As we start to brush off the New Year celebrations across the world and prepare for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations in the East, it’s time to wrap up our reflections from 2022 and begin to get excited for what’s to come in 2023. For us at MSQ Global Studios, a newly launched creative and production studio based in Singapore, Shanghai, London and New York, there’s a lot to be excited about. And whilst it’s been no easy feat, I’ve tried to single out six main trends that I’ll be looking out for most in the year ahead.
1. Brand-led communications
We been preaching it for a while, but now we’re really starting to see more and more clients adopt brand-out communication principles and talk about utilising their distinctive brand assets in their creative briefs.
Put simply, this approach is about starting the creative process with a client’s most valuable assets, the ones that make them distinctively them. It could be a colour, a logo, a line, a sonic or a swoosh. It’s then about taking that valuable asset and combining it with storytelling and science to build memory structures that ultimately increase brand awareness, recall and preference. You’re putting those creative dollars to better use – and providing a much smarter and clearer starting point.
2. Conversion first storytelling
With the typical consumer journey no longer being anything linear, the opportunity for a ‘first touch purchase’ is huge. Yet, we still think about the consumer funnel as awareness through to conversion. Sure, there are people that need convincing that the product is the best in the market. But there are others (like me) that buy on impulse, and for them/us, storytelling and content that drives action and enables conversion from the top of the funnel down removes the barrier to purchase. You’re making those consumers’ lives easier - and isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?
3. Sustainable Production
We’re all super aware of the impact we’re having on the planet and the production of content is playing a part in this too. More so than ever, clients are looking for sustainable agency partners and solutions. Going beyond planting trees to offset presentations and actually looking at how we as an industry minimise the impact of production on the environment. That means limiting flights, using shoots to capture more than one piece, using LED lighting, looking at cloud-based solutions for storage and carbon offsetting…there’s a long list of options, and we’ve even started to see those requirements find their way into request for proposals (RFPs). That’s refreshing and positive.
4. Virtual Production
Virtual Production took off during the pandemic and is here to stay. Using real-time gaming engines to create virtual sets, offering creative teams and clients almost limitless creative freedom? Need a golden hour for a 16-hour shoot day in Paris, Dubai and London? Not a problem. From working with new tech providers to developing our own innovations, I can’t wait to explore the possibilities for smarter production even further this year.
5. Creative Technology (AI & Automotion)
We’ve all had a play with the new AI Platforms. I’ve lost count of the number of times I tried to generate a decent ‘Santa on Vacation’ piece. And it’s not just the studios playing around either – brands are dabbling in online platforms too, testing their capabilities to write a brief that machines will understand. It’s fun – but will 2023 be the year things move beyond the trivial? I predict not due to the inconsistent results that the machines churn out, they’re often fun most times funny. But, not always brand safe, as the database grows and the machines learns, this will change.
That said, I do see a trend in modular and automated content continuing to grow in popularity. How do I get more for less and how do I deliver personalised and relevant content for channels across the entire consumer journey. That’s the real question on most marketers’ lips. And for 2023, it’s something modular and automated content is still well placed to solve.
6. Virtual Influencers
I’ve saved the best for last. Just when you thought you’d seen it all… A few months ago our Shanghai team set up an introduction with a virtual influencer. She has a team of creatives leading her life, a huge social media following and won’t put a foot wrong when it comes to brand collaborations (just don’t expect them to physically turn up to your influencer event). Virtual influencers are already huge in China, with growing interest from brands and agencies across Asia. I can’t wait to see how this one develops.
There are of course a ton of other trends that I’ve missed off the list, like short-from video, podcasts and collaborative marketing. I could go on for hours. But I think there’s little doubt that the above six areas will be across all of our radars over the next twelve months.
Of course, there’ll be further curveballs along the way. And whatever stage of maturity your brand or business is at, there’ll be new innovations to embrace, new investment to make and new partnerships to explore. That’s what makes what we do fun. And, I hope, if you take the right approach, is what will make your content more effective and engaging too.
The writer is Andy Edmonds, general manager of MSQ Studios Asia
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