For countless years, creative marketing has been defined by the ads it generates. But ask any ambitious creative team about 2019, and you won’t hear them talking TV spots and preroll. Instead, they’re looking to create ideas that will pierce the culture and defy easy description. An event? An experience? A stunt? A movement?
I’ve been covering the creative industry for more than a decade, and while getting consumer attention has never been harder than now, the work that succeeds has never been more fascinating. Here are some creative trends you can expect in 2019:
Blurring the lines between irony and loyalty, consumer brands have spent the past year slapping their names and logos on apparel that, shockingly enough, you might actually want to wear. I mean, who wouldn’t want a pink Starburst jacket or KFC “Fried Chicken USA” sweatshirt? Next up was branded beer, producing more questionable creations like IHOP’s Pumpkin Pancake Stout and Planters’ Mr. IPA-Nut.
In 2019, look for creative agencies to push such partnerships even further, producing truly unexpected products—and likely taking the Supreme approach of limited-run drops. This approach offers a cart full of benefits: light production logistics, maximum creative freedom and a short enough window to avoid fan fatigue.
A new breed of celebrity entrepreneurs
Celebrities used to attach their names and photo ops to businesses mostly as side investments rather than new extensions of their careers. That made for easy paychecks, but it also meant risking some fallout if, as with Planet Hollywood, things went belly-up. Then stars got serious about their startups, resulting in high-profile brands like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty.
But not all celebs want the long hours and PR headaches of being corporate titans. In 2019, expect to see more taking the Ryan Reynolds approach. Ordering a Negroni while on a film shoot, the actor decided to invest in the gin that came in it. Now the owner of Aviation American Gin, he’s begun using everything from his social media feeds to late-night appearances to plug the brand, and his self-deprecating earnestness keeps it all from feeling gross. And with George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila selling for $1 billion last year, you can expect a lot more stars to funnel their investments and social capital into their personal passions rather than global enterprises.
Partnering with brands to save the world
Creative agencies have always set aside time for work that supports social causes, but the lack of paid media support usually limits the reach for the resulting campaigns.
But with the urgency of climate change reaching a boil, expect agencies in 2019 to become more proactive not just in creating advocacy work but also in finding the right brands to bring those messages to a global audience.
A recent case in point is London agency Mother, which created a video with Greenpeace about the extreme dangers of palm oil production. Rather than stopping there, the agency then partnered with U.K. grocer Iceland Foods, which used the spot as its holiday ad. When British ad regulators banned the TV spot for being too political, the result was an avalanche of publicity, praise and attention for the brand—and the cause.
Experiential meets production
Two massive trends in 2018 were the rise of ambitious experiential marketing and big-dollar investments in production, with the latter best highlighted by Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital acquiring MediaMonks for $350 million.
In 2019, we’ll see these two fields come together in some intriguing ways. Why? Because innovative production houses need more audiences to see their creations (which often involve VR, AR or custom-built equipment) in person, while experiential marketers need more interactive content to draw and retain attendees.
So expect branded activations and pop-ups to evolve from just Instagram fodder into immersive playgrounds that everyone wants to experience firsthand rather than just watching a case study on Vimeo.