According to Warc’s Global Ad Trends report, mobile ad spend is tipped to overtake TV in 2019. How this shift will impact adland, and what trends we’ll begin to see play out as a result, was the focus of a recent event held by Facebook in partnership with Creative Review, IPA and D&AD.
Introducing the event, Valentina Culatti, head of Facebook’s Creative Shop Northern Europe, was keen to stress the need to look at mobile as an opportunity rather than a constraint. Experimenting with traditional cinematic language, playing with space, perspective and frames, offers plenty of creative scope in this new age of vertical filmmaking, she said. There were some notes of caution however – not least when it comes to time. As consumers, we now judge ads in such fleeting fractions of a moment that, as Culatti warned, “we have to fight for every second.”
In a discussion chaired by CR’s Rachael Steven, three D&AD Awards jurors shared their thoughts on this year’s awards entries and the state of mobile creativity, highlighting some of their favourite campaigns from 2018.
Carmela Soares, Executive Creative Director at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and a Digital Marketing jury member, was impressed with Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign, its effectiveness across different mediums and the way it moved on from the now rather tired concept of using a known personality to simply endorse a product: “One of the things that we didn’t see so much of on juries in the past is the actual use of influencers so prominently. This is an influencer campaign at the core, it’s just choosing the right influencer, making them part of the distribution of the idea,” she said.
Expanding on Soares’s point about Nike, Adam Kerj, Regional Chief Creative Officer, Nordics at Accenture Interactive, another Digital Marketing jury member, was enthused by the idea that mobile technology is empowering both brands and consumers alike to take part in an idea, or a conversation, whether that’s about a product or a wider social issue.
For all that, it didn’t feel like there was much in the way of mobile innovation on show for Jose Cabaco, Global Concepts and Storytelling Creative Director at Adidas, who was a member of this year’s Branded Content jury.
“When you think about branded content being the one category that allows you to break the format and create new narratives, I’m surprised that I didn’t see that happening,” Cabaco said he would have liked to see more work like Coco Capitán’s collaboration with Gucci – one of many collaborations between the fashion brand and artists who have used Instagram as a creative platform – and Eva.Stories, which told the story of a teenage Holocaust victim through a series of Instagram posts and Stories.
“I didn’t see anything in branded content that was mobile-specific, that was playing with framing or a multitude of things that are unique to mobility, in the way we craft stories,” says Cabaco, highlighting a missed opportunity for brands.
Kerj was rather more upbeat about the work he’d been seeing, but he was also conscious of the challenges faced when it comes to mastering each platform, and knowing the context of where you’re presenting your idea, whether that’s on Instagram or Fortnite or Netflix. “Thank God that creativity is formula-resistant. It’s refreshing to see that we’re switching away from a formulaic way of story-telling. There are just so many ways that you can bring one concept to life. You really have to capture the audience and find a way to immerse them in an idea; it seems that the attention economy has peaked,” he said.
Breaking out of that comfort zone, liberating yourself from what Soares called the “muscle memory” of traditional framing and single-platform ideas, is key to grasping how you can reorganise information and catch attention. Brands and agencies now have to come at a story from so many different angles and allow themselves time to truly control the narrative. But time, of course, is the most precious commodity of all.
The really good brands understand that consumers’ expectations change almost by the month now
This is where Cabaco has seen the biggest industry shift, with brands trading off the big budgets of years past in exchange for more frequent engagement with consumers, to get to them quicker and with more focus. How that could have a knock-on effect when it comes to the identities of some of the higher-profile agencies remains unknown, for now: “The thing is, mobile first and, probably beyond that, mobile only, gets in the way of production values. And that’s always been a big chunk of what you are as an agency,” he said.
Kerj expanded on this idea of opening up new channels and tailoring an idea and experience for a targeted audience: “I think there’s a shift now where successful brands understand that they have to be loyal to me [the consumer]. A brand has to push something that’s meaningful and valuable, entertaining or fun. The really good brands understand that consumers’ expectations change almost by the month now.”
Clearly these are exciting, transitional times. The format of the narrative may have evolved, but one vital constant remains. As Soares pointed out, “a great story is everything. And the way we experience an idea is as important as the idea itself. That’s part of the creative process and it’s the exciting bit.”
Lead image (top, from l-r): CR’s Rachael Steven, Jose Cabaco, Carmela Soares and Adam Kerj in conversation