Is the future bright?
The question about what the future holds for advertising naturally comes up a lot. Being planners, we like to theorise and analyse things and are constantly looking to forecast the new.
Thinking back to the Millennium, the question about what the noughties would look like came up a lot. And it wasn’t necessarily a rosy picture.
Concerns about the decline of the print, audience fragmentation, and the watering down of insights as brands look for global efficiencies are just a few that seemed to have popped up.
But, being planners and so resourceful problem solvers, these problems didn’t seem to get in the way the way of great, effective work.
To put this into practice, I think it means we could use the fact that people are becoming less trusting to encourage brands to become more transparent and drive positive change.
An example of this is when KFC opened its doors to its chicken farms for the first time ever for a BBC documentary ’Billion Dollar Chicken shop’. Presumably they needed to make some changes to how things where run in preparation for this.
What about the fact that people are harder to reach? I think this forces us to have explore more and varied media platforms that in turn helps inspire creative work. BBDO’s drug drive campaign on Snapchat in Australia is a great example of this.
Back to pondering how things look in the present day and I think there are reasons to feel pessimistic.
People are becoming less trusting.
People are harder to reach.
People can avoid ads all together.
And we seem to have less control over how our messages are seen, or who delivers them.
But what if, as planners gone before, we are able to turn constraints into a good thing? A beautiful thing?
As, in the words of Adam Morgan and Mark Barden in their book ‘A Beautiful Constraint’, ‘by making a constraint beautiful, we mean seeing it as an opportunity, not a punitive constriction, and using it as stimulus to see a new or better way of achieving our ambition.’
As for how our messages are seen or who delivers them, what if we embraced this?
A good example of this is the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. A simple yet strong message that once launched, relies entirely on real women boosting the confidence of others in sport by showing off their own sporting achievements.
But what is required from us as planners to make these constraints beautiful?
I think it’s really the same things that have always required of us, to be insightful, dissatisfied with the status quo and always optimistic about new possibilities.
So, although the future might not seem too bright to me on first appearances, by looking back to what has been achieved in the past, maybe that is a good thing.
Maybe it’s not that the future looks bright, but that to me it looks beautifully tricky.