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Data tech, personalisation, great storytelling and purpose-led direction will lead marcom in 2019: Neil George

Speaking at Retrospect & Prospects 2019, George shares trends that prevailed in 2018. Predicting new trends, he foresees a battle between Netflix and Discovery and Amazon versus Google

Neil George at IAA

Marketing communication is increasingly creative, distributive, consumed and shared at a higher scale especially through non-TV platforms. Marcom often gets embedded within TV shows, live music gigs, video games, music videos and traditional communication platforms like TV commercial and PR campaigns. The marcom industry overall witnesses a lot of highs and lows.

Neil George, Managing Director for Nivea India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan shared what all those highs and lows were in 2018. Crystal gazing the upcoming trends of 2019, George shared what to expect in the year ahead. He was speaking at IAA’s flagship programme Retrospect and Prospects 2019.

Referring to 2018 as the ‘blank canvas’, George shared a few data points, stats and videos from Billboard magazine, YouTube, Statista and IMDb, to tell how creative folks worked their magic on the canvas of 2018.

He said five trends had overruled 2018 around seven themes of hope, trust, real stories, celebrities, male superheroes, creative twist, great production values and machines.

*Fake news, realistic looking fake videos and audio gained popularity using deep learning artificial intelligence algorithms. Apart from this, rendering not just facial features, but changing weather patterns and making flowers bloom.

*2018 was also the beginning of the inflection point for voice search, mostly driven by new devices, mostly coming from companies like Amazon. They were selling tonnes of millions of voice search devices.

*Instagram and Netflix gained a critical mass on the distribution or the platform side of the media game, and consumers were hooked on these platforms, like bees to a pot of honey. By 2018, Instagram added over a billion users and Netflix had more than 100 subscribers, not just in the US, but all over the world.

*2018 witnessed a world where pessimists matched optimists, where a large number of emerging markets like India and China were extremely optimistic and more developed countries were much more pessimistic.  A huge group of optimistic millennials countered by a lingering pessimism among the Gen Xers and the baby boomers.

*A boom of female stars like Wonderwomen and Ariana Grande along with a rise of Superheroes versus the real movie heroes.

George explained how brands through their communications tried to draw a steamroller on the dark part of lost hope through their campaigns, winning back their trust. Quoting the example of Taco Bell’s campaign when it had launched fries in USA, he said creativity was taken to new heights. 

He predicted the following trends for the coming months and years.

*Purpose-led direction: Brands that stand for specific purposes and values and engage to fight with the target audiences are poised to take off. But other brands without real purpose will fade into oblivion.

Rapid increase in the use of data and technology in finding targeted marketing campaigns: The big shift will come due to Amazon's dominance in the voice search. Between 2015 and 2018, Amazon dominated Google in product search, and that lead is going to widen, he said.

*Mass personalisation: Brands would provide wonderful personalised solutions to consumers.

*Great storytelling: It will emerge to be stronger than ever.

*Sinless consumption: George said more and more brands would come up with substitutes for plastic, meat and alcohol. There would be more plastic-free plastic, meatless meat and non-alcoholic beer.

He said the upcoming months will also witness two big battles between Netflix v/s Discovery for their own respective OTT platforms and Amazon v/s Google.

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