G. Clotaire Rapaille

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

G. Clotaire Rapaille is a French-born medical anthropologist and psychiatrist who consults with American corporations. He uses a version of Jungian "archetype analysis," inspired by his work with autistic children, to tell companies what consumers want from their cars, coffee, toilet paper, artificial sweetener, luggage, cheese and political candidates.

Rapaille's theory asserts that one's decisions as to product purchases, political candidate preferences and the like are influenced by sub-conscious "imprints." These imprints, he says, are located within the reptillian brain.

"When you learn a word, whatever it is, 'coffee,' 'love,' 'mother,' there is always a first time. There's a first time to learn everything. The first time you understand, you imprint the meaning of this word; you create a mental connection that you're going to keep using the rest of your life. … So actually every word has a mental highway. I call that a code, an unconscious code in the brain." Dr. Rapaille from a PBS Frontline interview, December 15, 2003. [1]
"It's absolutely crucial for anybody in communication -- and that could be journalists, TV, media, all of it, or marketing people -- if you want to appeal to people, it's absolutely crucial to understand what I call the reptilian hot button. If you don't have a reptilian hot button, then you have to deal with the cortex; you have to work on price issues and stuff like that." [2]

In an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 25, 2004, Dr. Rapaille explains, "A car is a message. It has eyes, a mouth, a chin. It has a face, and that face speaks to you. The Hummer he explains is "a war machine," which says "if you want to fight, I can fight. But you will die. [3]

Other commercial ventures have picked up on archetypally based techniques, one, Brand Solutions, Inc., has trademarked what they do as "ArchetypalBranding™," defined on their web site as, "Branding, market research, and advertising services relating to the study and use of archetypes in advertising and marketing. Universal Archetypes - An inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious. An original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; a prototype. For example, the archetypes of the Hero and the Outlaw (e.g., Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies) are found in many myths, stories and movies." [4] Brand Solutions, Inc. touts it's services listing as clients -- Nokia, Motorola, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and others.

Rapaille and the tobacco industry

Rapaille Associates worked on Philip Morris' Archetype Project, an effort to study the emotional reasons why people smoke, presumably so the company could better leverage these emotions in advertising and promotions. Rapaille noted that typically peoples' first experience with smoking involved seeing an admired adult do it, and having feeling that that they were excluded from the activity and strongly wanting to be included. Rapaille ultimately linked smoking with adult initiation rituals, risk taking, bonding with peers and the need for kids to feel like they belong to a group and can partake in an "adult activity." His study states,

"The first imprinting of smoking is that adults do it, and I'm excluded...A critical element at this stage is the fact that the individual is on the 'outside,' excluded..."

Rapaille's report recommended to PM's marketing department the following findings:

Recommendations based on the Archetype:

  • Stress that smoking is for adults only
  • Make it difficult for minors to obtain cigarettes
  • Continue having smoking perceived as a legitimate, albeit morally ambiguous adult activity. Smoking should occupy the middle ground between activities that everyone can partake in vs. activities that only the fringe of society embraces.
  • Stress that smoking is dangerous. Smoking is for people who like to take risks, who are not afraid of taboos, who take life as an adventure to prove themselves.
  • Emphasize the ritualistic elements of smoking, particularly fire and smoke.
  • Emphasize the individualism/conformity dichotomy Stress the popularity of a brand, that choosing it will reinforce your identity AND your integration into the group.[5]

Rapaille's recommendations explain why PM supports--and advertises widely that it supports-- restricting sales cigarette sales to minors and moving cigarettes out of reach of kids.

Published Works

  • Archetyping the Presidency Unreleased as of Nov 2004, referenced in On The Media interview
  • 7 Secrets of Marketing in a Multi-Cultural World 2nd Edition March 2004
  • Social Cancer: Decoding the Archetype of Terrorism June 2003
  • The Quality Relationship Challenge: How Businesses Can Establish Relationships That Create Loyalty Out of Print Dec 1997

Contact information

Archetype Discoveries Worldwide 1150 NE 4th Avenue Boca Raton, Florida

Tel: (1) 561-3931900 Fax: (1) 561-3938906 Email: info@archetypediscoveriesworldwide.com http://www.archetypediscoveriesworldwide.com/

External links