1) I think there were two valuable trends in 2019.
One is that brands, marketers, and agencies are finally waking up to the fact that we don’t have to choose between “product” advertising and “purpose” advertising. More brands than ever before are finding the right balance between work that builds equity for the long-term and work that borrows equity for short-term sales wins. We no longer live in a binary media world and being able to use all the crayons in our box is what makes this the most exciting time to build brands.
Two is that the best brands and marketers are finally creating bespoke work that fully unlocks the potential of social media. We’re seeing less and less work that just re-purposes traditional television and print advertising in digital spaces.
2) Instead of complaining about changes in the marketplace or the industry’s “broken model,” we did something about it. We’re not just thinking about great ideas; we’re making them. We dedicated over 25,000 square feet to maker space. We hired multiple directors and photographers. We built 25 edit suites, five audio recording and editing rooms, multiple mini-content studios, and even purchased a RAM truck for mobile content creation. We didn’t just adapt; we invested and created something clients truly want.
3) Our two most exciting campaigns of 2019 came from two unexpected places - healthcare and CPG.
To launch Allegheny Health Network’s revolutionary, first-in-the-nation postpartum center, we partnered with Chrissy Teigen on #MyWishForMoms, a campaign designed to end the silence and give new moms the help they need. This campaign, based in Pittsburgh, ignited a global conversation that is helping overcome the stigma around PPD and has led to more people searching for help on Google than any time in history.
My second proudest moment of 2019 was the attention we received for a Farmland bacon social campaign. When fashion brand Supreme stole the Farmland logo for a line of hats, we didn’t promote legal action; we went social on them and backed it up with content featuring pork farmers in Supreme gear. Overnight, this campaign turned a regional pork producer into the darling of the social media elite, proving that any brand, properly executed, can participate and even dominate in culture.
4) The lines are unquestionably being blurred and that leads to massive opportunities for brands and agencies. Last year, during the Oscars, to celebrate A Star is Born, a billboard was put up in Hollywood with Lady Gaga that matched the “Ally” billboard featured in the film. It was a cool way for life to imitate art. We saw this as an opportunity for Netflix and put up a billboard opposite “Ally” for Amy Schumer’s new show that just said “Amy.”
5) This is more of wish than a prediction. My hope is that, in 2020, we will see an end to the false premise that “data is the new creativity.” This false narrative has led to years of “blandvertising.” This premise incorrectly assumes that context is more important than content. In 2020, I hope to see more work that blends data with creativity with content with an approach to context. We used this approach on behalf of Potbelly and saw great success for the brand.