Amy Kean’s nine advertising predictions for 2020
From the commodification of outrage to a certain social media company finally taking over the world, and from crazy collaborations to the rise of 'wokevertising', Amy Kean list the nine things that 2020 will herald.
Look. You’re just gonna have to trust me when I say that last weekend I travelled to the inner depths of Blairadam Forest, and in that forest was a cave and in that cave was a psychic witch, and that psychic witch told me (in a shaky Scottish voice), that if I paid her a thousand euros, she’d give me nine advertising predictions for 2020 that will absolutely happen.
I was sceptical, but as she started talking (well, it was more of a wail) her prophesising felt painfully astute. All these big consultancies and agencies say they use *data* to identify their trends for the year ahead, but why use data when you have access to actual supernatural powers?
There’s no doubt that all eyes will be on one humongous economic event this year: the Center Parcs IPO. This really big deal I keep seeing Twitter ads about will be the talk of the town (and those cobbly little streets around the water dome). But aside from that long-awaited milestone and the things we’re already expecting - Brexit, royal deaths and the world’s oceans to boil over and evaporate – there’re some developments that we, the advertising industry, need to prepare for.
And so, here are my predictions – based on zero data, maximum observation and the expertise of a Scottish medium. They will all absolutely happen. And, you’re welcome.
1. People will say outrageous things
In 2019 the serendipitous spat between Piers Morgan and Greggs over their vegan sausage roll proved that outrage drives sales. It also generates clicks, which is why nasty newspaper columnists are getting even nastier (‘grown-up’ newspaper the Telegraph called Rebecca Long-Bailey the love child of an alien and Mrs Merton in a headline last week). In 2020, everyone will be doing it for the ‘rage’. Clients will ask you, “where’s my outrage?” ‘YoY outrage % increase’ will be a KPI and PR agencies will draft lists of influencers to disgust as part of every product launch.
2. But we’ll be killed with kindness
If kindness is a rainstorm, last year we saw spitting. This year is the massive downpour. How heart-bashingly depressing that kindness is spoken of as a trend, yet I predict every brand, from chocolate bars to electric cars, will use it as a creative device.
Diet Coke will release a line extension called Diet Kind (because their advertising no longer makes any sense).
Every other TV ad will be about being nicer in such an unauthentic, annoying way it’ll make us hate each other, and ourselves. Kinder eggs will create a campaign with the strapline, “be kinder” and Diet Coke will release a line extension called Diet Kind (because their advertising no longer makes any sense).
3. Collaborations get cray
I mean… if the Ivy Park x Adidas partnership doesn’t result in the word being officially changed to collaBEYration I’ll eat my hat, but aside from that, 2020 will be the year of batshit crazy collabs.
Last year we saw Heinz Mayonnaise and Cadburys Crème Egg come together (it was apparently very nice!), but this year expect Boohoo and Birdseye Potato Waffles, IKEA x David Cameron (he’s used to completely dismantling things) and maybe Dolmio x Durex? Who knows! Let’s brainstorm!
4. Burger King will out-Burger King Burger King
They don’t talk about it much, but the Burger King marketing department enjoys stunts. Their last was the reveal that every product shot of 2019 had a Big Mac behind it. In 2020, they’ll trick advertising and themselves so hard they’ll create an ad that parodies an ad that Burger King might make using only drones in the middle of Times Square with an AI cyborg selling limited edition CBD burgers. They’ll sweep the board at Cannes, and no one will know what the hell is going on anymore.
5. Wokevertising will confuse us all
In 2020, it will be impossible to pull apart what is irony and what is not, until all of us stop talking completely (apart from white, male… oh, you know). Woke is a word no one knows whether to use or not. When we use it, are we mocking ourselves, or other people? ‘Wokevertising’ will be referenced at every industry conference.
You can bet your ass that brands doing good things will piss the experts off more than brands doing horrible things.
Sometimes it’ll be serious and sometimes it’ll be jokes, but you can bet your ass that brands doing good things will piss the experts off more than brands doing horrible things, like funding Trump or not paying taxes.
6. Adland will finally find a use for AI
After a few years of HYPE! HYPE! HYPE! around artificial intelligence, we’ll locate its best use case: for industry magazines to churn out lists that get so niche and specific they sound like Netflix categories. The top 20 designers under 27 who once went to Silicon Valley and now they have a start-up that doesn’t make any money? There’s a list for that. (It’s in Forbes… I think).
7. Krispy Kreme will rename themselves Krispy Karen on International Women’s Day
If you thought diversity-used-as-brand-building had reached its peak, you would be wrong, sir. There’s so much more room for businesses and individuals to ride that equality pony, yet do very little.
The number of panels where everyone agrees that “something must be done” will triple.
This year, the number of press releases about diversity initiatives will double, the number of panels where everyone agrees that “something must be done” will triple and, inevitably, the gender pay gap in agencies will increase. (To be clear, I like Krispy Kremes, it was just a fun headline).
8. Podcasts will become the most prominent form of social stratification
If you don’t have your own podcast in 2020 you’ll be considered a member of the underclass (which is likely to make a MASSIVE comeback this year!), and the Labour Party will start canvassing for your votes.
9. Facebook will take over the world
This is the thing I’m most excited about in 2020. Facebook will finally unleash the thing they’ve been working behind the scenes: a 2.45 billion-piece army of clones that look, sound and act like every single member of the not-at-all-evil social platform. In turn, Mark Zuckerberg will use this clone army to invade and quickly gain control of the entire world.
The only words we’ll hear come from its mirror-image robot mouth will be: “You fool. You tiny, timeline-loving, meme-peddling, data-sharing fool”.
He’s been building them this whole time, using all that stuff about lies in political advertising by way of distraction. And as every single one of us comes face to face with our own emotionless clone, in those last few moments before an inevitable death-by-poking, the only words we’ll hear come from its mirror-image robot mouth will be: “You fool. You tiny, timeline-loving, meme-peddling, data-sharing fool”. Hey, it was bound to happen one day.
So, by the time the psychic witch finished her predictions, I was almost speechless. “And… all of that is absolutely going to happen in 2020?” I asked. She nodded. “But there’ll be other things…” she added, in her shaky voice. “You know, like… London-based creative strategists will take one isolated case study and present it as a ‘trend’ to a client. Experiential will become more corporate and, at some point ,an OOH ad will literally slap a passer-by around the face.
Advertising is like our annoying little brother: we can bitch about it, but no one else can.
"But… and this is the best bit, dear,” she said, with an intense stare, as the sharp winds of Blairadam Forest howled. “The best thing to happen in 2020 is that you’ll all be reminded why you love - and are lucky - to work in advertising.
“In 2020 there’ll be funny ads, silly ads, slick ads, pretentious ads you love to hate and ads that stick in your head to such extents you have to medicate them away. Remember: critique is not negativity. Negativity is bad, but being able to laugh at ourselves is good. Self-awareness… is good.”
Remember: critique is not negativity. Negativity is bad, but being able to laugh at ourselves is good.
Bloody hell, I thought, as I left her cave. That was an interesting experience! Luckily I’m a millennial, and we crave experiences. (Totally worth the thousand euros.) But I realised on the train back down to London that everything she said was true. Advertising is like our annoying little brother: we can bitch about it, but no one else can. Not even Scottish psychic witches, despite how observant they are.
Because it’s all ridiculous, isn’t it? But really, deep down, we love it.