What to expect from the next year in… Advertising

What are the big changes, trends, issues and innovations likely to sway the adverts we see on our screens this year? We ask creatives from VCCP, Engine, Strange Beast, 4Creative and BETC to offer their insights into what 2020 holds for adland.

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Of all the creative outlets we cover on It’s Nice That, advertising can often be the most incisive reflection of current culture, while simultaneously having the power to cause the most controversy. Where open-minded brands and innovative creatives meet, great ads are made, and they get everyone talking.

But what does the next year hold for adland, and what are the major events, innovations and issues likely to affect the industry’s future? To gauge the climate and offer predictions, we’ve asked the creative teams behind some of this year’s most memorable campaigns to share insights and ambitions from their corner: VCCP, which created a fashion collection for Domino’s pizza designed by Liam Hodges; Strange Beast, which produced an animated campaign for Day of the Girl, telling a story of empowerment and rebellion; 4Creative, which got stars like Grayson Perry to relay the offensive remarks viewers have made about them in Complaints Welcome; Engine, which rebranded Churchill, and in turn the Churchill dog – putting him on a skateboard; and BETC, the agency that landed every creative’s dream client, Lego, making its first brand campaign in 30 years.

Gallery4Creative

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Complaints Welcome

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Derry Girls mural

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Great British Bake Off

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Derry Girls mural

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Great British Bake Off

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Great British Bake Off

Lynsey Atkin, executive creative director at 4Creative

It's Nice That: Is there something in particular you would like your industry to discuss or tackle in 2020?

Lynsey Atkin:Properly questioning our socio-economic diversity. I’m very fortunate to be of an age when, on leaving art college, you could work in a pub to pay the bills (wahey) whilst you dithered about with your portfolio and figured out what the hell you wanted to do. But today’s world of impossible rents and work-for-almost-free cultures mean those scratching their way into the industry are increasingly simply those who can afford it. It’s a bit of a massive problem when money doesn’t equal talent, in any discipline. We need to be doing more in terms of genuine, long-term access to jobs to help us be more reflective and inclusive of the society we work hard to entertain. (BTW I don’t have the answers but let’s look for some. If you’re up for it, please email me).

INT:What trends or stylistic attributes do you think we’re going to see in advertising in the next 12 months?

LA:A hangover from a general election, Brexit, Trump 2020, the slow agonising death of our planet… It’s not looking like a bumper year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue to turn out a bit of fantastical entertainment amidst the mushroom cloud. Because as a colleague once said, “Everyone loves a squirrel”. In other words, we all generally enjoy a distraction. Terrifying political decision looming? “Look over there! A squirrel!” Feels better, doesn’t it?

INT:What would you like to personally do within your medium in 2020?

LA:I’m hoping to uphold the brilliant legacy of my predecessors and the wonderful world that is 4Creative. Next year we’ll be figuring out how we can be more digital and more noisy for a brand whose remit of offering alternative views and championing unheard voices is more important than ever.

INT:Are there any major innovations or events that are likely to impact your industry, and its creative work, this year?

LA:In a world of navel-gazing and self-interested politicians, I’d venture it falls to art and commerce to lead the way. People will look to businesses and the media to in part set the agenda and more fully to set the mood and the tone. So we’ve got a responsibility to be hopeful and tolerant and frankly, dazzling.

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VCCP and Liam Hodges: Fashion for Domino's

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VCCP: Donate Your Words for Cadbury

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VCCP: Save Our Shirt for Paddy Power

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VCCP: Donate Your Words for Cadbury

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VCCP: Save Our Shirt for Paddy Power

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VCCP: Save Our Shirt for Paddy Power

Shirin Majid, deputy creative director at VCCP Kin

It's Nice That:What’s the biggest change in advertising you would like to see this year?

Shirin Majid:I’d like to see a return to the challenger behaviour of the early 2000s. When social media crashed its way into advertising, everyone was hacking platforms and exploring new ways to use them. Because it was uncharted territory, there was a lot more opportunity for originality. Recently, it’s all gone a bit same-same but different. Now, “there are no new ideas” is the dictum of disheartened creatives Googling their lightbulbs. But it’s not that the ideas aren’t there. I see more and more of the most compelling ideas gathering dust on the cutting-room floor due to their ambition. More than ever, we need brave teams and clients to push through the big ideas.

INT:Is there something in particular you would like your industry to discuss or tackle in 2020?

SM:Ageism. One of our planners demonstrated ageism in action on a recent panel focused on rethinking stereotypes. He Googled “over 50” in images and found nothing but stock footage of grey-haired grannies and funeral plans. And apparently, they’re all white too! Tackling ageism isn’t just about talking about it or making sure there are “old people” in ads. It’s about normalising people above 50 as still relevant. It’s about recognising that people over 50 don’t drop off a cultural cliff. They’re into music, fashion, film, art, politics, literature… and even social media. This has a lot to do with the fact that you see very few creatives over 50 in agencies – those with the power and perspective to reverse such stereotypes. I’m hoping by the end of this new decade, age will be as normalised in agencies as it is in the ads.

INT:What trends or stylistic attributes do you think we’re going to see in advertising in 2020?

SM:It’s going to get more real, more hyperreal, and more surreal. If the 2010s were the Decade of Social, the 2020s will be the Era of New Realities. Augmented reality will gradually evolve from novelty to normal, bringing a new dimension to everything from newspapers to billboards. Mirrorworld will blow everyone’s minds. Oh, what’s that you say? Only a hyper-detailed layer of interactive information over the real world! It will basically make the real world clickable, merging our physical and digital realities.

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Strange Beast and Parallel Teeth: Day of the Girl for Vow

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Strange Beast, Anna Ginsburg and Melissa Kitty Jarram: Ugly

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Strange Beast and Caitlin McCarthy: The Bra for Nike

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Strange Beast, Anna Ginsburg and Melissa Kitty Jarram: Ugly

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Strange Beast and Caitlin McCarthy: The Bra for Nike

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Strange Beast and Caitlin McCarthy: The Bra for Nike

Kitty Turley, executive producer at Strange Beast

It's Nice That:What’s the biggest change in advertising you would like to see next year?

Kitty Turley:Even more animated content, obvs! I also think over the past few years, we’ve seen quite a cynical trend of companies aligning themselves with political causes as a way to sell more products, without actually actioning anything meaningful to further that cause. This has always sat uncomfortably with me. So I would like 2020 to be the year that sees the contents of work be better reflected in the practices of the companies that commission them.

INT:Is there something in particular you would like the animation and advertising industries to discuss or tackle in 2020?

KT:There are a lot of conversations that need to be continued as we shift decades. Representation is high on that list – I’d like to see meaningful strategies actioned across the industry, and I include our company within that. We need to keep the momentum high and continuous. I also think we need to discuss work/life balance and be more honest about how it impacts mental health and personal relationships. The pace dictated by the industry and the pressure we put on ourselves holds us all to an impossible standard, and it is unsustainable.

INT:What trends or stylistic attributes do you think we’re going to see in animation in advertising in 2020?

KT:Limited colour palettes, unusually proportioned character designs, and lots of close-to-the-bone content (please).

INT:Are there any major innovations or events that are likely to impact your industry, and its creative work, next year?

KT:Global ecological collapse? And a more nerdy answer: the Eden Snacker headset could have a big impact in the use of VR, removing a lot of barriers to entry.

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Engine, Zombie Studio and Blinkink: The Bitter Bond for the Born Free Foundation

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Engine, Untold Studios and Nicolai Fuglsig: Churchill campaign

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Engine: No room for clichés, for the RAF

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Engine, Untold Studios and Nicolai Fuglsig: Churchill campaign

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Engine: No room for clichés, for the RAF

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Engine: No room for clichés, for the RAF

Ete Davies, chief executive officer at Engine Creative

It's Nice That:Is there something in particular you would like your industry to discuss or tackle in 2020?

Ete Davies:I’d like our industry to tell more stories that bring people together through commonality, rather than perpetuating stereotypes. I would like to see a continuation of the progress towards more diversity in advertising. But also making sure that representation happens both in front and behind the camera, especially with the teams making the work.

INT:What trends or stylistic attributes do you think we’re going to see in advertising in 2020?

ED:I think we’re going to see continued growth in native and contextual ads, but also editorially driven content – content that is not only valuable, relevant, easily consumable and sharable but, critically, is delivered with an editorial tone of voice that will excite the target audience and provoke conversation. We’ll also see more cross-platform consumer behaviour, leading to cross-platform creative, for example, TV interacting with Alexa or Google Home.

INT:Are there any major innovations or events that are likely to impact your industry, and its creative work, next year?

ED:There will be greater use of AI to drive not only personalisation, but also distinctive brand advertising and experiences, finding the magic balance between optimised and engaging. We’ll also see advertising becoming even smarter. The recent launch by Google of Google Ad automation and smart bidding means brands can manage their exposure and interaction more closely than ever – the biggest win being able to change bids automatically when sales start or stop. Finally, AR and voice will provide opportunities for multi-channel storytelling innovation. 5G will also explode the potential for interactive branded content, especially for entertainment brands.

INT:Who or what (apart from you and your agency!) should we be keeping an eye on next year, and why?

ED:The Mill – it’s always playing on the edge of creativity and emerging technology, often experimenting with brands on future experiences, products and services before they become the norm. 

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BETC: Rebuild the World for Lego

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BETC: Beesexual for Pornhub

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BETC: The Little Duck for Disneyland Paris

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BETC: Beesexual for Pornhub

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BETC: The Little Duck for Disneyland Paris

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BETC: The Little Duck for Disneyland Paris

Lauren Haberfield, senior art director at BETC

It's Nice That:What’s the biggest change in advertising you would like to see next year?

Lauren Haberfield:We all need to work a little harder in this industry to be good people first. We’re so obsessed with being progressive and at the top of our game that we sometimes forget the world outside our agencies. I believe we all have a responsibility to try to make that world a little bit better. When you take a step back and look at the work, we are still following some archaic practices that are no longer relevant. It’s almost 2020, we need to stop showing a majority of caucasian straight men and women in our communications and we need to stop retouching everybody to look like creepy, unrealistic, unnatural dolls.

INT:What is something you would like your industry to discuss or tackle in 2020?

LH:As surprising as this might sound, we haven’t actually solved the gender equality issue yet. Sure we’ve made many inspiring campaigns that have helped advance the movement and change perception but at the end of the day, we need to look inside our walls and make a change, now. These are the facts, women are still paid less for equal work and according to the 3% movement, only 29 per cent of creative director roles are filled by women.

INT:What trends or stylistic attributes do you think we’re going to see in advertising in 2020?

LH:The trend of purpose-driven advertising is not going anywhere. For the first time ever, consumers believe that brands can solve social problems better than governments. This is not only exciting from a creative point of view but we truly have the power (and the clients consent!) to see just how far one idea can go to impact the world in a positive way. I believe in 2020 we will be seeing more and more brands commit to making social change in any way they can, it’s now up to us to keep those ideas genuine and relevant.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on news@itsnicethat.com.

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