First up was Gill Ringland from scenario planners SAMI Consulting, a real heavyweight, who spoke about future proofing your business. She spoke about some really serious trends that put the fluffy consumer stuff I'd been doing into perspective. According to Gill, the five biggest challenges for business are continued globalisation, people becoming more mobile, climate change, depletion of raw materials and technology (bio, nano, info and cogno). A couple of highlights:
- By 2025 the BRIC nations GDP will be half of the G6; expect to see the demands of BRICs become more insistent with their demands
- A growing population means a reordering of the world. We'll have just four areas: the Americas, EMEA, Asia and Africa, each with similar populations and GDPs
- The world is moving towards urbanisation, women in cities have less kids, so the population may top out at about 9bn (still a big number)
- In the UK, 60-79 year olds are key to the future of the NHS. If they require the same amount of NHS resources as the over 80s, well the health service will look a little unhealthy. There is a big challenge for the policy makers to make this group act more like the groups below them
Gill's ideas on future proofing your business:
- Be open and collaborate
- Don't work in a monoculture, having a varied workforce means stress and better solutions
- Look externally for signs of change and react!
Next up was yours truly with Sarah, a strategist from Naked and a good friend. We spoke about how to use trends from an agency perspective. I was a little red-faced and drunk, and Sarah made lots of good points. If you want to see the presentation you can here, but I don't think it makes much sense without babbling.
In the tricky third spot was Jamie C (but Sarah and I are glad we didn't have to follow her!) who spoke about global digital trends with the aid of some pretty cool dolls. I think Jamie will be putting her presentation up soon, so will link to it, but some of the highlights:
- Some great images from Japan of train station mosaic murals created out of QR codes
- Nokia Sports tracker which allows people to find each other on the ski slopes using GPS
- The Amazonian Conservation Trust enabling local tribes to document the rainforest using GPS mapping and camera phones
- And some inspiring stories about how mobile technology is being used in Africa. Real tear-jerking stuff
Last but definitely not least, was Rebecca Swift, who holds the grand title of director of creative planning at Getty. She mapped out how consumers have become more sophisticated in their consumption of images and noted how important the visual element of brand values are.
Rebecca has the difficult task of anticipating new visual trends as the old ones go through a cycle of being commoditised, becoming clichéd and then losing their relevance. She showed, with some brilliant examples, how lots of industries use the same iconography, for example yoga has been used to sell everything from car batteries to beer. But it is because of this that we understand implicit visual messages (i.e. yoga-esque=calm), compared to somewhere like China, a country with a very different visual heritage. A couple of other interesting points:
- In our sudden burst of conscience about the environment, we are unsurprisingly seeing a surge in the colour green in our comms. This makes it very difficult to differentiate between brands.
- Maybe the impending credit crunch will impact on the green movement; will we care so much about the environment when we can't pay our rent?
- Why don't we use humour in our green ads? It wouldn't make us less sincere
- There is a trend for creatures from the deep at the moment, i.e. animals not usually seen in commercial photos such as seahorses and octopi
I believe videos of all these presentations are going to go online soon, so watch the SheSays site. Thanks to all the wonderful ladies who organise this really inspiring event and I hope it goes from strength to strength. Another mammoth post, sorry guys.