Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Once Upon a Future

Asrar Alam imagines the future of advertising 20 years from now.
Published 19 Jan, 2024 02:22pm

Imagine yourself on a serene Sunday morning in the year 2043. You gently awaken in your self-adjusting Ikea bed, a marvel of modern comfort, as it discreetly relays your vitals – from blood pressure to heart rate and even your current mood. A subtle blink activates your Google Lens, projecting an augmented reality display on your field of vision. Several notifications appear suggesting the healthiest breakfast options available on Foodpanda, all tailored to your current well-being. It even playfully advises against that tempting, cheesy omelette, all the while monitoring your vitals. Without leaving the comfort of your bed, breakfast is on its way. Simultaneously, a quick glance provides you with the day’s weather conditions, and your smart home adjusts the ambience to match your mood.

It may seem like a scene from a modern adaptation of Back to the Future but the future is a realm filled with unexpected surprises and delightful peculiarities. So, let’s embark on a few enjoyable speculations about the future, particularly if you are already in the industry and aware of the advancements we are experiencing and expecting.

In the not-so-distant future, we bid adieu to fossil fuels as the giants of the petroleum and lubricant industries bow out and become history or find new formats to serve. This shift in our energy sources carries extensive implications for the world of marketing and advertising.

The car commercials that once celebrated roaring engines and swirling exhaust fumes now praise the silent might of electric motors and pollution-free journeys. Electronic billboards proudly display the number of clean miles covered within the city and hydrogen car manufacturers flaunt how great their cars are for the environment (and guilt-free too), making an eco-conscious commute possible for everyone – from luxury to basic vehicles. This transition is not only about changing products, it marks a fundamental shift in marketing values – sustainability and environmental consciousness are not fleeting trends; they are the new bedrock of marketing principles.

Today, creative minds grapple with the quest for higher-order benefits, seeking a noble cause for brands to champion, something that goes beyond the mere sale of products and services. However, in the future, the imperative to protect the environment will not only be fashionable – it will be a necessity. Many recent changes have pushed us toward the inevitability of embracing environmental sustainability. We have bid farewell to plastic waste in packaging, a choice that benefits not only the environment but the bottom line as well and several industries have emerged, filling our shelves with biodegradable marvels, making eco-friendly living not just responsible but also trendy.

At the heart of this transformation lies a consumer base that is better informed and more socially responsible than ever before, yet paradoxically exposed to a level where they themselves become the advertisement. They say that if something is free, you are the product. In 2043, the modern face of social media has become the agora where brands and customers engage in creative and effective ways. Thanks to AI and data analytics, our needs are predicted before we even become aware of them, resulting in highly personalised interactions. Advertisements are crafted to address individuals by name, catering to their immediate needs, and at times, immersing them in augmented reality to provide the right consumer experience before they can even make a decision to buy a product. In this future, the tone of brands speaking to their consumers (known as copywriting before) is grounded in authenticity and directness, resonating with a full spectrum of human emotions. Narratives are written and voiced in commercials using AI and are sometimes artificially generated as well. Authenticity, however, has become the new currency for brands. Many ad campaigns are envisioned by specialised AI with algorithms tailored to the industry’s needs, while Professional MS Suites, Adobe Suites, and other branded conventional tools are now mostly wielded by industry veterans.

As the line between reality and the digital realm blurs, the consumer experience takes centre stage. The pinnacle of this idea comes in the form of META, where one no longer needs to physically be present somewhere to actually be there. One cannot help but wonder what life will really be like 20 years down the lane, and how advertising will transform with time. Will advertising no longer be viewed as intrusive, but rather as an art form that seamlessly integrates with our daily lives?

What about us, the creative minds navigating this brave new world? Well, we are not going anywhere. If anything, our roles are even more crucial. In 2043, the intersection of tech and creativity has unlocked unparalleled possibilities. We are not just crafting ads; we are shaping experiences that haven’t been explored by the human race before. We are social architects, constructing narratives that resonate with the public’s values and aspirations. In this brave new world, advertising agencies have morphed into think tanks, with fewer headcounts but an even higher critical emphasis on talent. In this era, every individual’s contribution counts. Every person from every department must possess horizontal thinking rather than a vertical focus. They are the orchestrators, seamlessly blending human expertise with machine learning tools to maximise results.

While branded communications aim to be innovative and engaging, the exploitation of religious sentiments for commercial purposes remains a concern. Twenty years from now, modern banking will have transformed into a completely Islamic banking system – and the practice of using religion as an emotional tool in advertising, especially by brands that do not have anything to do with religion, will not only be ethically questionable, it will also risk alienating and offending certain consumer segments. In a country where diversity is celebrated, it is essential to create an inclusive advertising environment that respects the feelings of minorities and avoids exploiting religious emotions to sell products. Striking a balance between cultural respect and effective marketing is a challenge that future advertisers must navigate with care and responsibility.

Today, while sipping a cup of karak chai, my imagination cannot help but run wild about the uncharted territory that lies ahead. To some, this read may seem far-fetched, but it’s not unfounded. We must have faith in change and the positivity it brings. We are the ones propelling the human race forward and just like Apple’s 1984 ‘Think Different’ campaign encouraged us to be the crazy ones – the round pegs in the square holes. If we are crazy enough, we can truly shape a remarkable future.

Asrar Alam is Group Creative Director, Spectrum VMLY&R.