Predictions for a new decade: Ben Kay

To mark the start of the 2020s, we’ve asked a selection of our regular writers and columnists to offer up some predictions of what lies ahead for the creative industries. Here, our advertising correspondent Ben Kay hopes for a creative renaissance in marketing

I was listening to an American music podcast recently. It suggested that in terms of stylistic change, half decades were more significant than the years ending in zero. For example, rock dominated from around ’85 to ’95, first in the form of ‘hair rock’ bands like Whitesnake and Guns n’ Roses, and then the more credible Grunge of the early 1990s. A decade of RnB and hip-hop followed from 1995-2005, then a decade of female pop took us up to 2015. We are now halfway through the decade of male pop (Sheeran, Bieber, Bruno Mars etc).

I have a theory that advertising epochs happen roughly from the sevens to the sevens. 1997 was when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, and his ubiquitous Mac began to alter so much in terms of creative speed and the addition of digital tools such as Photoshop. The big conceptual brand ads of that era ended in 2007 with Cadbury’s Gorilla, and were followed by the touchy-feely world of emotional John Lewis tear-jerkers, and the rise of digital.

To examine what happened in 2017 I think we need to start with the seismic events of 2016, when the unexpected deaths of Prince, Bowie and George Michael put the excremental icing on a cake of global political horror, at least as far as the ad-producing metropolitan areas were concerned.