marketing trends 2018

Unmissable Marketing Trend Insights for 2018 Strategy

Alex Jones 6 years ago

2017 has been a strong year in the world of PR & Marketing. We’ve seen amazing campaigns, unique concepts and creative genius showcased through the mediums of print, television and digital.

It’s not all been smooth sailing, of course. Brands have made mistakes, missing the mark in terms of taste and messaging on several occasions, providing a timely reminder to the rest of us about the importance of thinking through ideas before unleashing them upon the public.

Because we live in a reality dictated by the concept of chronology, time inevitably keeps up its relentless march, and before we know it 2018 will arrive, bringing with it another 12 months in which to create incredible pieces of marketing goodness.

But creatives take note, for those who ignore history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. So what can we learn from the trials and tribulations of 2017? And what clues has it given us in terms of the trends and technology that will be crucial to success in 2018?

Below I will be playing the part of Nostradamus and giving you my predictions for key elements which will make a big impact in 2018.

1. The Unmissable PR Event


The elite athletes who attempted Nike’s Breaking2 campaign.

How do you ensure your brand's PR stunt is going to get noticed by the masses? Simple. Make it an event that is simply unmissable for your target audience.

Ok, so that’s easier said than done, but it’s a strategy which has been utilised on two separate occasions now to great effect. The first was by Red Bull, who sponsored and funded Felix Baumgartner’s death-defying leap from the edge of space, breaking the free-fall world record in the process.

The second happened earlier this year with Nike’s campaign to try and coach the world’s elite runners into completing a marathon in under two hours. Unfortunately, the athletes fell agonisingly short, but for Nike, the campaign had achieved its goal. They amassed an enormous amount of coverage for their brand and positioned themselves as pioneers of the running world.

It’s a bold and expensive strategy, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more mammoth events take place like this, with one of the world’s leading brands curating the whole thing from the sidelines.

2. Voice Tech


“OK Google.” “Hey Siri.” “Alexa, can you…”

Who needs remotes when you can just speak to your devices and let them do all the hard work? A lot has been said about this emerging technology, concerning its potential, its limitations and how marketers can attempt to utilise this platform to their advantage.

Experts estimate that voice assistant technology will operate with 99% accuracy by 2019, many believing this to be the year that voice will truly take over. However, 2018 will be the year of the early adopters, so expect many campaigns to include additional features which can be accessed through voice search.

There have been a few instances of voice promotion this year. The Lego Batman Movie partnered with Siri so that when you uttered the phrase, 'Hey Computer', Siri would respond with a litany of movie related phrases.


A selection of Siri’s Lego Batman prompts and responses.

While voice might still be a viewed as something as a novelty so far, do not be caught sleeping on this! 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice daily and it’s only a matter of time before marketing uses this format in a more robust fashion.

3. Augmented Reality


Crème Egg getting in on the augmented reality fun.

Sometimes the confines of our own reality can be limiting. Sometimes we need a black and white filter or a computer-generated image to enhance our enjoyment of the real world, right?

Enter the concept of augmented reality, which has been exploited to great effect by platforms such as Snapchat which added face shifting filters to its offering and subsequently experienced a surge in popularity.

Since then brands have been offered the chance to create their own custom filters, which allow people to have a bit of fun some clever marketing. It’s not exactly subtle as the above image highlights, but sometimes the blunt instrument approach can pay dividends.

And the amount of those dividends could be substantial. Jay Samit, of the Digital Reality practice at Deloitte Digital, believes that augmented reality is a trillion dollar opportunity…

“Within this decade, augmented reality is going to change the way the always-connected consumer works, shops and plays.

Once contextual marketing seamlessly transitions to commerce, it will be trusted brands—and the savvy marketers who manage them—that help consumers augment their world with tailored experiences to enhance their daily lives."

Augmented reality specialists Magic Leap are also looking to raise another $1 billion in funding this year and are expected to announce a software development kit in December. Exciting times are ahead.

4. Socially Conscious Themes


Kendall Jenner starring in THAT Pepsi ad.

We live in a socially conscious time. People are battling the system and standing up for what they believe in more than ever before. And with social media, now everybody has a platform to rally against many an injustice that may rear its ugly head in modern society.

For many brands, this seems like an opportunity. You get to help a good cause as well as positioning yourself as a caring business to potential customers.

But it’s a minefield.

In the past, clumsy marketers have fallen victim to the wrath of incensed onlookers who have seen a 'socially conscious campaign' as lazy, patronising and offensive. Case in point? Pepsi, who made headlines for all the wrong reasons with their 'black lives matter' inspired ad, fronted by Kendall Jenner.

Pepsi recruited Ms Jenner to front an advert in which a protest was underway, and the riot police had been called in. Kendall would go on to calm tensions by offering the police a can of Pepsi, at which point both sides realised “everything is good again”.

This didn’t go down well with anybody. The advert was accused of making light of the tensions involved in these protests and suggesting all anybody needed was a sugary drink to resolve these issues. As a result, Pepsi were caught up in a whirlwind of controversy and the advert was subsequently pulled.

We’re living in a time where these issues can no longer be ignored, and for better or worse, brands are going to continue to try and connect with these topics in a (hopefully) sensitive and respectful way.

Just don’t do a Kendall.

5. Programmatic


Campaigns which span across a plethora of different platforms are nothing new, but the idea that a campaign can be specifically designed to span platforms in tune with the habits of an individual is a game changing concept.

Manual ad-buying in the past has been responsible for attempting this feat in the past, but with programmatic that power has been bestowed to the machines, and they have returned encouraging results.

Currently, it’s primarily online ads that are traded programmatically, but in 2018 don’t be surprised to see marketing agencies attempt to sell 'traditional' media this way, including TV/radio spots and out-of-home ads. The idea of promoting content using this method is also something that has been touted as an exciting avenue to explore.

6. SEO-First PR


The symbiosis of PR and SEO is something I’ve been championing for a while now, and it’s slowly but surely starting to happen. 2018 is the year where PR agencies will have to wise up to the world of SEO and start to put it front and centre when it comes to the formation of their campaigns.

There is an argument that these technical necessities can get in the way of the creative process, and hamper an idea. And while I agree that it adds an additional hurdle to take into consideration, if overcome, the prize at the end of it will be much greater and increase performance a lot more than an SEO-free campaign.

Brand awareness is great. Brand awareness, a boost to organic search performance and capturing high value keywords, is even better.

7. Visual Storytelling


Whether this is in the form of a video or a piece of in depth on page content, a wall of text is no longer going to cut it when it comes to getting an audience involved in your campaign.

A prime example of this was the Meet Graham campaign created by the Victoria Transport Accident Commission. They created a new website for the campaign which you can take a look at here -

I’ve banged on about how great this campaign is several times before, but what gets me every time is the transparency and access the viewer is given to every aspect of the design. We get to find out why it was created, how they found the information, who they interviewed and how they created the model.

It’s a journalist's dream, there’s so much detail to sink your teeth into!

Aside from the additional information that visuals can bring, it also adds a bit of life into proceedings. It’s 2017 and we’re constantly bombarded with thousands of media messages every day, so standing out is essential. Get that design team working!

Here are a few more reasons why visuals are so important, courtesy of Hubspot.

  • When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later
  • 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it
  • Using the word 'video' in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%

8. Postmodern PR


The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali.

Post Modernism – “This set of ideas is a reaction to—and, to some extent, a rejection of—the ideas of modernism.”

Ok… just bear with me on this.

We’ve seen some suspect PR campaigns and techniques utilised in 2017. Many would chalk these down to misjudgements made within the team, but what if the goals and ROIs set for these campaigns were not your traditional (modern) objectives?

I’ve spoken in the past about whether or not coordinating negative publicity is a worthwhile practice, and the evidence suggests that the answer (in most cases) is a firm no.

But what if the objectives of a campaign were to achieve something much subtler than this? To create not negativity, but perhaps confusion or bewilderment. These emotions are incredibly strong, and while we’re desensitised to most standard forms of marketing, messages which tap into these feelings can prove to be incredibly effective.

A recent campaign by Trivago seemed to be, on the surface, a very lazy attempt at a location takeover. The hotel comparison service plastered duplicate images of a very dull advert across almost every ad space in several London Underground stations. The one main feature? A lady standing casually to one side, not exactly smiling… just standing.


The now infamous “Trivago girl”.

My first reaction was to dismiss this entire campaign as a failure. The advert was dull, it looked rushed and they tried to compensate for this by plastering it thousands of times across the underground network. It was also well…a bit creepy. Better luck next time guys!

But then I saw the coverage...


It was everywhere!

People had the exact reaction that I did, and it had become something of a phenomenon. Pieces were written by premier titles such as: The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard running stories on the campaign as well as social media lighting up with people comparing their reactions to the 'Trivago girl'.

A lucky conclusion to a terrible campaign? Perhaps. Or an ingenious display of multi-levelled postmodern PR? We might never know. Just keep an eye out on marketing absurdities in 2018; not all might be what it seems.

Those were my top PR and Marketing trends that I think are going to light the world on fire in 2018. Have I missed any out that you think might take the globe by storm? Let me know in the comments below!

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