Sign Salad was delighted to present at the Market Research Society’s recent 2023 Semiotics and Cultural Insight conference.

This inspiring and diverse day included a wide array of case studies and discussions looking at everything from soap operas to takeaways, and cancer testing to Lego displays.

Adding to this engaging mix, we were delighted to present our collaboration with Pernod Ricard, an analysis of the changing meanings of the cultural value of Progress in the US, France, Australia and Japan for their G.H. Mumm champagne brand.

Pernod Ricard and Sign Salad have partnered on a number of projects, helping to resolve various strategic challenges, including an investigation of the language of flavour descriptors for whisky which won the 2020 MRS Cultural Insight award.

Project Objective:

The case study we presented at the conference highlights the profound impact that cultural foresight and semiotic analysis can have at both a strategic and executional level for an iconic international brand. The multi-market project explored the changing cultural codes of Progress with a view to G.H. Mumm embodying this value both strategically and across communication touchpoints.

Approach and Evidence:

Our talk explored how a combination of inputs encompassing both cultural Semiotics and an analysis of social listening data were used to dissect the notion of Progress and identify changing meanings and cultural differences between the markets.

For example, we illustrated how dominantly Progress is communicated as a rigid single direction, illustrated through language like “ahead” and “step forward” or imagery such as arrows suggesting a sense of continual forward movement. Increasingly however, cultural references to “unlearning” or the importance of taking time to pause for reflection, and circular imagery of feedback processes reflect the growing acceptance of Progress as embracing ideals of fluid reassessment, within which exploring alternative routes and actively revisiting elements of the past, can serve as a means to a better future.


Our findings were further refined by using the key brand archetype of the ‘Explorer’, which enabled us to identify and nuance the most pertinent cultural insights to articulate G.H. Mumm’s brand purpose and drive forward the brand strategy. Our recommendations have already influenced website copy, packaging design, and social media posts, and are continuing to inform ongoing strategic brand direction.


Cultural change can often be rapid and bewildering, especially when considering diverse global markets. However, as this case study demonstrates, by unpacking micro level changes and drilling down from these to understand their deep-rooted underlying meanings, we can help brands to develop durable communication strategies, built on lasting cultural needs. This approach ensures that brands can adapt their communications and packaging, etc. to sympathetically communicate in alignment with shifting cultural needs.

Overall, our session illustrated the powerful potential of cultural foresight and semiotics as a methodology to unpack complex cultural constructions and provide clear and actionable guidance to address profound brand challenges. As our client Joseph commented:

“Cultural and semiotic insight has made a positive difference, both strategically and creatively to many of our ongoing challenges and also has really helped us at G.H. Mumm understand how to become more future ready and more importantly benefit from the evolving cultural context…this becomes easier by having such thorough and nuanced research, and a semiotic partner who really understands luxury, the prestige champagne category, and also our brand, inside out”

Joseph Chan – Global Head of Consumer Insights & Marketing Effectiveness – G.H. Mumm & Perrier-Jouët Champagne, Pernod Ricard

Watch the short highlight video here.

Watch the full video here.

Mark Lemon, Associate Director

Cultural Codes of Progress: The Market Research Society’s 2023 Semiotics and Cultural Insight Conference