After a turbulent year, here's five reasons to be optimistic about marketing in 2018

For many reasons 2017 has been turbulent year, and the industry has certainly had its highs and lows. From developing tech and GDPR to sexism and diversity, brands and businesses alike have been challenged in every direction. However, in the face of adversity, there have been some really uplifting highlights which give us reason to be optimistic and excited for the future of our creative industry.

1. VR & AR really showed their potential

VR and AR aren’t new news, but in 2017 these technologies really came of age and started to show their real potential.

In VR, high-end productions like ‘Spatium’ by Inition and Philip Treacy showed how effective the technology could be at transporting you to another world. Shared immersive productions such as Chris Milk’s ‘Life of Us’ showed how VR can create powerful shared experiences.

The accessibility of AR through the mobiles already in our pockets had already been proven by Pokemon Go. But it’s the tests of Apple’s ARKit this year that really get us excited about the numerous AR opportunities for brands in 2018.

2. Marketers have stopped using the misnomer ‘millennials’

‘Millennials’ has been the marketing buzzword for a few years now, but 2017 was the year that the backlash to this lazy approach moved up a notch. For the record, there is no such single group as ‘millennials’. It leads to stereotyping, and stereotypes simply aren’t segments. Let’s hope that in 2018 we can move on and focus on proper consumer understanding.

3. TV proved its worth

For a few years many soothsayers have predicted the death of TV and traditional media. But the excellent work done by Thinkbox and by Les Binet and Peter Field using the IPA Effectiveness database have proven that TV is far from dead; it is alive and kicking and highly effective.

That's not to say that every campaign should include TV – there is a wonderful richness of opportunities from partnerships to giving customers direct experiences that make marketing exciting right now – but it certainly still has its place.

4. Diversity has jumped up the agenda

Diversity has been high on the agenda for a few years but 2017 was the year where naysayers started to take notice. Campaigns like Fearless Girl and Power to The Bump paved the way for voices to be heard and changes to be made; perceptions are changing and real results are being seen. Diversity is vital, especially in our industry where we are communicating to a world of individuals. If we can’t reflect society in-house, how can we reflect and engage with society with what we create?

5. Being kind was crucial

The news has been full of examples of cruelty and negativity towards fellow humans. However emerging from the darkness there has been a growing movement encouraging kindness, both to others and to yourself. There are Twitter users who deliberately share good news and promote good people to provide some balance and hope. Brands aren’t philanthropic now because they want to look like they care, some really do care and want to do amazing things for other people. Companies like TOMS have really come into their own this year because of their genuine desire to help others.

There have been some wonderful campaigns around kindness this year too, like the ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ work by Samaritans which empowers commuters to help those around them. Our own work on ‘Virtual Donation’ for NHSBT, showing how simple it is to donate blood and the life changing effect it can have on others, has seen great results.

Where does this leave us for 2018?

2018 is the year for opportunity. It is an opportunity for the tables to turn and see a real shift from individual to collective strength. This will require a real commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as empowerment, sharing, learning and a big splash of positivity. The creative industries have the power to touch every human on the planet, so we have a responsibility to lead the way and make a change – whether this is through setting an example of a how you treat your staff or giving everyone the opportunity to create and innovate. This can only lead to good things.

Let’s hope 2018 is remembered as the year that more companies than ever played a strong role in supporting a more inclusive society.

Jane Asscher, CEO and Founding Partner at 23red

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