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'We Are the Dreamers of Dreams' - Taylor James' Adam Isidore's 2017 Predictions

Trends and Insight 362 Add to collection

The Taylor James MD shares his thoughts on the coming new year

'We Are the Dreamers of Dreams' - Taylor James' Adam Isidore's 2017 Predictions

The weirdness of the 2016 US election confirmed many things. Chief among them is one: we are a very divided country and two: people make decisions based on emotions – looking for evidence to support their gut rather than facts to guide an informed decision.  How will that influence the advertising industry and the stories we tell in 2017? 

How divided are we? There were more than a few stories about disrupted Thanksgiving plans because family members of opposing political views didn’t want to subject themselves to awkward conversations.  Adland responded this fall with a preponderance of kumbaya scripts.  The current Jeep campaign tells us that “what unites us is stronger than what divides us,” and as well intentioned as that tag line is, it appears that it is more wishful thinking than a unifying “Just Do It” rally cry.  

When the going gets tough, Madison Avenue relies on two staples: humour and irony. My prediction… kumbaya will quickly yield to ridiculing kumbaya.  Humour (and for that matter, physical humour) has always dominated the Super Bowl menu, but look for advertisers to rely heavily on funny rather than thought provoking anthemic spots this February 5th, and that trend will continue heavily beyond the big game. Time to make sure your agency is stocked with funny writers and your production company adds another comedy dialogue director. Companies like Taylor James will want to make sure their animators and designers are as whimsical as they are artful.

As we descend down the rabbit hole from the Colbert-coined “Truthiness” era into the all-out Post-Truth era, the realization that people make most decisions emotionally rather than analytically will not be a startling revelation to marketers.  Advertisers have always appealed to the heart over the brain.  Though advertisers can’t just say something outrageous that has no relationship to the truth with the same reckless abandon of a politician, they may feel emboldened to test the boundaries of the truth.   

I will try to restrain my cynicism, most marketers feel good enough about their products and services to promote them with integrity rather than shenanigans.  People are looking for reasons to say yes to that new purchase, and storylines and storytelling executions in 2017 will appeal to emotions rather than analysis to encourage the “yes.”  And with such a polarised public, no one can afford to be too controversial since everyone is walking around on edge - stories will be simple and non-argumentative.  

Here’s a prediction that I hope I’m wrong about: advertisers may have a harder time in 2017 finding eyeballs to view their content on traditional channels. Though the election cycle reality show spiked viewership, especially in real time, more than half of the US is so overcome in despondency that they have turned off the TV and unplugged from many other platforms.  Yes, there are still a lot of happy folks but the data suggests that they were turned off by most of the mainstream media to begin with.

On the other hand, alternative platforms will continue to gain popularity as consumers gain more access to the devices.  VR storytelling is still in its infancy, storytellers are struggling to identify the right way to integrate their brands into a VR experience, often resulting to a “Presented By” tag at the beginning and the end of the piece much like the early days of broadcast television.  But the VR story often feels like a “checked box” for a CMO’s marketing plan rather than a powerful way to reach consumers.  That said, we are an industry of very bright thinkers and makers who will continue to improve the stories the more VR stories they make.

Delivering these stories will evolve quickly this year.  No, TV is not dead. Not anytime soon. But I have two girls, ages 16 and 18, and I honestly don’t remember the last time they watched live TV.  They watch plenty of content but rarely on the brand new 55” TV I bought for only $300.  Is that price purely a savvy Black Friday purchase or does it reflect something bigger about supply and demand?

It will also be interesting to watch how the bidding process will evolve in light of the DOJ investigation.  Having both bid projects and solicited bids, I can say with certainty that change will be welcomed by most.

Lastly, the old adage that “the more things change the more they stay the same” remains inherently true -- good storytelling matters.  Smartly written stories that are artfully directed, elegantly designed and wisely produced still matter.  When you are appealing to the heart, these intangibles are what connect in a sincere and meaningful way.  I often tell my staff that nobody watches a commercial at home (or on their mobile device, wherever they may be) and says, “Hey, I bet that commercial was delivered on time and on budget.”  Yes, we need to make deadlines and be responsible with our clients’ budgets, but our first job is to create wonder, appeal to emotions and ultimately inspire action on our clients’ behalves. 

In the immortal words of Gene Wilder, “We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams.”  Let’s get to it.

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Taylor James, Thu, 22 Dec 2016 11:09:14 GMT