Anyone working in or observing the marketing world (and reading Co.Create) can predict a few of the bigger themes and issues that will be of increased relevance in the coming year. The continued growth of mobile, the explosion of data, the evolution of content marketing—all factors that will shape the marketing landscape in 2013 and beyond.
But how will these issues actually play out in the industry and what impact will they have on brand creativity? And what are the other big trends that will define marketing this year?
We asked several advertising players from different disciplines and creative companies to weigh in on what they thought would have the biggest impact on their job in the coming year. Part one, below, we include responses from ad "creatives" and marketers.
In part two, we’ll reveal insights from strategists—the people looking at the broader cultural and media trends and consumer behaviors that shape the big marketing picture.
Here now, the creatives. They were tasked with answering: What are the things that will impact their work, what they’re most (and least) looking forward to, and how they plan to up their own creativity in 2013.
What are the things (technological, societal, media-related, economic or otherwise) that you think will have an impact on the kinds of work you’ll be doing next year?
Justin Cooke, CMO, Topshop: Advances in mobile technology—a combination of what already exists becoming more prevalent and adopted behavior—will allow everyone to stay more connected to the things they love. This creates a positive challenge for brands to create even better experiences for the consumer. Yes, we can all be reached 24/7 but it has to be good or we will switch off.
David Lubars, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO North America: To me, the thing with the most impact is that there are no set platforms anymore. Nothing is hardened in cement like TV or print was; figuring out how to create and deliver messages now is liquid, constantly evolving as new technologies are introduced. It’s incredibly exciting. Interestingly, in this new world, powerful storytelling—a form as old as humanity itself—is more important than ever. Godard said, "Sometimes reality is too complex; stories give it form." I agree with that. Storytelling is timeless and, as we’re seeing, how to deliver a story is very much of its time.
Neil Heymann, group creative director, Droga5 New York: More content, on more screens, in more sizes, in more places, more of the time. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to get people to pay attention to and care about your message. This year, we need to make the most of these advances to really connect with our audiences in a manner that’s unique and relevant.
Michael Krivicka, founder, Thinkmodo: We are noticing that more and more people are watching our YouTube videos on mobile devices. That includes all tablets and phones. The phone and tablet market is expanding and that is a major shift in the YouTube video viewing experience. This directly affects how we create videos (content and execution). I think our work will start adapting to a mobile experience more and more, starting with the ideation process. Knowing that fewer people watch our videos sitting in front of a computer is a good thing—things will get more active and dynamic and, more importantly, a lot more fun.
Jason Gaboriau, VP, executive creative director CP+B: We are in the midst of two giant cultural shifts. First is a technology slowdown. The Kondratiev Wave (WikiGoogleBing it) is upon us… the next big thing is not coming any time soon. And I mean “technology” in every possible way.
Over the last decade we have marveled at all the gadgets and gizmos… stronger, faster, smaller, better, and sleeker. We’ve converged every device into every other device. It’s a phone, camera, TV, music player, garage door opener, periscope, personal assistant, and deodorant. We’ve created and downloaded lots of apps and whiz-bang features that surprise and delight. Technology was the message and all advertising had to do was dramatize the latest and the greatest and consumers responded. It was the "Who Made a Better Computer Mouse Trap" world of communications. We have come to the end of that. So much has been done, seen, and heard that something has to be truly amazing to get the littlest bit of attention.
In our industry, the debate raged over digital agencies vs. traditional advertising agencies. Creatives were divided based on how technologically savvy they were: Art Directors, Digital Art Directors, Writers, Digital Writers, Designers, Web Designers, Digital Designers and so on. That is no longer the case. We have separated the “ones” from the zeros. Today’s writer is also a digital writer who can edit, build their own website, shoot and make video games. Creatives today, like their smartphones, must be able to do everything. And well.
The second thing I believe will have an impact on the kind of work we will do in 2013 is globalization. The fastest growing brands are the brands tapping into the rapidly growing foreign market demand. How do you make money in this economy? Advertise to the world. Globalization means that once again we will rely on great storytelling. There will be less advertising about features and downloads. The winners in 2013 will be the brands who can tell the best brand story to the greatest number of people across the most media. Designers and design directors will be hot commodities. They will be needed more than ever as brands try and differentiate themselves from the competition, visually, and across the globe.
The past decade plus was about learning new technologies, new platforms, new threads of connectivity about brands. This next decade will be a return to storytelling and craft.
Jonathan Cude, chief creative officer, McKinney: Marketers will continue to ask for more ROI often with the same spending levels and sometimes less. That’s why it’s critical for us to do work that is amplified in its effect. We would call that "talked about work." Whatever it’s called what we do will have to punch beyond its media spend. There is only one brand in every category that is not outspent.
Maxi Itzkoff/Mariano Serkin, chief creative officers, Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi Bueno Aires: Undoubtedly, technological advances are forcing brands to be less preoccupied with what to say and more with how to say it. And what invariably happens is that different brands’ messages all begin to resemble one another. Every day there seem to be more and more similar ideas coming from different clients…even within different categories. Innovation is taking a front seat and the brand’s architecture is being put on the back burner. As a result, the messages behind brands are becoming less and less unique.
Adam Kerj, chief creative officer, 360i: Being mobile by design in areas such as shopper marketing is critical. Mobile will need to be integrated into campaigns from the get-go, and not be treated as add-ons later on in the process. Our teams here at the agency work in tandem with one another—dropping the silos and alternatively embracing collaboration among community management, social strategy, digital word of mouth, content studio, creative and technology. That is how creative success will be realized in 2013.
It’s also important to be aware of all the data available at our fingertips. To embrace data, using it to spark new ideas and to drive creativity. No longer will data and creativity be so far removed from one another. By analyzing data to better understand the who, what, where, when, and why—all in real time—our ideas will be that much more creative and relevant to our intended audiences.
As the lines between online and offline brand experiences become increasingly blurred, we will see brands focusing on creating content in a more strategic and agile way. Cultural relevance is key. We can create consumer experiences for our clients that weren’t possible before. Consumers live in an "always on" culture, and we need to be facilitators and curators of those ideas and experiences. Those experiences may not even look and feel like advertising—it’s evolving right in front of us.
Heymann: More work that bridges the physical and technology gap in interesting, innovative, QR-code-free ways. Less time talking about what we’re doing and more time doing it.
Cooke: Find the time to read more, it’s almost impossible, so many articles, McKinsey studies, books, and Google white papers I’ve started to read and would love to finish…most of them are so good though those little skims and sound bytes are the things that keep me inspired/focused. The brilliant Summly app has helped me a lot—love the creator Nick D’aloiso; he is going to be very special in the coming years. I think Ben Silberman and the Pinterest guys are going to do some incredible things this year and I am keen to see where they take us next.
Meet more entrepreneurs, they drive my passion for technology, which I believe is at the heart of all great experiences and from there you can build great physical environments, great events, great live moments but it inevitably starts online and allows us to communicate with a diverse and broad audience. You couldn’t do that even five years ago, not at the speed, scale, and effectiveness you can today. The communities are so engaged and knowledgeable and I love that.
Kerj: We want to dig deeper into the world of data-driven creativity. We are monitoring, curating, and building brands in real time and, if we can harness that world and still be intuitive, we will see ideas that carry much more weight in 2013.
In digital, there has historically been a tendency for people to view digital as “matching luggage”—an add-on to a creative idea. But digital can be so much more than that and we’re seeing brands start to understand that having digital at the core of an idea can really help the idea spread and stand out in an increasingly cluttered environment.
Krivicka: I want to do less explaining to clients what the difference is between advertising and what we do. I want to do more riskier and edgier projects to push the limits. Playing it safe is not my thing.
Gaboriau: I want to do more storytelling work with great craft and amazing design. No matter the medium. And I want to do it globally. I am hoping to do more ideological expressions for brands to differentiate themselves from their competition and define themselves in the world. I am personally excited by this moment in time because I miss the days of great crafted brand stories with a unique visual language. I love design. I love learning about cultures and subcultures, and the thought of bringing those things together for our clients sounds like a lot of fun.
I want to do less technological trickery and apps that make consumers have to click on a link that leads to a clue which then downloads a clip of the game you have to play then upload to Facebook to share with friends to earn points to get a coupon all through a QR code.
Cude: More interesting. Less tested. More experiments. Less fear. More surprising. Less expected. More useful. Less disposable. More honest. Less bullshit.
Itzkoff and Serkin: Fewer case studies. They’re already played out.
Not to lose focus on audiovisual media, as they end up creating the strongest emotional bonds with the consumer.
To be more cautious with technology. It’s a complicated medium that can either be really helpful, or very confusing.
To react faster to change. When it comes to innovation, what’s important is who does it first, not who thought of it first.
For brands to make the bold, interesting choices they used to. Last year’s Cannes reel is nowhere near as creative as the reel from 10 years ago.
For brands to reallocate focus on the depth of their message.
To have more honest compromise between agencies and clients. There is a lack of give-and-take on the part of both, but responsibility lies 100% with the agencies.
Nowadays, advertising is an industry that requires a lot of energy. Processes are more complex and the battles are more intense. Which is why our greatest hope for the coming year is to maintain or increase the energy level we had in 2012.
Your creative year: What things will you do to be more creative in 2013, or how will you grow creatively?
Krivicka: My main inspiration is New York City. I get many of my ideas while walking around the city. I get to see, hear, and taste things that I would not experience anywhere else. So I am planning to do more walking around New York City! It’s free and it’s good for you.
Cooke: Spend more time experiencing art and all the amazing cities I visit. I never have enough time and I’m so fortunate to travel all over the world. I also want to explore more of London. It’s one of the greatest cities in the world and I’ve lived here all my life. It’s so easy to forget how incredible our architecture is. Just reminds me that sometimes the best things are right in front of us and that’s a good metaphor for our lives. I’m also greatly looking forward to what the brilliant Joanna Shields will achieve driving London’s tech city. I met her early in her Facebook days and she has the most infectious creativity and drive, and the government are lucky to have her!
Heymann: Most of us started in the creative industries because of the sheer enjoyment that comes from flexing our creative muscles. So in 2013, the goal is for all of us to have more fun. This means continuing to find new ways to collaborate, working with people with different skill sets and points of view, focusing on the fun of making things and generally enjoying the creative process as much as possible. All of these things lead to a better workplace as well as better work.
Gaboriau: To be more creative in 2013, I am going to do more of what I have always done… immerse myself in as many movies, TV, music, art, magazines, advertising, design, architecture, photography, food, fashion, and (gluten free) alcohol as I possibly can. I love all these cultural materials. It helps me stay current and relevant. I push my creative teams to do the same. I also want CP+B’s L.A. office to be smarter, sexier, and eat only 100% Non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, caffeine-free, wheat-free, sugar-free food, and grass-fed beef and wild caught seafood.
Cude: I am studying history’s best water polo teams and doing a deep dive on K-Pop . Also I will hire really smart, empathetic, resilient people.
Itzkoff and Serkin: At the agency, we’re trying to work toward making advertising less mathematic. What we mean by that is that we feel that advertising used to be much more entertaining and effective when the planning and creative departments were one in the same. When every little idea wasn’t tested by the convoluted methods of today. And when a brief from a client didn’t include “20% of x, 35% of y, and 45% of z.” We’re not rocket scientists. We’re communicators and we should be focusing our energy on generating mobilizing discourse.
Read Part Two: The Strategic Forecast here.