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Leo Burnett’s London based Futures Editor, Ben Hourahine, created a nifty little video titled the “Trends Predictions Report”.
Here is how the YouTube video content is described by the authors:

“The key dynamics in culture, communication, advertising and marketing:
Mass is back (Say hello to the Swell Society).
At the turn of this year online downloads were included as part of the UK Christmas pop chart for the first time ever. This trend of online popularity being institutionalized shows that mass appeal will once again define marketing attitudes. The goal is the same; reach a mass audience, the difference is how to achieve it. Say hello to the Swell Society.
Community Commerce.
Community connections will become more central to business practice. Retailers will seek to bring the community further inside the store, with more coffee shops, banking services and pharmacies within supermarkets. On the other side, community connections are being used to create new businesses for established brands.
Screen Saturation.
Moving forward we will see the explosion of screen-based media, with screens on the side of buses, in petrol stations, supermarkets, the home and the pocket. While the medium may remain the same, the reach, context, audience and role of the media will be tweaked. There will be more broadcast screens than ever in 2010 and things are only going to get bigger: According to Sharp, the electronics manufacturer, the average television screen size will be 60″ by 2015.
Gender Reversal.
More women in work and the increasing role played by men within the family will see marketers change their focus. Men’s interest and investment in the family will continue to rise as well, morphing the gender balance and changing the advertising context. Expect to see more and more campaigns aimed at women at work and men in the home.
Brand Guardians.
The role of brands is evolving and will enter a new phase. With growing concerns over how to be healthy, safe and environmentally friendly, mixed with a real confusion about how to achieve this, we will see brands increasingly attempting to take on a guardian role.
IP Idols.
Artists are grabbing control of their creative product. Intellectual Property (creative works — ideas, songs, movies, TV shows) used to be owned and licensed by studios, record labels and other commercial institutions, but we will see artists back in the driving seat.
The Data Awareness Era.
The public will be more aware of their data exposure than ever before and privacy concerns will be a defining issue in the future. Expect this trend to accelerate with the introduction of GPS location based information, the explosion in online information storage and social networking increasingly reflecting real life…
Social Networks Get Real.
Social networks like Facebook — once just virtual playgrounds – will now start to plug directly back into the real world. Increasingly we will see these networks beginning to dictate everyday life, influencing who people do business with, which parties, movies and gigs they go to, where they meet and with whom. Accelerating this shift is the advent and take up of mobile social networking: 14m people did it in 2007, and forecasts suggest it could hit 600m by the time the Olympics hits London in 2012.”

Interesting stuff. Lots of things to think about. And, a nice little advert for the folks at Leo Burnett. An “A” for effort and presentation style. That said, these are themes and riffs that many of us have been kicking around for a while in other forms but, it provides a good view of things and where they might be headed.
Some of the points remind me of one of my mentors from back in my early days of marketing, Jerry Reitman who, coincidently, used to head up Leo Burnett’s Direct Marketing division. He was a big influence on my career and is a hell of a nice guy. I spent a lot of time in the 1990’s working with and getting to know Jerry. One of the smartest direct marketing people I’ve ever come across.
Back to the video. What I like is the idea of swells, but I’m not so sure “mass is back”. In fact, I’m not so sure it ever went that far away. We just look at it through a different marketing lens these days. Call it an enlightenment about what mass represents in today’s world and how we choose to categorize and deal with it.
Now for social networks plugging back into the offline world. That is a huge trend worth watching and figuring out how to apply it to your brand and marketing efforts. What is critical is how it can be done with a non zero-sum mentality and approach. Further, the notion that communities and commerce can coincide is the focus of many currenet conversations in my world. Although, I have a much different way of thinking about communities and commerce than outlined above – we’ll leave that for another post.
And finally, the idea of Brand Guardians is interesting but fails to go far enough for my liking. I kind of agree with the angle taken, but wholeheartedly believe that the role of brand guardian is being diffused more so than ever before. Increasingly, we are seeing smart CMO’s and senior level marketers who are understanding that it comes down to a balanced mix of passionate employees, empowered front-line staff and customer service people that are truly the guardians. They are the tangible part of brand delivery in the consumer’s mind and cannot be undervalued. In many cases, unfriendly consumer generated content against a brand is the result of a guardianship slip in a front-line, human-to-human, moment of truth.
Following that line of thinking, the torch of guardianship can be effectively passed onto the consumer through consistent positive encounters. Bad product issues can be rescued by a great person who shows empathy and is genuine in the help and solutions they provide. Let’s face it, the product is often a commodity. It’s the person-to-person element forges the brand identity with the vast majority of consumers. This is the context for creating a remarkable moment-of-truth where consumers become a defender or guardian of the brand (i.e. the Nordstrom’s employee who gift wraps an item that was bought at another store.)
When a customer knows you are worth defending, they become your most credible advocate. I like to call it the 360 Degree brand guardianship model. Makes one rethink where to invest marketing dollars when you ask yourself if your customer service is doing your marketing for you in that regard? Deep thoughts before the Easter long week.
With that in mind, enjoy the video: