What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2022 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of this year and beyond?
The recession is going to be a major challenge for the industry moving forward. We’ve seen agencies making major layoffs due to client cutbacks and foreshadowing what is to come.
A challenge of the economic status in our industry is marketing budgets and where dollars are allocated. We saw an uptick in purpose driven marketing efforts during the pandemic, however as we continue to see the implications of the recession, the question is, will purpose based efforts continue to get the budget that they deserve? I hope brands will prioritize budgets to shine a light on issues communities face in this world. It’s our job as marketers to spotlight what’s not being discussed and I fear that our purpose may get lost as brands shrink their marketing budgets.
In addition, we could see a decline in test and learn projects like developing brands in the metaverse, but I’d remind brands that people appreciate access to unique products and experiences in the real world and that the metaverse is no different. This is why it’s integral for brands to continue to lean into the metaverse to truly engage and help shape what the space and experience looks like. I believe the metaverse and its foundational architecture will help brands finally connect with their customers.
In the pandemic, we also saw a rise in focus of senior level talent due to remote work, hybrid situations, etc. I believe the goal for the rest of 2022 and beyond is to see a concentration on fostering a younger generation of talent. There needs to be more of a focus on mentoring young people and investing in hiring and retaining them. Ultimately, this will diversify the scope of individuals in the industry, encouraging more diversity of thought.
How have any societal issues--such as the pandemic, the Supreme court decision on abortion, calls for equity, inclusion, diversity, racial and social justice--impacted the way you do business, company policies and/or selection of projects/creative content?
Berlin Cameron has always taken pride in advocating for an equitable industry, however the past few years have brought more challenges than ever in reaching that goal. For years, we’ve championed women-owned and women-loved brands through our advocacy group, LLSHE by Berlin Cameron, ensuring we’re partnering with clients that share our passion for change.
Yet, as we saw major societal shifts, including the first ever “SHEcession” (an economic recession impacting more women than men), we knew we had to do more. We stepped up in a variety of ways. For example, our campaign for No7, the “Unstoppable Together” job summit, and our pay equity work for P&G’s Secret Deodorant spoke directly to the inequitable workplace we’ve all become too accustomed to working in.
Outside of our campaign work, we also conducted a variety of research studies to highlight the inequity under-represented communities face. During Women’s History Month we surveyed women in a study, titled “Exploring the Exhaustion Gap” which revealed that women have been set back in the pandemic – ⅓ said it impacted their physical health and ½ said it impacted their mental health. Research like this is imperative as we look to see real movement on social issues women face on a daily basis, typically overlooked by society.
What’s the biggest takeaway or lessons learned from work (please identify the project) you were involved in this year?
Berlin Cameron has expanded to include new divisions, most recently adding a metaverse practice, working with clients like Under Armour, for which we have won several industry awards including a Gold Social Influencer Award, a Silver Entertainment award and a Bronze Creative Commerce award at Cannes Lions this year. Our award winning work with Under Armour included helping launch the world’s first wearable cross-platform metaverse sneaker to celebrate Stephen Curry’s NBA Three-Point Record. This revolutionary digital sneaker was designed to cross between the major metaverse platforms. Berlin Cameron also teamed with the Curry Brand to launch the largest branded cross-community NFT project in history.
The biggest lesson we learned during this process is the importance of building trust through education. Since the metaverse is an entirely new frontier to many of our clients, it was important that they feel comfortable entering the space and empowered by the knowledge we provided them regarding blockchain engineering, cryptocurrency markets and conversions to fiat, accounting and tax implications as well as general web3 user behavior. Internally, we had confidence and trust in our team to execute a NFT project that would resonate with the web3 community, even though it was a space that we’d never played in before as an agency. We trusted our instincts around the campaign creative, communications strategy, technology, metaverse partnerships and pricing - all of which contributed to our historic drop.
What work (advertising, entertainment, documentary) -- your own or others--struck a responsive chord with you this year and why?
I’ve been excited about work that finds creative ways to bring communities together to offer real world solutions. Our own work with Under Armour was not only successful because it was a revolutionary digital shoe, it’s because it prioritized bringing major metaverse platforms together to create a larger community of fans.
This same community-centered mindset helped inspire our work with NYX Professional Makeup on the launch of GORJS. They created the first-ever DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) all with the goal of creating a new community of artists who are redefining beauty in the metaverse.
Community and partnership was also at the core of the Unstoppable Together movement for No7. Ultimately, people want to be part of something greater that can connect us in fighting for causes that matter. Any brand that’s able to prioritize that way of thinking, strikes the right chord with me.
While gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to content creation and/or the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2022 and beyond.
I also believe that immersing yourself in the Web3 space will be extremely beneficial to brands as this vertical continues to evolve. It will be largely up to marketers to determine what the metaverse is going to look like and how people will interact with it. At the end of the day, I believe it offers major opportunities with limitless innovation. The hope is that brands push the boundaries of the metaverse and continue to create experiences that unveil what is truly possible with this technology and ensure we’re thinking with a utility-first mindest.
Has the first half of 2022 caused you to redefine or fine tune the goals of your company, division, studio or network--and if so, in what way(s)?
As mentioned, Berlin Cameron has also been fixated on creating a more equitable workplace for underrepresented individuals and the first half of 2022 only reassured and encouraged our purpose and goals. We’ve explored different areas where there wasn’t much research in the space and took it upon ourselves to create those findings. For example, we spearheaded a study that confronts the issue of female representation in the making and buying of NFTs. Women face challenges finding equal footing in the technology arena and the study showed that 82% of the women said brands are predominantly targeting males in the NFT space. We wanted to highlight that inequality to shine a light on how metaverse marketing is geared towards men while offering solutions to brands on how to alter that reality.