Our thinking

Culture Roundtable

The relationship between brands and culture in 2024, and how to play a meaningful and valuable role

Over the past few months we’ve hosted a series of roundtable discussions looking at the relationship between brands and culture in 2024, and how to play a meaningful and valuable role. Something evermore important given the growing issues and onslaught of misery-stats facing the arts, creativity and culture-at-large.  

It’s a topic we’re passionate about, and have worked on campaigns from Wray & Nephew’s Wray Forward to Ballantine’s True Music Fund (pictured) to bring real impact to culture and communities. So in order to run towards solutions, we pulled together some of our favourite people working on the cultural front-line, from artist unions to labels to venues to journalists. We heard the issues being faced first-hand and chopped up what brand involvement can and should look like. 

Off the back of this we pulled together a run-down of ten key points covered together. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but we hope it inspires others as we all try to make a better impact with our work. Sign up here to join us for the next set of roundtables launching soon… 

The building blocks

Culture is in a moment of transition, with old orthodoxies falling away and new ideas coming to the fore. Artists and creative communities are increasingly focused on autonomy, engaging with brands strictly on their own terms. And savvier consumers - 50% of whom think “brand purpose” is really about publicity [Mindshare, 2023] - are looking beyond festival lineups and media headlines, questioning how culture is produced and consumed on a structural level. As we look ahead, there’s exciting opportunities, and audience appetite, for brands to support culture in deeper, more equitable ways.

Mind the lightbox

A recurrent theme from both sides of the conversation was a desire for more transparency: culture creators learning more about when and where to pitch to brands (e.g. budget-setting in August and September), and brands making sure that their culture-led campaigns are really connecting with people. It’s all about making that relationship more organic, and less transactional, not just sticking a branded lightbox in front of everything - vital when only 13% of Gen Z trust big brands [Warm Street, 2024]. But there was a recognition that different skills can dovetail rather than overlap - let creatives create, and let marketers market.

Keeping C Suite sweet

Convincing senior stakeholders to engage with culture can be a challenge, but working with outside partners can help to bring that value to life. Where brands can be brilliant on the quantitative side, cultural experts can help with the qualitative evidence: those tiny, magical moments or insights which can support and encapsulate the wider facts and figures, making them real for those upstairs.

Weathering the churn

Driving serious cultural relevance requires long-term strategy, even when internal turnover churns things up. The key is building frameworks that can weather changes in personnel or priorities: bringing in external voices to solidify the audience truths at the heart of what you do can make all the difference. It’s about owning your space and your story: know what you’re really about, and it becomes easier for culture campaigns to stick.

Serious doesn’t equal sombre

From touring costs to ticket sales, to the loss of 123 venues in 2023 alone, today’s threats to culture are serious, complex and existential: there are opportunities everywhere for brands to deliver profoundly meaningful, life-changing interventions for artists and audiences alike. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, or that our storytelling has to be dour and joyless. Culture is beautiful, and should be celebrated! Small actions - even at the fun and whimsical end of things - can still have an incredible effect.

Phasing Returns

Further help in managing internal stakeholders comes through phasing the expected results. Some parts of the strategy might be tactical, delivering immediate short-term results. Other elements might not see benefit for multiple years. It’s about having a mixed output to acknowledge the direct brand needs, whilst thinking long-term. Cultural strategy can be both long, and short, delivering results across the spectrum of commercial needs. 

Stories > Data

Leverage the power of qualitative insights to help champion the power of culture and secure longer-term buy-in. Be better at compiling the human stories that demonstrate the impact of our work, to use as a proof point in the power of these brand activations. People trust people, as much as vanity metric. It’s an unutilised tool in our armoury. Help educate decision makers about what success looks like.


Talent these days are CEOs of their own empire. This allows them to jump into different disciplines and flex their broad creative muscles. But *authenticity klaxon* - there’s a cautiousness as to how to work with these adjacent passions. At best - it can unlock a whole new world. But at worst - it can seem like jumping on an unconsidered fad. 

Second City Stories

With a 48% YOY increase in Creators [Shopify], there’s an ever increasing decentralisation of tastemaking and storytelling. With this move away from London’s media hub, there's a huge opportunity to support talent & communities outside the M25 and work with local Creators to amplify. 

Every little helps…

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. With good intentions and values, be proud of each task, project, partnership that is making steps in the right direction. The small changes matter - you never know who you might inspire and what doors you may be unlocking! 

We host these roundtables as a space for marketing leaders to meet and connect with peers, while hearing from those on the cultural front-line. A forum to discuss shared problems, potential solutions and new opportunities for success. If you’d like to get involved, email us at beyond@warmstreet.com.

more articles