By Annie Heckenberger
Another trip around the sun, complete. While the 2018 news cycle may have felt fatiguing, a few delightful things stood out.
The impossible happened. The Eagles won the Super Bowl. I had to say it. Regardless of how this football season ends, or next season, the Lombardi came to Philly. Light poles were greased. The city shook and cheered. Jason Kelce said what a million Philadelphians may have long thought.
Gritty was born. A mascot that only Philly could own. But also, seemingly, a mascot that all of America needed toward the end of 2018. A 7-foot tall, orange, googly-eyed monster named Gritty felt just about right for everyone. Enough to allegedly earn write-in votes out of state in the midterm elections.
We were inspired by new heroes, as the Black Panther and support for Wakanda raced across screens big and small, sweeping the globe with excitement. And one stark black and white photo advertisement in a tweet from Nike reminded us that when you remove the dominance of color, such as the overly-filtered world of imagery and influence that we share relentlessly online, you create a new perspective. That perspective can be dramatic and evocative.
So, what’s next? What will 2019 bring? Here are my guesses:
- Brands That Stand for Something Bigger. There’s a momentum gaining among large segments of people in the U.S. and beyond. An awakening. People are speaking out against injustice, acting to affect change in the world at large. Brands that take a stand on an issue that matters to their consumers/stakeholders, who wield their considerable corporate influence to help affect change, will be rewarded.
- Regulation of Social Platforms. If leading social platforms are not able to ethically and transparently harness the misuse of their walled gardens by bad actors, then governments will regulate inside those walls. Regulating those channels will be nearly as difficult for American politicians as understanding complex healthcare policy and structuring access to it.
- More Remote Work. As the U.S. unemployment rate continues at an all-time low, access to talent will continue to place stress on businesses and growth. Businesses, in turn, will look to other cost cutting and employee attraction measures, like remote work options. The emergence of more real time communication tools like Slack and Basecamp will aid this trend, but I think in the end, we may see a decline in creativity in industries where face to face to work and collaboration leads to innovation.
- Data Security and Privacy. There will be more hacks. We will grow increasingly desensitized to this criminality, until there is an attack that affects our way of life or our health. This will continue to be a growing sector that the brightest minds should and must tackle, working with law enforcement, local governments and health care organizations.
- Original Content Series from Brands. Thanks to access at scale offered by social platforms that have now become ad display networks, brands can share their message in more unique ways through long or short form content that they own and produce. Advertising has always been simple storytelling; today, creatives aren’t limited to short form inventory like 30-second spots or a print ad. They can tell stories shared across Facebook posts, in tweets, live on Instagram, with other publishers like Buzzfeed or Vice, augmented interactive experiences that trick sensory modalities, and by creating real life experiences that audiences want to immerse in and share.
- Content in Microformats. Content created by brands and entertainment properties will have second and third lives in microformats like looping videos, gifs, and memes that continue to travel across the social web and even offline.
- Social Media Vacations. “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” In 2019, “turn on” from that classic phrase will pivot more often to “turn off.” Studies are showing that too much screen time is impacting our happiness and our heath. Expect to see more heightened awareness of this, and a mindfulness to more actively participate in the world around us rather than the world inside our devices.
- Retailers will become health clinics. Health care and access to it will continue to be a leading cause for many Americans. As brick and mortar retail continues to reinvent itself, we may see them partner with the health sector in new and different ways, to bridge a gap and to serve a market need in local care.
- Trust Sideways. Studies are showing that trust in news, long standing government institutions, and prominent figures, continue to wane. Rebuilding trust “upward” will take time. In the meantime, we will continue to trust “sideways” – in people seemingly close to our socio-economic status – neighbors, colleagues, micro-influencers we relate to, etc.
- AI might save your life. While automation and artificial intelligence may one day put many of us out of business, it may also save your life. In the health tech sector, brilliant minds are working with AI to predict sickness like flu outbreaks or sorting complex sets of personal data to identify diseases and treatments faster. And, it’s freeing up time for doctors and nurses, allowing them to spend more time with patients.
Annie Heckenberger is VP/Group Creative Director, Emerging Media, DIGITAS HEALTH