Tuesday, January 22

Leo Burnett Predicts the Year Ahead

The folk at Leo Burnett UK have presented their thoughts for the advertising industry in 2008, and kindly let PSFK sneak an early peek. No big shockers in the document, but Ben Hourahine, Leo Burnett’s Future’s Editor, has summarised 8 trends that collectively see this year as being the one where people see a real change finally hitting the mainstream; where the industry wakes up to the power of the community and starts to understand the value of branded utility.

Leo Burnett 2008 predictions:

Mass is back (Say hello to the Swell Society)
The power of mass culture will be back in 2008. At the turn of the year online downloads were included as part of the UK Christmas pop chart for the first time ever. This trend of online popularity being institutionalised shows that mass appeal will once again define marketing attitudes. Where once the watch-words were fragmentation and micro-targeting, Google, YouTube and Del.ici.ous are new gauges of mass appeal, a fact marketing will wake up to this year. The goal is the same; reach a mass audience, the difference is how to achieve it. Say hello to the Swell Society. How do you create ‘swells’ in pop culture when the audience is not necessarily captive and waiting in the first instance? How do you make sure that your film or viral grabs a spot in YouTube’s top ten guaranteeing the attention of millions? The marketing means maybe changing, but the objective is the same.

Community Commerce

Community connections will become more central to business practice in 2008. Retailers will seek to bring the community further inside the store, with more coffee shops, banking services and pharmacies within supermarkets. On top of this, a revolutionary development in the relationship between commerce and society will take place this year, when Sainsbury’s opens a police station inside its Fallowfield store in Manchester . On the other side community connections are being used to create new businesses for established brands. The Sun newspaper online bingo community was set up in 2005 and is now the biggest Internet game in the world . From an experimental brand-stretch three years ago, the community is now News Corps biggest digital cash cow . Expect to see more established brands following suit this year. You never know, we may see Bisto using its family connections to become the new Butlins in 2008!?

Screen Saturation

2008 will see the explosion of screen-based media, with screens on the side of buses, in petrol station, supermarkets, the home and the pocket. While the medium may remain the same, the reach, context, audience and role of the media will be tweaked. There will be more broadcast screens than ever in 2008 and things are only going to get bigger: According to Sharp - the electronics manufacturer - the average television screen size will be 60” by 2015

Gender Reversal

More women in work and the increasing role played by men within the family will see marketers change their focus this year. Three years ago the Office For National Statistics discovered that women outstripped men in UK further education enrolment , which means most will be graduating this year and looking to enter the work force. Men’s interest and investment in the family will continue to rise as well, morphing the gender balance and changing the advertising context. In 2008 expect to see more and more campaigns aimed at women at work and men in the home. With gender differences diminishing, new forms of identity will be emerging in 2008.

Brand Guardians

The role of brands is evolving and will enter a new phase in 2008. With growing concerns over how to be healthy, safe and happy, mixed with a real confusion about how to achieve this, we will see brands increasingly attempting to take on a guardian role this year. Forward-thinking policies, honest brand ethics and a general ethos of wellbeing and comfort in one's choices will be promoted by the most leading-edge amongst them. We have already seen the beginning of this trend with campaigns like Kellogg’s Bran Flakes’ ‘Three Step Program’ and Pedigree’s ‘Adopt a Dog’ initiative, but as public confidence and trust levels continue to waver we will see a lot brands striving for guardianship status, making this a significant trend in 2008 and, indeed, perhaps years to come.

The brands of the future will live out the interests of their consumers. Consumers will help brands make their own lives better. We will then know our customers better than ever and, in turn, they will trust us to use their information to create a better future for both.

IP Idols

Artists are grabbing control of their creative product. Intellectual Property (creative works – ideas, songs, movies, TV shows) used to be owned and licensed by studios, record labels and other commercial institutions, but we will see artists back in the driving seat this year. At the end of 2007 Madonna signed to the Live Nation label, giving her unprecedented control over her albums, concerts, tours, merchandise, websites, DVDs, sponsorship, TV shows and films. Other IP idols will grow in power and commercial clout this year. Simon Cowell has shown himself to be bigger than the pop charts by taking over the Christmas number one spot via a TV show. You may not like him, but you wish you’d thought of it. The man has taken over an entire industry through success in another sector, proof of the power of IP Idols, even over entire media channels.

The Data Awareness Era

In 2008 the public will be more aware of their data exposure than ever before and privacy concerns will be a defining issue in 2008. Until now the disarming novelty on social networks, like MySpace and Facebook has generally overridden concerns about the potential hazards of full disclosure. That could change this year. High profile data leaks like the British Government’s recent loss of computer disks containing child benefit records have raised awareness of privacy issues. As more employers and university admissions officers troll social networks for potentially embarrassing revelations on candidates, users may decide that it is better to leave the Saturday night snap-shots in their mobile phones

Expect this trend to accelerate with the introduction of GPS location based information, the explosion in online information storage and social networking increasingly reflecting real life…

Social Networks Get Real

Social networks like Facebook , Bebo and MySpace have been virtual playgrounds for some time, but in 2008 they will start to plug directly back into the real world. This year we will see social networks beginning to dictate everyday life, influencing who people do business with, which parties, movies and gigs they go to, where they meet and with whom. Accelerating the shift to life itself being organised through Facebook or MySpace , is the advent and take up of mobile social networking: 14m people did it in 2007, and forecasts suggest it could hit 600m by the time the Olympics hits London in 2012 . Allowing people to participate on the move; mobile applications will turn Facebook and the like from a method of meeting old school friends to a real time diary of their very real lives. Never far off the pace, Google is rumoured to be launching ‘Google World’ this year, using Google Earth as the framework, this is the Internet giant’s answer to Facebook and Second Life. As the Ars Technica blog reports:

‘Google Earth CTO Michael Jones insisted… Google Earth would always remain true to the real world and not dive into the type of fantasy world that Second Life has become. Therefore, Google's implementation would be more like "First Life," but in virtual form.’

Social networks in 2008 will no longer be simply voyeuristic frivolities; they will help us participate in actual activities with our existing friends and acquaintances, in real life, with sunshine, colour, oxygen and everything.


Leo Burnett

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