Friday, February 27, 2009

Persian Letters

A New York Times article on the sad demise of the Chrysler P.T. Cruiser includes this interesting nugget about how the car came into being:

The PT Cruiser grew out of a collaboration among Robert A. Lutz, who was an executive at Chrysler at the time, Bryan Nesbitt, a designer, and Dr. Clotaire Rapaille, a French-born medical anthropologist and psychiatrist, who is hired by corporations to tell them what Americans like. Dr. Rapaille interviewed customers lying back in a dark room about their automotive psychological associations, seeking the primal appeal to the part of the mind and brain he called the “reptilian.” He also advised other companies, such as Kraft — on American perceptions of cheese — and grew into a corporate prophet. “The Wizard of Lizard” one headline called him.
And to think there was a time in America when we ridiculed Gallic post-structuralism.

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