storytelling.
• We say Associate Director or Director, because we’re open to both. The roles are treated differently by
different agencies – what some agencies might call an Associate Director, we might call a Director, so we
don’t want to be too prescriptive. Essentially, it’s someone who’s probably got solid and demonstrable
experience, someone who’s confident leading projects and being the main client point of contact. You
might sometimes be working with a senior client account owner within Firefish, or sometimes
Cultural Strategy at Firefish
Culture describes the values, beliefs and behaviours that we share with our social groups. These are the
things that inspire us, mould us and determine our decisions. And the things that, in today’s fast moving and
fragmented media landscape, are subject to rapid, and sometimes bewildering, change.
And while it’s undeniable that culture can be complex, we believe that cultural strategy doesn’t need to be.
It’s all about finding your people and understanding what shapes them.
At Firefish we use Cultural Strategy to identify the cultures people live in, gaining a better understanding of
them and their influence – whether they are as small as someone’s most beloved reddit community, or as
big as their national identity.
We then apply this understanding to brands, helping them to create meaning, build engagement, and
navigate change. We help brands identify their home in culture and connect them with their audience’s
cultural worlds. Because culturally meaningful brands are powerful brands, and brands that last.
Cultural Strategy with a focus on semiotics
• You will be an experienced cultural strategist with a working knowledge of how to leverage semiotics to decode
culture and solve client problems – or alternatively a sharp and strategic approach to cultural trends analysis
Storytelling, presenting and writing
• You will be a confident presenter and storyteller able to turn complex and expansive data sets into clear,
human-centred and strategic stories
• You will be a polished, authoritative writer, able to produce long- and short-form content with precision and flair
Client relationships and new business development
• You will be confident with client communication, including how to negotiate any hurdles and manage expectations
• Able to develop and nurture accounts, with a strong understanding of the client’s business and category trends
• Actively look for ways to expand existing client relationships, taking the initiative to seek new opportunities
Proposals and costings
• You’ll be able to create and write effective and winning proposals, with minimal input or direction from more senior
• You’ll understand financials and be able to confidently cost proposals
• You will be able to proactively plan for key project milestones – managing expectations of senior and executive
team members, providing clear delegation and guidance including an awareness of project budgets
Analysis & debriefing
• You will have the ability to be a driving force in thinking, creating frameworks for discussion, drawing out the best
from executive to senior team members
• You will be able to write a debrief to a finished or ‘almost finished’ level, with executive and senior input as and
where relevant, including the creation of strategic outputs that pave crystal clear pathways to action for our clients
• Can regularly lead on presenting debriefs to senior clients
People and line management
• You will be able to line manage executive-level team members guiding them to meet their objectives
Can be a trusted advisor for the executive team, offering mentorship, guidance and support both on and off projects
• Proven ability in all aspects of leveraging semiotics or cultural analysis to deliver cultural strategy projects
(i.e., delivering winning proposals, strong and strategic analysis skills, clear and engaging client
• Ideally some experience blending disciplines to tell more comprehensive stories (quant, qual, data etc) –
although not essential
• Some experience developing existing client relationships and bringing in new client relationship. This is
desirable, but not essential, for less experienced AD candidates
If this sounds like you (an experienced and imaginative cultural analyst with a flair for turning diverse cultural data sets into inspiring and impactful strategic insights), then please send your CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Cultural Strategy Director’ as the subject line, and someone will get back to you.