1) There were many things that shaped the year. Advancement in diversity and equality was one positive force, and it’s encouraging to see more women get the recognition and opportunities they deserve, in advertising and in culture at large, and for voices that were once suppressed to now be heard and affect change. In the ad world specifically, we’re continuing to see the agency model evolve dramatically. Smaller to mid-size firms are now at an advantage given their ability to do more with smaller budgets, pivot and adapt in ways that clients need to move at the speed of culture. We’re also seeing new players coming into the advertising space, from consultancies to production companies, looking to do and offer more, and creating new service options for marketers. Regardless of this evolution in our industry, true creative talent, breakthrough strategy and powerful ideas will always reign.
2) With the massive influx of new channels and platforms, and the reality of tighter marketing budgets, there’s a growing need from clients to really hone in on an approach that’s most effective for their brand. While most of the industry separates media and creative services, we don’t believe this leads to the best outcome. This year, we invested in a media services division and brought on media mastermind Grace Teng to lead this practice, with a focus on developing more well-rounded strategies for our clients. We also always hire creative talent whose skills reach far beyond traditional advertising, and whose approach is adaptable and always pushing for new and better ways of doing things. The result is that we’re able to better meld media, creative, and technology thinking and execution, and ultimately deliver the right work that reaches the right audience at the right time.
3) In terms of work that we’re proud of, I think that the Vitaminwater Active “Sorta-Fit Spokesguy” serves as a great case study of a brand forging its own path within a category. Recognizing that most people see sports drinks being consumed by only athletes or sports personalities, we believed there was an opportunity in creating a brand and drink for the rest of us—those that maybe only want to exercise occasionally and are far from fitness fanatics. Finding a unique positioning and audience within this crowded category was an interesting and fun task for us, and I love the outcome of the work.
In terms of challenges, every creative is forever challenged to keep a core idea on track throughout the process, and deliver against a specific business goal. But that’s our job, of course, and the path to the best work.
4) While this is nothing new, I think there will be a continued push from most brands for innovative, creative solutions outside of traditional advertising and media. That said, there’s a lot of cross-pollination happening right now. It’s interesting to see more non-traditional, progressive companies like Google and Facebook becoming more present in traditional places, and using powerful imagery as a means to break through and truly capture people’s attention.
There’s also a growing consciousness in culture of the time and focus we put into our digital devices—and also a recognition that we have greater clarity when we’re off of them and more present and awake to the world around us. I think that the brands that understand that and are very thoughtful and strategic in how they use both traditional and non-traditional marketing will win. There are certainly great benefits and opportunities in both.
5) A pretty standard resolution for me each year is to surround myself with inspiring people that are pioneering in their fields and pushing the status quo. Outside of advertising, I’m a fine artist and produce a lot of conceptual sculpture, and these types of inspiring influences are a huge driver of all of my work both in and out of the office.
For our creative department at Zambezi, we’re always looking to dial up the craft in our work, and next year will be no exception to that focus. Now more than ever, anyone can create things, whether it be on their phone, tablet, computer or other, yet beautifully crafted and evocative work will always be the ticket to break through.
In my personal life, I’d like to see through some significant art pieces made with new materials by the middle of next year.