Trend Churn

When is a trend not a trend?

Recently I shared with you the official Ogilvy social media trend report that I co-wrote with a lovely chap named Marshall Manson.

Throughout the process, Marshall and I played around with what we each thought our trends were for the year, stress-testing the notions, cross-examining the evidence (and each other) and as a result, some awesome stuff made it in.

Sidenote: co-writing is fun. If you write, try and write with someone some time. It can be both challenging and rewarding and if you’re lucky, like me, you’ll strike gold with someone super smart to do it with.

There were other trends and ideas too mind: ones that we didn’t have the time to investigate properly, ones that we just couldn’t find enough (read: any) evidence to support, ones that we had put some thought into but hadn’t completely finished noodling on them yet, and ones for which we had a catchy title but no real substance (basically 90% of the trend dross out there today).

Normally we’d cut those but this time however we decided to keep some of those unfinished trends in the final document and, under the heading ‘Random stuff we haven’t figured out yet’,  they can be found from slide 40 onwards in said presentation.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, the one that came closest to making it was a little thing that I’d been ruminating on called Trend Churn.

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Trend Churn?

The idea of Trend Churn was predominantly borne out of the micro trend known as ‘NORMCORE‘ making the leap from weird-ass white papers to actual ATL advertising and then arguably failing.

Miserably.

Gap – ‘Dress Normal’ / Wieden + Kennedy

dressnormal

“Sales at the Gap continued to drop in November, as its roundly-criticized “Dress Normal” fall campaign failed to drum up interest from consumers.

Gap’s comparable sales for November were down 4% versus a 2% increase last year. Sales were down 7% year-on-year in October and declined 3% in September. Gap’s other brands, Old Navy and Banana Republic, saw sales increase this last month — so this is a Gap-specific problem.” – Business Insider, December 2014

The word itself, ‘Normcore’, first came to my attention in a K-Hole trend report entitled ‘Youth Mode

The Youth Mode report introduces the problem of Mass Indie culture—“where everyone is so special that no one is special”—and proposes a new aspirational model in #Normcore, “a way of being that prioritizes self-identification over self-differentiation.” Normcore is like the smiley face emoticon, which K-HOLE uses so affectively: inclusive, basic, and human; an invitation to engage.

Makes perfect sense right? Right.

Turns out the whole thing was a non-starter. A non-trender, if you will.

And that is a trend itself.

The whole schtick I was pitching at Marshall was the idea that when the bright young trendy creatives are sucking up all the sexiest trend reports all at the same time, constantly under pressure to deliver The Next Big Thing, then surely at some point or another the Emperor’s latest threads will wind up in an ad somewhere.

shadwell

Samsung – ‘Be Your Own Label’ / Cheil Worldwide

“Samsung set to discontinue Galaxy Alpha in favor of cheaper phones. Production of the metal Alpha will reportedly end when the current inventory of materials runs out.” – The Verge, December 2014

The thing is with writing [a decent] trend report is that you really do need a number of proof points that at least go some way to validate your thinking.

Without those, it’s just a hunch report.

With Trend Churn, I didn’t have the data . I knew that Normcore had leaked into adland but I couldn’t find anywhere that actually measured its impact. Not without any meaningful evidence anyway. Everything in this piece so far is pretty circumstantial.

But you can see what I was noodling at.

I’ll leave you with this piece of solid gold, nabbed from an amazing blog post (from an amazing writer – Jenka Gurfinkel) called ‘The Possibly Real Trend of Real Trends

“In the days of slow-moving, 20th century media, emergent cultural expressions had time to incubate below the radar before they tipped into mass awareness. Pre-Tumblr, the only way to find out about a new cultural emergence was through the unassailably real channel of one of its actual practitioners. There was no need to wonder about veracity. Now, a nascent trend doesn’t really have the time to mature into something legitimate before the trendhunting hyenas descend upon it, exposing it to a sudden burst of scrutiny. What remains becomes neither niche enough to be authentic nor mass enough to be indisputable. Maybe no new trend seems quite real because it hasn’t had the chance to become real before we’re looking it up on urban dictionary and just as swiftly are click-baited on to the next dubious dopamine hit of meme culture.”

 

And in that one paragraph, Jenka nailed exactly the point I was getting at.

Watch for this in adland throughout 2015.

There’ll be more.

Much more.

 

..

As if you’ll notice.

 

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