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.


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.


Gap – ‘Dress Normal’ / Wieden + Kennedy


“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.


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.


Social Media Trends for 2015

2015 trends, innit.

Republished [with edits] from Social@Ogilvy.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 15.23.39

Back in December 2013, Managing Director of Social@Ogilvy EAME, Marshall Manson asked me to co-write some kind of trend prediction document for 2014. I think his words at the time were something like ‘Look, everyone does them, and everyone slags them off but Ogilvy should have one and I think we could put something decent together’.

We laughed. We agreed. And then we got to work.Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 22.05.11

A few emails back and forth and a couple of working meetings inbetween and Marshall and I came up with a fairly decent document covering off our shared trend predictions for the year ahead.

Such was the feedback of said presentation, we decided to it again for 2015.


So, at the bottom of this post you’ll find our latest work. It contains a brief overview of our predictions from last year as well as a more in-depth look at the thoughts, trends and predictions for the year ahead. However, if you’re a big cheat and don’t want to read the presentation (seriously, what kind of monster are you?) here are the cliff notes:


Marshall and I scored four for four with, ‘Disposable Content’,Brand Banter’, ‘Facebook as a Paid Media Channel’, and a little thing called ‘Sub-dividing Communities’. Each and every one of them came true and, well, we’re pretty chuffed about that (and the evidence is in the deck below – you didn’t think I was going to give it away that easily, did you?)

Without further ado, let’s move on to our:


Trend 1. Twitter Zero
Algorithmic content serving is coming very soon and, when it hits, and very much like Facebook before it, brands will need to understand not only what paid products are available but also how to use them.

Trend 2. The Video Battle Royale
‘Video’ was one of my ‘things that are not trends for 2015‘ however the BIG BATTLE FOR VIDEO AD DOMINANCE is 100% going to be a thing next year. With Facebook and Twitter both going all in on video-based ad products, we’re also predicting that Instagram’s existing ad products will also soon include video. Did you know Facebook outdid YouTube, on the video front, in 2014? We don’t think Google will let that lie… do you?

Trend 3. Teens & Anonymous Platforms
Less of a trend prediction more a piece of social / anthropological commentary, this section is about there now being a generation of teens who have grown up not knowing a world without an Internet. So what does ‘youth Internet’ look like? And why?

Check it out, you’ll see.

And hey, tell us what you think on Twitter (@whatleydude or @marshallmanson) – we’d love to get your feedback!


2015 Digital Trends (not)

You keep using that word but I do not think it means what you think it means.

Or – ‘Lessons on how to avoid being crap’


At the end of last year I was tasked with putting together some ideas for the Ogilvy 2015 social media / digital trend document. To prevent said document falling into the same trap as every other prediction paper out there, I decided to publish a top 20 list of things that are NOT trends for 2015.

When people asked why, I half-jokingly reply ‘To f*** myself’.

Seriously though, what better way to push yourself out of mediocrity than by publicly declaring what you think the non-trends are? Well, I did – and it helped.

Said list should be embedded below and the trends we put to paper thereafter will be in the post straight after this one.

2013 Social Media Predictions

Some trend analysis for your oculars…

Earlier this year I was tasked with doing some analysis that ended up not being used, so I’m printing them here. They’re not really Social Media predictions per se, more consumer/industry/technology focused trends.

Either way, have a read and let me know what you think in the comments –

— 2012/13 Technology Trends & Predictions —

The outsourcing of community management to emerging markets

The online/social-media-based customer care business is booming. Social network CMS platforms, such as Buddy Media, are being bought and sold quickly to larger and larger businesses and, as a result, more investment is going into building highly-powered software to monitor and measure the social media interface between brand and consumer. This is not news.

However, what is news is that brands will soon realise exactly how much they are spending in this area. First on their agencies, handling it for them. Then internally, when they start training up their existing customer care staff. Which, in turn, points to a time when brands (large and small) will soon outsource their social media customer care to indian / emerging market (read: cheap) ‘call’ centres. Easily equipped with 140 character long scripts, this new group will gladly speak in the authentic voice of the brand for a mere fraction of the price of the existing agency/care dept.

This will happen.


2screening + Advertising

This is an immediate + obvious choice. The growth of this particular area, as consumers become more and more accustomed to seeing hashtags on their TV screens (related to the content they’re viewing), means that advertising will soon follow suit.

Super targeting is one thing, but soon smart media-planners will force Twitter to allow time-sensitive promoted tweets, with time-focused twitter ads designed to populate at specific times – down to the very minute. Whereas the traditional consumer used to put the kettle on, today’s viewers are now turning to Twitter (and away from the ads), the industry won’t put up with this for long.

This trend will travel.

Hashtags will appear in store, and on shelves. A walk through a furniture store, for example, will soon see shop owners proudly display the amount of likes (or Pinterest shares) each sofa has gained over the past week – encouraging sales and driving further online/offline integration.

Finally, as we’ve seen with Xbox SmartGlass and Wii-U, 2screening will cross over into the gaming world. Unifying the under-the-TV box into one, core multimedia system. Zombie-U, from Ubisoft, has sections in the game where the player must ‘view’ the TV content through their second screen, highlighting previously unseen areas and bonuses.

Speaking of bonuses, this gaming innovation also will also make way for a hidden benefit: broader consumer acceptance of augmented reality.


4G networks spurring further innovation

The USA has had its version of 4G for a little under a year, while the UK has even yet to discuss licensing. Like the future, 4G is already here, it is just not evenly distributed. As mobile growth continues at an exponential rate across the globe, mobile networks will look to ‘leap frog’ in strong 2G markets where the jump to 4G will not only be immensely attractive to consumers but will also come with tax deductions from the local governments.

Again, we see emerging markets being a core area here, especially Russia, and Africa, where the large expanses mean that a single 4G tower can provide high speed downloads for the many who live nearby. Coverage isn’t an issue when each connected device can itself turn into a 10MB internet hotspot.

The end result being that previously unconnected nodes suddenly gain access to the worldwide web, allowing all kinds of new connections and data points to become accessible. Questions such as ‘What is the price of meat in the next village?’ or ‘What are the whereabouts of our town’s first aid packages?’ and ‘How’s uncle?’ will be answered quickly, confidently and, in some cases, visually – with video calling.


Bonus round: [App] Eco-systems within [app] eco-systems

Foursquare apps within apps. Spotify apps within apps. Facebook apps within apps.

Eco-systems are IN and they’re only going to evolve. Internet fridges are a joke, but linked up technology, software and – dare I say it – the Internet of Things really aren’t that far away.


Your thoughts are welcome –

The Internet is Mental

This week, my friend Joey shared this photo on Facebook –

(1 share, 3 likes, 14 comments)

He had seen it on a Facebook page called Handpicked London  –

(2263 shares, 3025 likes, 185 comments)

Handpicked London link their image back to the source – aka – this tweet:

(826 RTs, 62 favourites, 284 replies)

Amazing how images travel, right?

The really funny thing is, the image above is nothing to do with the Olympics at all. In fact, it was taken about three and a half years ago, back in the early part of December, 2008.

How do I know?

Because I was there when I took it.

Peak Hours may mean lap sitting

(2989 views, 8 favourites, 6 comments)

It was lunchtime and I was on my way into central London to meet some bloggers I was hosting for The SpinVox Wishing Well, which had just opened in Covent Garden.

One of the bloggers in attendance was one Annie Mole – aka the editor of ‘Going Underground‘, London’s best London Underground blog. So, when I spotted this stuck on the inside of a Piccadilly Line carriage, I immediately snapped it so I could share it with Annie when I saw her.

The best thing was, after I took the original photo, the couple sat behind me tapped me on the shoulder and offered me their laps to sit on (to much laughter from our fellow passengers), it was a lovely moment.

Naturally, Annie Mole blogged it, and that’s about it…

Imagine my surprise when the image started trending nearly four years later.