A 2017 trends document created collectively by the Planning department at TMW Unlimited. I oversaw the production of the piece and co-authored two of the six thought pieces around the areas of 1) Automation and 2) Diversity
What a year 2016 was!
We’ve witnessed seismic shifts
across political, cultural and
So we wanted to share our views
on what this all means for brands
and marketers, across six key areas.
2 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
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2016 was a year that shook up expectations and defied predictions.
We now have to get used to living with uncertainty, a state that
requires cool heads and agility. More than ever, we need to think
ahead, understand and plan, whilst retaining our ability to move fast
and adapt to change. I hope 2017 Viewpoint will help, by looking at
the trends and opportunities that we think will matter to marketers
In these essays we revisit some of last year’s themes. Automation
has moved more swiftly to centre-stage than we expected – bringing
new opportunities for marketing, brands and agencies, as well as
nascent challenges for broader society. Automation is already shaping
the retail sector, where we envisage a polarised future landscape,
driven by our desires for convenience and enriched experiences.
We review how brands are beginning to respond imaginatively and
empathetically to the challenges of diversity.
We also cover some exciting new themes. We look at how live
streaming is poised to take over our social channels and what this
means for branded content. We suggest that Gen Z will change our
understanding of what luxury will mean in the future. And we dive
into how brands can connect deeply with consumers in a world of
I hope you find our perspectives fresh and thought-provoking.
Director of Strategy
3 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
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Meet the team 05
The growing challenge of cultural pluralism 06
Representation of diversity within advertising 07
Retail innovation 08
Gen Z & the demise of luxury 10
Social is dead. Long live social. 11
About TMW Unlimited 12
Welcome to the automation revolution 09
4 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
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Head of Planning
Senior Social Media Manager
Director of Strategy
Meet the team...
Here’s everybody that contributed to one or more
of the following thought pieces. A real cross-section
from our Planning and Data Strategy departments,
as well as people from Things Unlimited, our social
first agency brand, and Navigate Unlimited,
our marketing technology consultancy.
5 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
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Areas of impact:
+ Brand Strategy
+ Social Strategy
and how do we engage a community that can on first sight appear
completely baffling and alien?
DIGITAL CONNECTS PEOPLE
LIKE NEVER BEFORE
Digital has facilitated greater connection between like-minded
people. Connections are no longer bound by geography or time.
People can seek out others with like-minded interests, bridging
the physical boundaries that have traditionally defined whether
cultures have flourished or failed.
This new reality creates huge scale in different passion points,
even in areas that on the surface may appear niche. This is no
more true than the meteoric rise of eSports. What started with
teenagers in bedrooms discussing the best gaming strategies
has spawned a multi-million dollar entertainment market, with
professional gaming teams battling in front of full stadiums of
fans for multi-million dollar prizes. 32 million people around the
world tuned in online to watch the League of Legends World
Final in 2015. This phenomenal growth has happened with a
very limited penetration in the ‘mainstream’ consciousness.
But this isn’t just a ‘large audience’; this is a thriving cultural
community in its own right. The eSports space is defined by a
large number of tribes, each grouped around key gaming titles,
and within each tribe there is an almost limitless number of
sub-tribes. The eSports culture has developed, from an outsider’s
perspective, a dizzying array of stars, personalities and influential
figures, with a plethora of stories, myths and legends that
shape that community’s perceptions, with a shared experience
communicated in an almost impenetrable language. The simplistic
title of ‘gaming’ does not do justice to the rich cultural world that
Wherever there is a large captive audience, there is an opportunity
for brands, and this year we have seen progressive brands who
understand the power of fragmented cultural opportunities taking
the first steps into this space. Red Bull have opened an eSports
channel, Samsung have sponsored a team, and Coke Zero have
sponsored viewing areas. But the challenge for these brands,
and others as they enter the space, is how to connect authentically
with a large, passionate, specialist audience in a way that is
believable, emotive, and part of the community.
seekers. Each group has a different motivation, and a different
cultural expression of their passion which needs to be
understood to authentically operate in this community.
Some communities require different touch points to be reached
authentically. This is something Adidas are really pushing forward.
For example, when launching their D Rose Jump Store, they
placed adverts in the local chicken shops of Hackney and
advertised on local pirate radio. They’re now building on this
approach by pushing into dark social, using WhatsApp as a
social channel to build connections with hard to reach consumers.
Particular visual aesthetics are important to form authentic
connections with consumers. For example, Haul videos have
a very particular communication style. Haul videos are short
films where girls share their recent purchases from shopping trips.
Despite being made by disparate people usually on their own,
the community has organically developed its own aesthetic:
a pastel pallet, script typefaces, quick jump cuts, and shallow
depth of field are the hall marks of the haul world. To live in this
space, brands need to ensure they capture this popular aesthetic.
HOW CAN BRANDS BUILD CULTURAL
CONNECTIONS IN THIS FRAGMENTED
To connect with cultural communities, brands need to really
understand and analyse the culture before jumping in. In
particular, there are four elements which are key to connecting
with a community:
• Landscape: what are the groups and sub-groups within a
particular cultural community? What unites them and how
are they different?
• Actors: who is influential in each community? What is
their identity and what do they represent?
• Rituals: what are the common behaviours within a
community? What are the fables that act as common
currency amongst members?
• Language and aesthetic: how do members of the
community communicate with each other? What
is the common slang language? What is the
dominant visual style?
Once the community has been fully understood, only then is it
possible to formulate your own brand narrative which plays to
this community, utilising their language, codes and aesthetics
in an appropriate way, and taking advantage of the most suitable
media opportunities to best reach this community.
BIGGER BRAND IMPACT LIES OUTSIDE
OF THE MAINSTREAM
The rise of fragmented cultural communities is starting to
challenge the hegemony of mainstream culture. As people
spend more time in different cultural communities, large-scale
cultural moments hold less sway.
Future success lies in creating connections in cultural spaces
outside of the mainstream. The best brands will be malleable:
able to fit within a range of subcultural communities, but flexible
enough to mirror and match that community. Brands that adopt
this model will have more impact with consumers. By being part
of the community, they will create greater affinity with consumers,
and this affinity will drive purchases in our world of
Most of us can think back to our teenage
years when the gaps between different cultural
groups were chasmic. Some people literally
wore their cultural allegiance on their sleeve.
But cultural affiliation went beyond what you
wore and the music you listened to: language,
attitude, behaviour, ritual, ideologies, political
allegiance; every aspect of your life could be
dedicated to fitting in as part of that tribe. It
was a major investment in time and money.
But finding belonging through cultural identity is changing.
Digital is forming new cultural communities around what
were previously niche interests – and it’s doing so at scale.
It is also allowing people to form multiple cultural identities,
simultaneously creating a new, more complicated picture of
cultural affiliation. You don’t have to invest time and money
curating an image in the real world when your avatar can
do it for you. This subcultural affiliation is no longer the
preserve of the teenager; these identity trends span every
age and demographic.
This is presenting new opportunities for brands to drive
greater relevance and affinity with consumers. But in a
more complicated, transient and nuanced world, it also
presents challenges: which opportunities are the right ones
Brands looking to create
authentic narratives with
consumers need to seek
WHAT CONSTITUTES A
SUBCULTURE IS CHANGING
Digital has reduced the barrier to exploring different aspects of
identity. Rather than having to fully commit to a cultural identity,
digital lets people simultaneously exist within different cultural
In this world, we can no longer pigeon-hole people into
generic archetypes. We need to get away from overly
simplistic caricatures such as a ‘worried mum’ or ‘millennial’.
Thinking in terms of cultural communities can help us because
these images are defined and constructed by the consumer
themselves through their active participation in a community.
Some of these communities can at first sight seem downright
bizarre. Auto-sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a tingly
feeling that some people experience when exposed to certain
sound triggers, such as whispering or soft brushing noises.
Digital has connected people who experience this sensation,
allowing them to share their experiences and also create
content that triggers the feeling. This has led to a large
community forming around this topic, with 100,000 members
on Reddit and the most popular ASMR Youtuber, Gentle
Whisperer, generating over 250 million views.
Dove, the Mars chocolate brand, created an ASMR video
for its China market, to try and connect with this hugely
popular subculture. Pepsi have also created Instagram
content heroing their softly fizzing drink as a way to try
and connect with this subculture.
THESE CULTURAL COMMUNITIES
ARE HARD TO PENETRATE
Much like eSports, at first glance, the world of baking seems
fairly straight-forward, but this masks a complex web of
subcultural groups. There are bakers who bake to master
classics, gluten-free bakers, bakers who bake just to perfect
a visual aesthetic, clean-living bakers, life-style bakers,
show-stopping obsessives, minimalists, and innovation
6 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
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In last year’s Viewpoint we spoke about how
advertising and brands need to go beyond
stereotypical depictions of diversity and move
towards catering for it with the products they
produce. Whilst we haven’t achieved that
utopian vision just yet, we have started to
see a few green shoots appear, reassuring
us that we’re heading in the right direction.
And whilst there’s still a lot more to do,
centres of excellence (e.g. Channel 4 and
Unilever) are now starting to lay out the
behaviour for other brands to adopt.
Last year, our ‘Diversity in Advertising’ thought piece depicted
diversity through mixed gender, body shape and ethnicity, but
some of it tended towards the stereotypical and anachronistic.
What you could easily term the rainbow-washing phase of
But this year we’ve seen a small but definite shift towards the
depiction of diversity through positive roles and representations
– we’ll share some examples of this later – which we believe is
the next stepping stone in the evolution of diversity in advertising.
A SUPER-HUMAN EFFORT
The Paralympics advertising, as always, fuelled the debate about
representation in advertising. Channel 4’s ‘We’re the Super
Humans’ TVC gained praise for striking the balance between
depicting its stars’ epic sporting endeavours and everyday
activities. Its very existence also helped to highlight the dramatic
under representation of disabled people in advertising. Scarily,
it featured more disabled people in a single commercial than
had ever appeared accumulatively in advertising before.
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF DIVERSITY
The Malteasers ads, which won £1 million of free advertising
from Channel 4 as part of a competition to encourage brands
to champion diversity and disability, although highly praised,
did raise some interesting debates and discussion points.
The three ads demonstrating a ‘lighter side’ of disability, were
rather risqué insomuch as they each featured disabled actors
explaining to friends an awkward situation that had occurred to
them. Whilst being enjoyed and applauded by the broader public
for their inclusivity and sense of humour, some questioned the
underlying sense they were conveying. In every scenario the
protagonist’s disability is the crux of the joke. This has had an
adverse effect on a small set of members within the disabled
community, uncomfortable with the fact their disability was central
to the gag. Is this indicative of yet more insensitive depictions of
diversity in advertising, or is it a case of whatever you do, you’ll
always end up upsetting a certain minority?
REAL WOMEN DOING REAL THINGS
H&M should also be recognised and celebrated for its Autumn/
Winter TVC which featured as wide a ranging cast of strong
female characters as you could hope for. In short, it featured a
black woman with natural hair, women with shaved heads, a
muscular woman, wobbly bits wobbling, a thin woman eating
French fries without any sense of guilt, armpit hair, a septuagenarian,
an ethnically ambiguous, high-powered female business executive,
a transgender woman, lesbians and so on. The types of women
you might encounter on the tube or high street.
And the reason this was so arresting? Because we are so unused
to seeing real femininity in advertising, as opposed to the femininity
we are told to believe is real – white, perfect figure, perfect hair and
make-up. So for now reality is the new fiction in advertising, but in
time we hope that reality will be just that.
ROLES, DEPICTION AND STEREOTYPES
Unilever has also independently recognised the very real need
for change in this space too, and has committed to remove sexist
stereotypes from all of its brands’ advertising. This being driven by
the shocking findings of its own survey, where it discovered that
just 2% of ads depict intelligent women, 3% show women in
managerial, leadership or professional roles, and 40% of women
don’t identify with the characters they see on screen or in print.
And further analysis demonstrated that significant gains in impact,
likeability and preference could be achieved by rectifying some of
these failures. So look out for more positive, intelligent, professional
depictions of women coming out of the Unilever stable
COME ONE, COME ALL, IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME
And taking a snapshot of the biggest advertising peak of the
year – the Christmas ads – we see yet more reassuring movement.
Sainsbury’s stop gap epic features a wide range of characters
– intended to represent the diverse nature of modern Britain –
including a same sex couple complete with baby. House of Fraser,
although revisiting last year’s ‘music and street dance’ theme, has
decided to better reflect its customer base with older (yet still as
funky) characters central to the story. M&S turn their focus to
Mrs Clause, a mature lady delivering a wonderfully caring gesture
whilst keeping Mr Clause in the dark. And finally, John Lewis
– to some THE Christmas ad of the year – featured the infamous
Buster the dog and an all-black cast, representing the typical
British family, which has been warmly received by all.
TO 2017, AND BEYOND
Whilst these pieces of work have all done a brilliant job at featuring
a diverse range of ages, ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations, and
in doing so normalised a much wider range of talented people who
help sell things to us, we believe there is still work to be done. We
theorise that the next shift in diversity in advertising will be a move
towards ads that truly represent the behaviours and passions of the
group they feature, and not just the generalised stereotypes
of the past and to a certain extent present.
Furthermore, if we recognise that the peaks of engagement created
by the Paralympics in 2012 and 2016 drove a real reframing of
disability in the eyes of the general public, really turbo-charging the
breaking down of taboos around this area, then what could those
peaks be for gender, age, LGBT and BAME equality? Who will step
forward and force us to rethink our attitudes in these spaces?
So if we could urge our brand owning and marketing colleagues to
take away one thing, it would be to consider what peaks they can
create and which area of diversity they can help break down the
barriers to. Gender, disability age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation
– there’s a long list to choose from.
But beware, just doing it simply isn’t enough. There are a plethora
of examples of bad advertising trying to do good things in this
space. In short, it’s hard to make good advertising, let alone good
advertising that does good too. So whichever area of focus you
choose, whatever business challenges you need to address, work
with your agencies and make sure you get to bloody great work.
Because otherwise it’ll fade into the background of brand noise,
pass unnoticed and fail twice – once for your brand, and once
for the cause of diversity.
What progress has
been made and what’s the
next step for brands?
TABOO NO MORE
Some of what we saw in 2016 would have once been deemed truly
shocking. In 1974, TV’s first ever (post-watershed) lesbian kiss was
broadcast (Girl, BBC2) only after the station controller made an on-air
announcement. It was deemed so controversial it was aired only
once. And just a short 23 years ago, Brookside repeated that
pre-watershed to both huge support and complaint.
So to 2016 and we have seen a much broader representation
of sexual identities through Match.com and Trivago advertising
campaigns. Whilst that was happening, Channel 4’s First Dates
has been effectively normalising LGBT and disability dating. It feels
like we’ve made huge leaps forward of late, but there is still so
much more to do.
Even within the fashion industry – a historical flashpoint for diversity
– we’ve seen enlightened brands make headway. The style and
fashion platform Refinery 29 going as far as creating a whole new
portfolio of stock imagery featuring plus size women – currently
shown in only 2% of advertising images despite making up 67%
of American women. The platform believes that enabling access to
these kinds of images will encourage advertisers to more accurately
mirror the society they are trying to engage.
Areas of impact:
+ Advertising strategy
+ Branded messaging
+ Communications and content planning
7 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
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It’s 2037 and I’ve run out of milk, washing
powder and food. All essentials which I need
back in my kitchen pretty quickly. So, I ask
Alexa if she can order replacements. I trust
Alexa to make choices for me, she’s normally
spot on, almost as if she knows me better
than myself. Which brands will she pick?
The ones I know and love of course. So I
order through her and it all arrives an hour
later in an Amazon branded box. Another
great, time-saving job from Alexa who never
seems to let me down.
HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED
Products now sit behind AI assistant walls, they decide what we
should get now. And apparently that’s done through some sort of
live bidding system to get me the best deal. I tell Alexa what I want
and she instantaneously goes out to find the perfect products for
me, finding out who wants to bid for my order to give me the best
price, fastest. And I’ve got my preferred delivery-bot company who
takes care of all my delivery needs.
HOW THE HELL DID WE GET HERE?
So, this all sounds a bit farfetched, but we are certainly sitting on
the precipice of big change. Could this all actually happen in the
next 20 years? Well, think just how far we’ve come in the last 20
– in ‘96 it was all about CDs and the Palm Pilot. No one had
heard of Google and we sent less than one text a month.
So now you’re on board, let’s map out the logical steps to our 2037
scenario above. We’ve already had the impact of the 2008 crash
flipping the high street on its head and with Brexit on the horizon,
we expect there to be real economic disruption all over again.
Despite this, inevitably the face of the high street had to change
as shoppers shifted towards digital. It started an irreversible move
towards a focus on delivering experiences and branded engagement
in lieu of retail – from transactional to ‘brandactional’ spaces. It
gradually became a place to meet, socialise, browse and experience
rather than shop.
The outcome of all this is that retail brands have been placed on a
slippery slope that eventually sees them hidden behind automation
platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Siri. The algorithms
driving these AI agents start to make decisions for us based on
what they think we want, or more scarily the types of relationships
(financial and otherwise) that they have with their supplier brands.
B2C brands are forced to behave just like B2B brands, with a
complex web of resellers and distributors between them and their
And we were all quite happy with these changes. Cultural shifts such
as the increasing age demographic and the rise in urban living meant
that we all demanded shopping experiences which suited these new
needs. And it suited the way our behaviour has changed – our need
for instant gratification for example, was fulfilled by 24 hour access
and under the hour fulfilment – something the high street could
Back to today, what does it mean for us as brands, marketeers and
retailers in 2017? If this is the future what should we be doing to
prepare right now?
Well, for now, we think it’s still all about establishing and maintaining
strong relationships between customers and brands. Driving real
salience, preference and mental availability, so when that moment
of truth arrives your brand is both front of mind and desirable.
But in a world where the choosing of brands and retailers will become
sub contracted out to Alexa and her ilk, it’ll be vital to demonstrate
you’re worth a place in a shopper’s ever short-cutting life. The building
up of loyalty now will help in wiring those much desired behaviours
going forward, so that you’re suddenly the default when decisions
don’t have to be made by you anymore.
Loyalty will quickly evolve and start to take on, we believe, different
guises. Solving problems and improving shopping experiences
will be highly prized. As will brands that can demonstrate excellent
and frictionless service. But the real shift could come from brands
who really focus on returning to delivering unrivalled product and
consumption experiences, potentially even tailored to the individual
using the rich data that the likes of Alexa and future connected
brand platfoms will enable.
As now, brands and retailers who continue to innovate and adapt
will survive and thrive, others won’t. We believe the speed that
businesses fail or succeed will continue to increase in this unforgiving
but massively rewarding new world of data, defaults and delegation.
So, become the natural choice for a shopper (whether or not that’s
via AI) and you’ve got a relationship to look forward to. Become a
surviving stalwart, a genuine high street beacon offering serendipity
and experience that simply can’t be replicated online (well not yet).
Or swing completely the other way and focus on getting your product
into a shopper’s hands with a little help from Alexa.
Having got my essentials sorted I decide to head out to the high
street. It’s a friend’s birthday and I want to choose her a present
– I can’t ask Alexa to do everything.
Most shops are online now. Stores are for brands to romance us
with free coffee, to meet friends and be surrounded by stuff we
can buy and have delivered home even before we get there. I have
a look round a couple of experience centres (what we used to call
shops) and grab a coffee while I decide what to buy. Having chosen
the gift I ask Alexa to have it delivered home today, in time for the
party this evening.
I still like doing a bit of actual shopping (not everything has changed!)
and I can do that at the retail survivors – the real artisanal stalwarts
– you know, the hyper luxury/ hyper local shops still standing and
so far, have proved irreplaceable. Real experiences and products of
unmatched quality haven’t yet been replaced by technology. I head
to the bakery, have a chat with the lovely baker I’ve known for
absolute years, and choose a delicious handmade cake for tonight.
I get home to prepare for the evening ahead and decide that I really
don’t have anything to wear – I definitely need something new and
fast. I grab my VR glasses and sit down for a bit of a browse. Ten
minutes later I’ve chosen a dress, offered my details to endorse
the brand for the standard future discount and it’s with me in
30 minutes – evening saved!
Areas of impact:
+ Omni-channel retail
+ Brand experience
+ Customer loyalty
What will retail
look like in
20 years’ time?
As inflation rises in response to this, brands become less important
with more choices driven by price. And vitally, this price hunting
manifests itself most dramatically online, where the best deals
are always to be had.
As we all hunted for better deals, our online shopping habits became
our default choice. This was supported by a fundamental redesign
of the last mile. With the delivery industry revolutionised, we
now have our own personally-selected delivery company working
for us, not the sender, and drones reliably delivering to us wherever
THE STEADY MARCH OF AUTOMATION
Automation drove the adoption and normalisation of chatbots
delivering customer service support. This enabled us to self-serve
information and advice, killing off yet another reason to visit the
high street – face-to-face expertise.
VR and AR became another nail in the coffin. Now mature enough
to enable more natural shopping behaviours away from store, having
to go to the high street to look at the chair or pair of trainers you
wanted to buy became completely unnecessary.
There was a temporary shot in the arm for retail with the long awaited
arrival of connected platforms, when payment tech finally joined the
dots to enable fluid omni-channel experiences for the masses. This
drove mass personalisation across all platforms, including in store
with real time pricing and personalised offers – giving a reason
for shoppers to visit a store rather than go online.
8 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
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Areas of impact:
+ Marketing Automation
+ Artificial Intelligence
In the past, the word automation conjured
images of the herculean power of heavy
machinery on construction sites or the
dazzling speed of factory production lines.
This efficient machinery saved billions of
dollars in labour, energy and materials,
as well as enabling the creation of
extraordinary buildings and products alike.
Automation today, however, has taken on an altogether different
meaning. Digital processing power is growing fast and Artificial
Intelligence (A.I.) is becoming a reality. It’s feasible to envision
a world where machines could perform any intellectual, or even
creative, task that a human can.
This might sound far fetched, but when you consider where we
are starting from it quickly becomes believable. After all, the world
is becoming more automated every day. From the rapid adoption
of contactless and mobile payments in the UK, to the gradual
adoption of Tesla’s driverless cars in the US. Nike have recently
even released the self-lacing trainers first imagined in Back To The
Future Part 2. Our lives are becoming more and more frictionless.
But is the uniquely human talent and ability to think and be creative
really under threat? Is the communications and advertising industry
going the same way as a factory production line, destined to be
fulfilled by robots?
There are already some emerging examples of automated creativity.
One came about when the bank ING applied their innovative spirit
to the sponsorship of Dutch art and culture. They literally taught
a machine to think, act and paint like Rembrandt. Over two years,
using 3D scanners, a deep-learning algorithm and facial recognition
software, they analysed 346 paintings in order to re-create his
unique style, which they printed using a 3D printer that uses paint
based ink. An impressive use of technology admittedly, but it is
clearly imitating creativity rather than originating creativity.
Automated creativity is even infiltrating advertising agencies.
Dentsu in Japan recently hired the world’s first artificial creative
director (AI-CD). A decade of award-winning work was uploaded
to AI-CD, and rather worryingly, it applies algorithms to help set
a creative direction based on the client brief.
In Hollywood, Sunspring was the first completely A.I. penned
short film. Using a general text-recognition learning algorithm,
they fed the machine with two decade’s worth of science
fiction screenplays as its inspiration. The A.I. picked up on the
commonalities of screenplay formats, but the resulting movie
seriously lacked consistency and a compelling narrative.
Whilst these examples represent tremendous leaps in creative
artificial intelligence, human involvement is much needed, and in
some cases sorely missed. The truth is, the output of machines
alone isn’t good enough. Robots don’t have the ability to freely
associate in the same way humans do, meaning they simply
don’t have the same capacity for imagination.
We believe the real automation tipping point for creativity and
imagination will come when the technology moves from fulfilling
a minor role to a majority role in the labour market, thus creating
space for a new wave of imagination to flourish.
Consider the often unsung but enormous impact of the introduction
of the washing machine and other household appliances. Which,
by vastly reducing the work involved in carrying out household
chores, allowed women to enter the labour market and virtually
abolished professions like domestic service.
The current rapid adoption of automation and its projected impact
on the labour market shares a number of key characteristics with
the advent of the washing machine – and as such holds similar
potential. The first being a significant reduction in the amount of
time it takes to fulfill a given task and the second being the innate
desire to imagine a new reality to put that time to use. It’s both the
lack of time and repetitive low cognitive tasks that are the enemy
of imagination and creativity. Automation removes these barriers.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, echoes this sentiment by saying
‘people will have time to do other things and more complex things,
more interesting things’. Musk is a shining example of what’s
possible when automation grants you the luxury of time.
So, while the possibilities of automation are exciting – it is the
opportunities to imagine granted by the gift of time which
become really fascinating.
A NEW DAWN OF IMAGINATION
So when will this ‘tipping point’ happen and how might it
manifest itself? According to Rice University professor, Moshe
Vardi, ‘automation will claim 50% of all our jobs in the next 30 years’.
And whilst that might be so, it’s unlikely that it will replace many
jobs in their entirety, but rather that a percentage will become
If Vardi is right, both client and agency businesses will be faced with
the conundrum of either reducing the number of employees, reducing
the number of hours work or redirecting employees spare capacity on
new revenue generating activities. In reality, we will see a combination
of all these scenarios, which will require people to imagine completely
new roles for themselves and imagine fresh ways of creating value
with their newly acquired ‘free’ time. This is the moment that will
signal a new dawn of human imagination, or to put it another way
– if knowledge was the key asset of the 20th century, then
imagination will be the key asset of the 21st century.
We don’t think so. Instead we believe the advent of automation
will create a new landscape where imagination and creativity
The biggest driver of change in the industry right now is marketing
automation. It’s becoming easier to harness huge swathes of
behavioural data to fuel automated ‘real-time’ decision-making.
This enables marketers to get ever closer to the panacea of right
customer, right message, right time and right channel. Advancing A.I.
capabilities can vastly improve customer experience management,
by making instant decisions based on data, and assisting the design
and execution of customer interactions.
Capitalising on this potential isn’t just reserved for big brands with
sophisticated marketing technology platforms. Take Fuzzy.ai for
example, a software company that makes A.I. more widely accessible
and easy to use. Their system takes your knowledge and intuition
about your business and converts it into an algorithm that improves
automatically, helping you to make better decisions.
The established players like IBM are making this a commercial
priority; in 2017 they will incorporate Watson (their A.I. algorithm)
into their marketing cloud software. Watson will allow users to
instantly harness intelligence from data in their marketing platform
by using a simple conversational ‘Chatbot’ style interface. Within
this platform they’ll be able to carry out complex, skilled tasks that
are currently carried out by technical marketing experts. It is clear
technology developments like these will demand far less human
intervention, but they won’t function independently. The technology
will still be dependent on the human mind for strategic thinking
and creativity. Or will it…?
An exciting new era that’s
propelled by automation but
defined by imagination.
IT’S ALREADY HAPPENING
There are already a whole host of instances where automation is
completely redefining the human experience of the world. One of
the most significant changes to the human experience brought
about by automation is the way in which we discover information.
Google have been using machine learning for years to guide people
through cyberspace in the most seamless and relevant way possible.
Amazon have been perfecting their purchase experience to make
it as frictionless as possible – recently releasing the Amazon Echo
which has taken it one step further, simply requiring you to ask a
machine to order whatever it is you desire.
In other categories, automation is completely redefining the
incumbent reality, from algorithms making new medical discoveries,
controlling autonomous cars, to those interpreting human
conversations like customer service Chatbots or even Google’s
In all three cases, automation is carving out our new reality and
therefore influencing the way we think, experience and imagine the
world. So let us think about automation in terms of the possible,
let’s imagine a new era and then create it.
9 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
Next slide >< Previous
Areas of impact:
+ Behavioural economics
The way that consumers perceive luxury
products is in flux. And it’s Gen Z (the under
20s) driving it. Sure, few among us were able
to afford traditional high-end luxury in our
teenage years. But this young generation
are the first who may never be able to and,
crucially, may never particularly want to.
That has big implications.
Young consumers are increasingly attributing high value to brands
offering pragmatism, shared or borrowed ownership, and inclusivity.
Luxury brands have traditionally stood for the exact opposite –
polished refinement, treasured ownership and exclusivity. It’s time
to reappraise how we’re engaging this generation before they
enter the heartland of high-end brands’ target age ranges.
Because the way to pre-empt it is not just about peppering
creative with heart-eyes emojis. It could be as fundamental as
reformulating a business model.
At any given time, your inbox probably contains several unread
emails offering advice on how to market to Gen Z, covering
everything from financial services to handbags. They talk about
the importance of ‘being authentic’, of recognising the importance
of friends, and ‘prioritising positive brand experience’, as if
these are things that the rest of us couldn’t possibly want.
Generalisations across an age demographic aren’t particularly
helpful at the best of times, and these well-meaning observations
could probably be attributed to attitudinal shifts occurring across
consumers as a whole. We need to park the generalities, unless
they’re rooted in truth directly attributable to Gen Z alone.
However, there are four specific economic and socio-psychological
reasons why today’s teens’ perception of value and luxury is different
from any generation prior. These four drivers, importantly, seem to be
evidenced across the age group, and are unique to that age group.
1. THE SATURATION OF LUXURY
BRANDS AMONG THEIR PARENTS
Once upon a time, being fat was a mark of affluence. Why?
Because food wasn’t readily available in large quantities unless
you had money. Now that calorific food is inexpensive and abundant,
being overweight is no longer a signifier of wealth. The perceived
value of traditional luxury goods is arguably following a similar
trajectory. The parents of today’s middle-class teens were probably
the first generation to be able to buy into luxury brands in some
way en masse. An Apple device. Chanel glasses. A YSL scent.
For today’s teens looking on, the cache of owning luxury products
in their traditional guise is no longer as strong.
2. THEIR OWN ECONOMIC HARDSHIP
This post-recession generation are the first in recent history
who expect to be financially worse off than their parents. They’re
staring down the barrel of an estimated £44K debt if they want
to get the degree that was virtually free for their parents and less
than half the price for their older siblings. This generation has
many more significant financial barriers on their horizon. And
they’re acutely aware of them. Many feel they won’t ever pay off
their student debt, and around half have given up on ever owning
a house. In these circumstances, it’s hard to see many Gen Z-ers
having the spare cash to spend on non-essential investments,
even if they did see the value in it.
3. THEIR CONTROLLED,
Gen Z can’t afford to make rash decisions – both literally and
metaphorically. In addition to their financial constraints, teens
are demonstrating a fundamental attitudinal shift in what
constitutes ‘the good life’. The bad news for luxury brands is
that it couldn’t be further away from the brash, heart-driven
decision-making that luxury brands thrive on. They are now
spending more on coffee than clubbing. Over a quarter of
those who are of drinking-age don’t drink alcohol at all.
With the economy stacked against them, they report being
more career-focused at a younger age than any preceding
generation. It points to a generational mind-set that is
remarkably clear-sighted; they are increasingly sober, serious,
ambitious and careful. For luxury marques built on spontaneity
and indulgence, they are soon going to find themselves at odds
with the next cohort of consumers entering their target audience.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BRANDS?
Given those four interrelated factors, it’s hardly surprising that
we’re left with some pretty major implications for Gen Z’s future
relationship with luxury brands. Crucially, though, these aren’t
socio-psychological conditions that they’ll ‘grow out of’. This looks
like engrained-world-view stuff that they will retain as they enter
luxury brands’ traditional target age brackets. Instead of looking
to the older generation to understand what the younger generation
will become, we need to be looking at this audience to understand
what the future is going to be like. That’s an important and sizeable
challenge for marketers to get to grips with – and here’s where
Start communicating how you will rationally improve your consumer
as a person – or diversify into products that do. As luxury brands
prepare for Gen Z entering their target age range, they will need to
do more than flutter their eyelashes to attract them. Convincing an
audience that their purchase is not a self-indulgence or a frivolous
treat, but instead something that they can rationalise into a narrative
of responsible self-improvement, will be vital. Premium food brands
have been among the first off the mark, increasingly explicitly
communicating around the rational function they offer – whether
it’s energy-providing or gut-protecting. How this ‘justifiable self-
improvement’ narrative can be woven across high-end technology,
automotive, fashion or entertainment verticals, for example,
represents the harder challenge.
Start relinquishing control of your luxury product to consumers.
With Gen Z unlikely to be placing much stock in the come-hither
allure of luxury marques, it will be increasingly incumbent upon those
brands to reach out and involve consumers. For a luxury world that
is used to acting intentionally aloof and standoffish, that’s a daunting
prospect. Ralph Lauren are showing that relinquishing product
control isn’t antithetical to high-end credentials with their in-store
and online personalisation bars, allowing consumers to remix their
logo and products. With other fashion houses making their catwalks
immediately shop-able, Mr Porter setting up shop on Apple TV and
Tesla bringing premium car dealerships to shopping malls, these
luxury brands are also loosening their once-tight grip on where their
products are bought. If Gen Z don’t place as high stock in traditional
luxury as previous generations, this level of accessibility will need to
become the norm.
Start offering luxury as a service rather than an owned product.
Tech start-up Makercase are pioneering a ‘deliverable retail in a box’
solution which allows consumers to access high-end products for
a short period of time, rather than committing to owning them in
the conventional sense. The high-end fashion industry, meanwhile,
is pondering its response to the rise of a host of services like Rent
The Runway, offering short-term access to ordinarily unaffordable
clothing. One response from fashion labels is to make a select few
pieces available in hotel room wardrobes for guests to rent for the
day – a kind of mini-bar for high-end clothing. In the automotive
industry, BMW are leading the way with their well-documented
‘On Demand’ service. By starting to reformulate their business
models, these brands are preparing for a generation of consumers
who will be less able, and less willing, to commit to expensive,
4. THEIR ASPIRATION TO
Today’s teens are considerably more health conscious than their
elders. When they do open their wallets, it’s for things that will
have a tangible, positive impact on their wellbeing. Recent Nielsen
data found that a higher percentage of Gen Z-ers were ‘very willing’
to pay a premium for healthy food than any other age group, despite
being cash-strapped. In a world in which they have less control and
financial clout than those before them, Gen Z are focusing on things
they can be masters of, like their own health and wellbeing. Luxury
and aspiration go hand-in-hand. But tomorrow’s luxury consumers
aren’t aspiring to make a statement or be revered. Instead they’re
aspiring to tangible self-improvement. That’s something that few
luxury brands are currently offering.
Gen Z & the
demise of luxury.
How are teens changing
our understanding of
what the luxury brand
of the future will be?
10 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
Next slide >< Previous
Areas of impact:
+ Social content planning
+ Influencer and partnership strategy
+ Newsjacking and responsive content
Social is dead.
Long live social.
The growth of live
According to Facebook, the future of social
media is video. This summer, they claimed
that text would be obsolete on the social
network in five years’ time. Online streaming
has overtaken broadcast television viewing
in the US, and trend watchers increasingly
delight in mind-bending statistics about how
much film content we are creating (300 hours
uploaded to YouTube every minute, though
by the time you read this it’ll surely be more).
It’s no surprise, then, that live video
streaming is the topic of the moment.
Facebook’s own offering is Live, which allows users to beam their
hopes, dreams, fears, and dining experiences directly into other
people’s feeds, as they happen. It follows in the footsteps of Meerkat
and Periscope, and is succeeded in turn by the YouTube live-stream
button for mobile and Twitter’s live TV app. With so many digital
leviathans piling into live streaming, are we witnessing the birth of a
new era, a move from ‘always on’ to ‘on right now’ – or could this be
a case of the emperor’s new clothes?
THE CASE FOR LIVE
It’s easy to see why platforms have jumped on the live streaming
bandwagon. For Facebook, Live offers a fresh way to interact on a
platform that now feels so familiar it risks becoming stale. The platform
built its reputation on being an innovative challenger, but has been
eclipsed by the likes of Snapchat, which has greater cachet with
young audiences. Zuckerberg himself has spoken of the raw and
visceral qualities of the format, arguing that it is ‘freeing people to be
And there is objective truth in this on a psychological level. Human
beings like to be in the know: we derive social status from being the
first to bring new information into our networks. The Internet has been
making the world smaller and communications faster for more than
20 years, creating new opportunities to communicate with others
and define our own identities. What began with webcams of coffee
pots and evolved into the lifecasters of the mid-90s has now become
mainstream behavior. It isn’t enough just to be able to make a pithy
comment about current affairs or The Great British Bake Off – you
have to strike while the iron is hot, and you have to do it before
anyone else does.
The ability to live stream high quality video directly from your phone
thus clearly represents a new phase for users – although whether the
platforms are able to keep up with demand remains to be seen. The
once widely-adopted Vine brought a new language for video to the
mainstream, but failed to evolve with its audience and breathed its last
breath in 2016. Facebook is more optimistic, and has shared some
impressive engagement metrics: comment levels, for example, are
apparently ten times higher on live broadcasts than they are on regular
videos (although cynics might not find this surprising, given that
the feature is designed to encourage comments, and the algorithm
privileges Live content). Still, such is Facebook’s confidence in its
newest product that promoted Live content is already considered a
given and pilot tests for disruptive ads, which would appear a few
minutes into a broadcast, are heavily rumoured.
REVOLUTION, NOT EVOLUTION
But for brands, the big question remains: how significant a change
does the growth of live social really represent to the way they need
to market themselves? The answer, if you strip away the media
attention and platform investment is probably ‘less than you’d think’.
Historically, the companies whose performances in social have
been most fêted have always been those which act fast. In digital
marketing we talk about being ‘agile’ and ‘reactive’, a few years
ago, ‘newsjacking’ was the phrase du jour – indeed, what was the
Oreo Super Bowl moment if not live social? The technology might be
more sophisticated, but the recipe for success in social remains the
same: make yourself part of what interests your audience, and have
something entertaining or useful to say. Looked at from this angle,
live social isn’t quite as groundbreaking as it might first appear.
Instead, it’s a natural extension of the human behaviours (and
business investments) that have made these platforms the
powerhouses that they are today.
A WATERSHED MOMENT
The real issue for brands is risk. Live content amplifies both the
potential benefits and the potential pitfalls of playing social media.
Done well, it could put you at the bleeding edge of pop culture,
making you famous and driving return on investment. But done badly,
it could be an expensive flop – or worse, a reputational risk. So it’s
surely no coincidence that, at the same time that we see live content
growing, we also see all of the major platforms encouraging brands
to rethink their approaches to social. Organic presences are being
strongly discouraged, particularly by Snapchat, which not only doesn’t
require a profile in order to advertise, but actively discourages brands
from creating one. Meanwhile Facebook et al position themselves
as innovative advertising channels, talking about immersive formats,
relevant content, and tailored targeting, rather
than engagement and community-building.
Perhaps then, this is less of a brave new world for marketing,
and more a process of natural self-selection. For some industries,
companies, and categories, livestreaming video not only makes
sense, it’s also crucial to their continued success. Just as mainstream
media outlets are changing their approach to reporting breaking
news in order to try to compete with the tireless firehose Twitter,
for some businesses this is an adapt-or-perish moment. And for
brands that already command high levels of consumer engagement
(entertainment, music, and sports, not to mention celebrities) it’s a
chance to circumvent traditional – and more expensive – ways of
reaching audiences, or to beat the old media businesses at their
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Continued investment and innovation by the big social media
platforms looks set to continue into 2017. Twitter’s self-proclaimed
role as the place to find out ‘what’s happening now’ clearly hints
at ambitions to integrate with broadcast television, and the recent
acquisition of NFL screening rights suggests that vision can become
a successful reality. Indeed the whole area of live sports looks set
to be a highly contested battleground in the near future with tech
companies rushing to carve out a niche. Facebook cautiously
entered the arena in 2016, penning a deal to stream pre-Olympic
US basketball games. YouTube is showing its hand too: it’s signed
a deal to live stream the next UEFA Champions League finals, and
is rumoured to be launching Unplugged, a live TV service, in the
So far, few brands are truly excelling in the live social arena but, for
some, it might be possible to dip a toe in the fast-moving waters
through collaboration with superfans and celebrities. Audiences grant
more latitude to individuals than to even the most loved brands;
influencer marketing could be an opportunity for some to affordably
test live content through others before expensively committing to a
new way of working. And with all of this movement, the trend towards
live social could presage the ultimate integration of broadcast TV with
social media – something that would, without doubt, change the face
of media and marketing forever.
ARE YOU IN? (YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE IN)
There can be no doubt that live streaming in social will continue to
attract interest and experimentation by platforms and users throughout
2017. But when it comes to brands, the future is less clear, and the
potential implications far greater, because of what it means for the
way they approach creative work.
Earlier this year, users were criticised for uploading pre-recorded
videos to Facebook Live platform and defended themselves by
claiming that their content ‘was recorded live, even if not broadcast
live’. While you’d be forgiven for thinking that the commenters believed
other videos were filmed in the astral plane or the Upside Down, what
this really reveals is that when we say ‘live’ we mean something very
different – we mean ‘un-edited, unfiltered, and imperfect’. These new
technologies are reducing the lag before publication: we can’t
double-check our content before we push it out into the world. And
that’s where brands and people are different. Ordinary social users
don’t plan their posts months in advance; they don’t go through
complex sign off processes involving legal regulations, claims, values,
target audiences and message testing; and, most importantly, their
reputations don’t suffer in the same way if their production values
aren’t high enough.
The most important thing, therefore, for brands to remember about live
social as they move into 2017 is that, if they’re going to be bold and
release content which hasn’t been finessed, they need to be very sure
that it’ll offer real value to viewers. And, if it can’t, perhaps the bravest
(and wisest) thing they can do is to stay out of the fray.
11 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
Next slide >< Previous
Data & Insight, Strategy & Planning, and Creative & Content
Strategy sit at the heart of all of what we do. We also have
specialist teams in Customer Experience Management including
CRM/CVM, Technology & Project Management, Social &
Influencer Marketing, Paid Media & Distribution, Labs & Creative
Innovation and Production. These extensive capabilities have
made us one of the UK’s most awarded agencies for insightful,
data-led creativity. Our recent wins include a highly prestigious
Silver Cannes Lions, D&AD Impact Award, Gold IPM Award,
Data Storytelling Award, and Grand Prix at both the Digital
Impact Awards and Social Buzz Awards.
Emotion is at the heart of decision making. People feel,
then they do, then they think.
So we create influential ideas and experiences that unlock the
power of how people feel through a unique approach we call
Using insight and data, Intelligent Influence helps our clients
create stronger and more meaningful long-term relationships
with their consumers.
We have an agency network in 25 countries worldwide through
our partnership with Serviceplan Unlimited and work with some
of the biggest brands in the world delivering campaigns with
We are part of the Unlimited Group, a group brand offer that can
provide additional specialisms and expertise. Together, we can
deliver Unlimited Thinking through our group agencies and provide
fully integrated solutions.
Covering the full spectrum of
our focus is on intelligent insight,
memorable creative and results
that drive long term value
Creating the world’s
most influential ideas
With three decades in the business,
TMW Unlimited is the leading customer
engagement agency in the UK today.
2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.12
Next slide >< Previous
Let your print imagination run wild with
innovation and insight
Want to digitally print onto more surfaces? Or use 3D printing to rapidly create
new parts or prototypes? With cost-effective solutions for one-off short runs,
we’ll help you explore exciting new revenue opportunities in the manufacturing
and industrial sectors.
Come and see us in Hall 8a and find out how
we can help you #UNLEASHPRINT.
40697_CA_Drupa_Ads_330x240.indd 3 06/05/2016 15:58
Turn print possibilities into business opportunities
Print should be about exploring bold ideas that will grow your
business. It should be about experimenting with new techniques
that will see you expand into new markets. Most importantly,
it should be about saying ‘yes’ more often, to more of your
customers. So if you want to #UNLEASHPRINT within your
business, we have the expertise and forward-facing technology
to help make it happen.
Come and see us in Hall 8a and find out how
we can help you #UNLEASHPRINT.
It’s time to
40697_CA_Drupa_DPS_330x480_V4.indd 1 09/05/2016 10:03
Website: #UNLEASHPRINT hub page
Online display: Banners
BEST USE OF CREATIVE #UNLEASHPRINT
Social: Short videos
7 156) CRESTON UNLIMITED
Magazine cover wrap
Video campaign: #UNLEASHPRINT challenges
Video content: Sales presenter
Social: Short videos
156) CRESTON UNLIMITED
Magazine cover wrap
Video campaign: #UNLEASHPRINT challenges
Video content: Sales presenter
Some recent work
An impactful, fully integrated B2B campaign that celebrates the incredible potential of today’s
print industry in order to engage and inspire Canon’s commercial print audiences. Driven by the
knowledge that companies who rely on print for business are ‘survivors’ in a space that’s seen
some tricky times, the campaign galvanises businesses to deliver even bolder ideas and new
techniques using Canon printers. #UNLEASHPRINT was
developed for social, experiential, online, press and out of home.
Men In Progress
To make Lynx relevant to young men in 2016 who want to present themselves well but
aren’t concerned purely with the pursuit of girls, we created a digital campaign called ‘Men In
Progress’. Featuring a series of nine short films seeded across social platforms, the campaign
is designed to challenge perceptions of the modern man and reinstate the brand as a
barometer of what it is to be a man living in the UK today. The beautifully shot, raw and
authentic pieces of content feature dozens of guys talking candidly about a range of topics
- from the last time they cried through to how they feel about their body and what masculinity
means to them.
13 2017 Viewpoint Trend: Impact: Action.
Next slide >< Previous
To talk to us about our Viewpoint,
or to get our opinion on a sticky
brief you’re dealing with, contact
Richard Marshall, our Group CEO.
+44 (0)7802 814921
+44 (0)20 7349 4036