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5 August 1941|
G Clotaire Rapaille, or Gilbert Clotaire Rapaille, is a marketing specialist. Born in France, he has a doctorate from La Sorbonne. He moved to the United States in the early 80s. Rapaille is also the CEO and Founder of Archetype Discoveries Worldwide, located in Palm Beach, Florida.
According to archived versions of his website, "Dr. Rapaille's technique for market research has grown out of his work in the areas of psychiatry, psychology, and cultural anthropology" and he "received a Masters of Political Science, a Masters of Psychology, and a Doctorate of Medical Anthropology from the Universite De Paris - Sorbonne."
However, several elements of his biography, including his client list and the field of his doctorate, were challenged in an investigation conducted by the newspaper Le Soleil in March 2010, following the award of a controversial contract to Rapaille by the city of Quebec. Though the inaccuracies in his résumé may have been publicly cited as a reason to cancel his contract, it more likely had to do with the conclusions of his research.
In addition to his books, he is known for advising politicians and advertisers on how to influence people's unconscious decision making. Rapaille's work identifies the unstated needs and wants of people in a certain culture or country as cultural archetypes.
Rapaille has a master's degree in political science and psychology and a doctorate in medical anthropology from the University of Paris–Sorbonne, and a Doctorate in Psychology.
Dr. Rapaille developed his theory on the brain after working as a psychologist for autistic children and studying Konrad Lorenz theory of Imprints and John Bowlby theory of attachment. This work led him to believe that while children learn a given word and the idea connected with it, they associate it with certain emotions. He called that primal emotional association an imprint. This imprint determines our attitude towards a particular thing. These pooled individual imprints make up a collective cultural unconscious, which unconsciously pre-organize and influence the behavior of a culture.
Rapaille subscribes to the triune brain theory of Paul D. MacLean, which describes three distinct brains: the cortex, limbic, and reptilian. Beneath the cortex, the seat of logic and reason, is the limbic, which houses emotions. Camouflaged underneath those is Rapaille's theorized brain—the reptilian.
Rapaille believes that buying decisions are strongly influenced by the reptilian brain, which is made up of the brain stem and the cerebellum. Only accessible via the subconscious, the reptilian brain is the home of our intrinsic instincts. It programs us for two major things: survival and reproduction. Rapaille proposes that in a three-way battle between the cortical, the limbic (home of emotion) and the reptilian areas, the reptilian always wins, because survival comes first. This theory has become the basis for his thoughts on what a product means to consumers on the most fundamental level.
His theory that culture get imprinted into the "Reptilian Brain" during early childhood has been heavily contradicted by scientific evidence. His practice of leading managers into regression sessions to tap into their unconscious in an attempt to discover a "code" word, has also been cited as "primitive" and has been heavily contradicted by scientific evidence.
Collective Cultural Unconscious
His consumer research seeks to understand what Dr. Rapaille has identified as the "collective cultural unconscious". In the opening of his book, 7 Secrets of Marketing, he says, "Cultures, like individuals, have an unconscious. This unconscious is active in each of us, making us do things we might not be aware of."  This collective cultural unconscious can be further defined as a pool of shared imprinting experiences that unconsciously pre-organize and influence the behavior of a culture.
Rapaille's claim of technique of "archetype discovery" stems from the psychoanalytic methods pioneered by the Viennese psychologist Ernest Dichter. This technique doesn't ask what people want, but why. These research methods focus on finding what he calls the “code”, the unconscious meaning people give to a particular product, service or relationship. Rapaille posits that sublimated emotional memories occupy a place between each individual's unconscious (Freud) and the collective unconscious of the entire human race (Jung).
Rapaille was hired in February 2010, at the approximate cost of $300,000, by Quebec City's mayor Régis Labeaume to analyze the city's image on an international level. But an article published by Pierre-André Normandin in Le Soleil de Québec revealed that Rapaille's client list and CV contained several falsehoods and exaggerations. Following those revelations his contract with Quebec City was terminated. The mayor terminated his contract early on March 29, 2010. Although he did not deliver, he negotiated with the city and got paid almost the entire sum.
Rapaille stated during his investigation he said that the city of Quebec has a masochistic side to it. He also claimed his mother listened to Félix Leclerc during WW2, before Felix Leclerc (a French-Canadian singer-songwriter and political activist) recorded his first album in 1951.
Rapaille and the tobacco industry
Rapaille Associates worked on Philip Morris's 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.
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.
- Culture Codes, published the 9th of April 2008
- Seven Secrets of Marketing in a Multi*Cultural WorldFirst Edition. Executive Excellence, Utah 2001 in English; Second Edition. Tuxedo Productions, New York 2004 in English
- Social Cancer (the code for Terrorism)Tuxedo Productions, New York 2003, in English
- Versteh' Deine ElternBucher, Munich, 1984, in German
- Comprendre Ses Parents Et Ses Grands ParentsMarabout, Paris, 1982 in French
- Escuchelo: Es Su HijoPomaire, Colección Libre, Barcelona 1981, in Spanish
- Le Trouple Editions Menges, Paris, 1980, in French
- Si Vous Ecoutiez Vos Enfants Editions Menges, Paris, 1978, in French
- La Communication Créatrice Editions Dialogues, Paris, 1976, in French
- Wisdom Of Madness Thomas Jefferson State College, Michigan State University, manuscript, 1975, in English
- La Relation Creatrice Editions Universitaires, Paris, 1973, in French
- La Relazione Créatrice Cittadella Editrice,1975, in Italian
- Laing Editions Universitaires, Paris, 1972 in French
- Analyse des Pratiques Medicales et des Croyances Liées a la Maladie et aux Soins Dans Quinze Communautes Cicaraguayennes Thesis Paris, Sorbonne, 1969 (220 pages) in French
- 2004 Frontline episode "The Persuaders"
- Version of www.archetypediscoveriesworldwide.com at the Wayback Machine (archived February 16, 2008)
- Clotaire Rapaille décrypté: un homme et sa légende, Le Soleil, March 27, 2010. Quote: "But the incongruities are not limited to his childhood. It is enough to look at his biography to discover several contradictions. Beginning with his doctorate. In the United States, he describes himself as a doctor of medical anthropology. However, in his books La relation créatrice and Je t'aime je ne t'aime pas, published in France in 1973 and 1974, he held himself out instead as a doctor of psychology."
- Premier contrat dans le public pour Rapaille, Le Soleil, March 27, 2010.
- , The Globe and Mail, March 11, 2010.
- Hartley, Tom (2000-05-08). "Cruisin' for the right look".
- Patton, Phil (2002-03-18). "Car Shrinks Forget rear-seat legroom. Automakers have decided that the key to higher sales lies in meeting your deepest emotional needs. Here come the". CNN.
- Wells, Melanie (2003-01-09). "Mind Games". Forbes.
- Rapaille, Clotaire (2007). Culture Code. Broadway. ISBN 978-0-76-792057-5.
- Cameron, Douglas (2010). Cultural Strategy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-958740-7.
- G. Clotaire Rapaille, 7 Secrets of Marketing, 9.
- Rapaille. "Marketing to the Reptilian Brain." Forbes 03 July 2006: 44. Business Source Premier. EBSCO. Web. 15 June 2010.
- Premier contrat dans le public pour Rapaille, Le Soleil, March 27, 2010. Quote: "At the beginning of February, the Frenchman and naturalized American went before the Quebec City press to try to quiet the controversy surrounding his $250,000 contract (plus $20,000 in expenses). In the meeting, he explained that he'd worked for several big cities, ranging from Singapore to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Macao (China), not to mention Paris (France) and Venice (Italy). [...] Except that no cities appear in his client list, available on his website. An omission which is easy to explain: 'It wasn't for the mayor, it was for clients,' he admitted in an interview with Le Soleil while he was in Quebec City this week. 'Working directly for the mayor, yes, it's the first time.' In fact, his work for a group of companies was not so much to improve the cities' images as to break the 'codes' of the city-states of Hong Kong and Macao, in China, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. Of all the clients named by Clotaire Rapaille on his website, there is only one government: that of French president Georges Pompidou. But how could his company, which was founded in 1976, have been hired by a statesman who died in 1974? Asked this, Clotaire Rapaille admitted that he did not work for the government, but instead for the foundation created in 1970 by the president's wife Claude Pompidou. [...] Clotaire Rapaille's client list contains more than 75 company names, including AT&T, Boeing, Pepsi, IBM, GM and Procter & Gamble, to name but a few. Though it was not possible to verify these companies individually, a former executive at Chrysler told Le Soleil how Rapaille had managed to put together an address book like that. [...] In fact, here is how the Frenchman by birth was able to obtain such an impressive list of clients. Rather than hiring him directly, 'non-competing' companies would come together to decipher some code."
- Quebec's mayor sacks French marketing whiz for being 'a failure', The Montreal Gazette, March 30, 2010.  "It was claims about himself that proved to be problematic, including about his war record. The Quebec City daily Le Soleil checked his claims and found discrepancies. In his first meeting with Quebec City reporters in February, Rapaille said his attachment to the province dates back to his wartime years in France. His father and grandfather were taken away by the Nazis, he recalled, and he listened to the records of Quebec singer Felix Leclerc, who became his spiritual father. But Rapaille was only four in 1945 when the war ended and Leclerc only became known in France after 1950. He has given varying accounts of the Liberation of France in 1944, when he was three, telling different interviewers that he rode an American tank in Normandy. In another version, he got his first taste of chocolate – which he still remembers – from a American G.I., as U.S. soldiers were known in the Second World War. In an alternate version, a G.I. gave him his first taste of chewing gum. And in a third version, Rapaille dedicated his 2006 book Culture Codes 'to that G.I., leaning from his tank, who gave me chocolate and chewing gum two weeks after the invasion.' Trouble is, Rapaille also admits that at the time he was living in Paris, which was liberated onl two months later."
- Culture Codes