According to Omnicom’s self-described “next-generation” agency Sparks & Honey, the future of advertising is, quite literally, out of this world.
Forget about digital platforms and the iPhone X. The place where brands need to be next is outer space—that dark, mysterious, omnipresent abyss more often associated with satellites and star fighters than marketing messages. That was the takeaway from Sparks & Honey’s space-themed “culture briefing” this week.
“We’re here to talk about space. It’s been described as the final frontier, the next odyssey,” said the agency’s director of cultural systems Merlin Ward in the session’s opening. The day’s co-moderator added that it’s an area the agency “thought we should pay attention to.”
According to Sparks & Honey’s own research, the current global space economy is worth $329 billion, and 36 percent of Americans say they are more willing to buy a product somehow tied to outer space—NASA T-shirts included.
For the past four years, Sparks & Honey has held these daily briefings in which a panel comprised primarily of ad professionals attempts to break down all the trending topics of the past 24 hours for clients and employees. In July, the agency began opening up the first 20 minutes of three such hourlong sessions to the public via Facebook Live on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The sizzle reel below consists of footage drawn from multiple briefings.
“We operate an open agency,” Sparks & Honey CEO Terry Young told Adweek. “We saw very quickly that 2,000 people were coming to the briefings every year. We wanted to expand that reach. Now we have the same amount of people viewing [the live briefings] in a given day.”
Young said the 20-minute briefings focus on general trends, though panelists are free to discuss specific brands and agencies during the subsequent private sessions.
At the space-edition briefing, panelists including former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria debated how brands should use space to advertise effectively. Some execs warned that the message could become gimmicky if overused. One such example brought up during the live portion of the briefing was Budweiser, which announced at South by Southwest in March its plans to produce a microgravity brew for when people eventually colonize Mars.
“I’m a bit skeptical of Budweiser brewing beer on Mars,” panelist Miriam Kramer, space reporter at Mashable, said. “I don’t know that every brand should be going after [a space message].”
Panelists also discussed why space is becoming so popular, what technology developed for space can eventually be used for commercial purposes, and what sort of tourist opportunities may eventually open up beyond our own solar system. Sparks & Honey claims insights come exclusively from their own data and analytics operations.
Still, they’re not the first agency to explore outer space. Over the summer, Ogilvy announced a new partnership with the New York Space Alliance, a group dedicated to “empowering entrepreneurs in the global space economy.”
However, space is more than just a trendy topic of discussion for Sparks & Honey. Young noted that the space theme embodies everything the agency aims to achieve as an agency by providing marketers with unique insights into not only what’s popular today, but what will be popular tomorrow.