For everyone who has powered through their New Year hangover to make it to the office this week: welcome back! Have a coffee, admire the blank page of possibilities before you and fling yourself into 2016! For everyone who has had the foresight to book this week off: if your head feels sore, that’s me glaring enviously into the back of it. Returning to work after the festive period elicits mixed emotions. On the one hand, it still feels far too early to emerge from hibernation (I’m currently feeling profound empathy with poor old Mama Bear in the lush new Center Parcs ad). On the other… when you’re lucky enough to work with a cool bunch of people, it’s reinvigorating to catch up and charge onwards together. I call it the back to school high. New notebooks, new pens and so much to talk about. So. Much. From CES to Twitter to exciting new challenges… better get started, eh?
At the end of last year, I predicted that 2016 would be the year that the ad industry won’t stop talking about artificial intelligence. Mark Zuckerberg has done his bit to make that prediction come true by announcing to the tech show in Vegas that he’s working on an AI butler ‘like Jarvis from Iron Man’. Other developments that could have a direct impact on the ad industry include LG’s ‘roll up’ TV screen which has massive potential for digital outdoor advertising. There’s also been a chunk of wearables and health tracking tech for pets, which could prove a useful new stream for pumping cash and data from indulgent owners. (It also brings to mind the scene in Scrooged where Bill Murray suggested stapling antlers onto the heads of dormice for a Christmas TV extravaganza, to entertain cats, his new growth market.)
Less, er, obviously useful is Samsung’s smart fridge that comes with a screen, to allow the peckish to peer inside without opening the door. It’s a valuable lesson for budding creative technologists. Sometimes you need to stop what you’re doing and ask yourself, ‘why?’
Here at LBB, we’re big fans of films about staying true to yourself, embracing your flaws as the source of your power. Frozen. Napoleon Dynamite. Legally Blonde. Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging (ok, that last one was our Head of Content, Liam’s suggestion… take it up with him).
So it’s with a rueful shake of the head that we greeted the news that Twitter is abandoning its 140 character limit for 10,000. Twitter, honey, you don’t need to do this. You don’t need to change to impress some boy. Yes, 140 characters is sort of arbitrary and frustrating… but it’s also part of the fun. Don’t we already have Medium and Tumblr and Wordpress and Facebook and War and Peace for long-winded wordiness?
So, I thought by now everyone in the galaxy had seen The Force Awakens and that we’d be able to discuss the film without worrying about spoilers, but, alas, no (deputy editor Addison Capper severely letting the side down). What I can say is that it was a great ending to a year in which the depiction of women in advertising reached exhilarating highs and deplorable lows. It gave me a New Hope, if you will.
Rey, the hero of the film, is an arse-whupping godsend to parents of small girls. After years of being inundated with Elsa tat and being forced to endure more viewings of Frozen than permissible by the Geneva Convention, they may find they have some cool li’l aspiring Jedi on their hands. Maz Kanata, played/voiced/mo-capped by Lupita N’yongo is a more vibey, less annoying Yoda. And Carrie Fisher. I can’t decide if I’m more impressed by the number of fucks she doesn’t give or her insistence on taking her derpy French Bulldog Gary Fisher to every interview, premiere and TV appearance.
But… there is a disturbance in the Force. Official toy brand Hasbro has neglected to include the main star of the show, Rey, in playsets and Monopoly boxes and they’ve failed to meet the demand for Rey toys this Christmas. Is it a marketing issue? Production line? Distribution? Whatever the reason behind this business cock up, Hasbro has been snoozing and has somehow missed the female action steam train of the past few years: The Hunger Games, Jessica Jones, Inside Out, uh, Trainwreck… It’s not about ideology, it’s about smart business.
While there’s a tiny glimpse of a glimmer of hope when it comes to female portrayal in the media, it’s the boys’ turn to get disgruntled. First there were the dumb Dads and moron sons in certain ads which will remain nameless. Then there was the not entirely unpleasant sight of Poldark star Aiden Turner’s Adonis Belt (that v-shaped muscley bit just above the groin…) in the BBC’s Agatha Christie adaptation, And Then There Were None. Is it objectification? Uh, maybe. Let’s have a good look and discuss, shall we?
More positively, the new Cillit Bang ad from BETC Paris is chucking rubbish gender roles out the window (as well as clichéd, patronising stereotypes about ‘mumz’) by recognising that a) men use cleaning products too as do b) people who aren’t stay at home mums.
LBB’s New Year’s Resolutions
New gym regimes and diets aside (seriously, there’s no one in the office who isn’t on some kind of health kick), the main topic of conversation has been our huge plans for the year ahead. There’s going to be a lot of travel, a lot of new friends to meet and some systematic world domination on the cards. Hello 2016. We’re coming to get you.