Written by Melissa Robertson, Chief Executive Officer at Now.
2015 has been an incredible year. We have witnessed some of the worst events the world has seen in recent history. From economic and environmental disasters to multiple terror attacks that have changed the lives, or certainly the perceptions, of almost everyone on the planet. But, what has really struck a chord is the resilience and togetherness of people across the world. #NotInMyName and #JeSuisCharlie were two of the most used hashtags of the year, more recently followed by the defiant #YouAintNoMuslimBruv. All of which signified a global mindset shift that, to truly affect change, we must all stand together.
The rise in smartphones, 4G penetration and public WiFi accessibility is undoubtedly driving much of this. The ability to stream real time video and commentary in multiple forms has meant that we have never been more connected. This has been seen as a force for good.
But what of Adland? Seemingly coming out of nowhere and snapping up my old (very brief) Alma Mater Dare, was Oliver, an 11-year-old agency who had truly kept itself out of the limelight. We all know that creating in-house teams for clients isn’t a new concept, but buying a former agency of the decade and poaching a top team from the Agency of the Year, as Justin Baraiman from the BBC has just done is. Now that Soho is no longer the centre of the advertising universe, there will be a lot of folks in newly open-plan desks at Sea Containers House and Bankside who will be watching how this plays out with great interest.
Now to the work. This year has seen some truly great work from a variety of different sources and types of agencies, as the blurring of disciplines and media owners continues. From Vice Media becoming a fully-fledged media owner, to Goldman Sachs using Snapchat to recruit grads and GE using podcasts to tell their story, brands and agencies are looking at new ways to create experiences. There are two pieces of work that really stand out for me though. Back in January The Princes Trust released their first ad in almost a decade entitled ‘Learn The Hard Way’.
It does everything that a great ad should do: it grabs your attention, draws you into the narrative and leaves you feeling differently. It’s shock advertising, but with a twist. Shock 2.0 maybe? As a mother, it breaks your heart. And, if anything, it has an even greater effect on me watching it again now than it did at the start of the year. Tip of the cap to my children’s godfather (absolutely no bias there) at CHI.
The second comes from an agency very dear to my heart: Lucky Generals. Pot Noodle has always had interesting advertising, one of my favourites was a spoof of a Guinness advert that AKQA did many many moons ago, but from a brand perspective they had become a ‘slacker’ brand. Basically they were the staple of the student diet. Lucky Generals managed to make them relevant again and take them out of the slacker zone with an irreverent take on gender stereotypes and norms, causing quite a storm by doing so, and of course, making sure they got into the national press and people’s hearts. Pot Noodle were brave to let them tackle the subject in this way, but generally it is the brave brands who win out.
And so to us. As an agency we have had a good year. We’ve won quite a few bits of new business, we’ve brought in new expertise, we’ve produced some great work, and had a lot of fun doing it. We’re knackered, but 2016 is looking bright, and not just for us, but for the industry as a whole, with analysts predicting that after a few difficult years, the market will become buoyant again. This is partly driven by the fact that technologies, old and new, are permeating everything we do. More than ever, this allows us to create a relevant narrative that is completely driven by the context of customer interactions, whenever, wherever and in whatever form they take.
Futurist Richard Seymour said that ‘we are facing something that we haven’t seen for 500 years. We are not limited by technology… we are only held back by our imagination of what to do with it.’
The possibilities are genuinely limitless.
And, we are very excited by that.