Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

How Well Is Your Creativity Trending This Year?

The Strategist looks at Dentsu’s 2024 Creative Trends Report and extrapolates how Pakistani brands can leverage these trends when speaking to their audiences.
Published 09 May, 2024 12:26pm

Creativity in advertising is a powerful force – one that is driven by culture and which also serves to drive our culture. As brands infuse creativity into advertising, their goal is to forge emotional connections with audiences through compelling narratives and actions. Yet, as consumer preferences evolve, brands must adapt to emerging trends to stay pertinent. One way Pakistani brands have kept up with some of our evergreen trends is by leveraging the Pakistani fascination with weddings – and it is now common to witness celebrations and festive themes in many advertisements.

This is why it is imperative to revisit our advertising strategies to gauge the level of ‘trendiness’ we are integrating and whether those trends are still applicable, or whether we need to focus more on current trends. In recent years, we have seen ads incorporating rap, pop music, and rebellious themes to mirror the cultural influence of Gen Z, especially in the Pakistani market.

A recent report published by Dentsu Creative delves into the creative trends that shape culture as it evolves, and how brands can leverage these trends to speak to their audiences in a way that appeals to their inner desires. Each of the trends – along with its sub-trends – outlined in the report unlocks meaningful routes for creative advertising, to engage with consumers, build a better world, and take control in defiance of the cynicism and despair that dominate today’s advertising industry.

Finding and Creating Joy
In a world where joy is often elusive, its significance becomes paramount. Happiness, gentleness and playfulness have emerged as potent antidotes to the chaos and busyness of modern life. Examples from Pakistani culture illustrate this trend – iconic brands like Sooper and Tapal Tea evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia, while ads featuring local celebrities such as Mahira Khan in the now famous MoltyFoam ads emphasise the importance of finding joy in everyday moments.

Similarly, fun places like Jumbo Jump and Winterland show how people love to escape and have fun, with adults in Pakistan increasingly making their way towards these retreats. Barbie was super popular in 2023 because it spread happy vibes and local audiences jumped on the bandwagon by having conversations about the film online. In fashion, vibrant colours and playful designs reflect a desire to uplift spirits – evident in the large number of mushroom brands sprouting with unique designs.

The popularity of skincare rituals among Gen Z underscores the importance of self-care as a means of relaxation while speaking to their inner desires of ‘glowing from within’, such as the recent Glow & Lovely ads playing on our TV screens.

Recognising the power of joy, brands are increasingly incorporating humour and whimsy into their messaging, celebrating the small pleasures of life and fostering a sense of optimism amidst adversity. That’s why ads like ‘Teri Mehrbani’ or ‘Dimag Ke Keeray ke Ilawa Har Keeray ko Maaray’ are still top-of-mind for Pakistani audiences, regardless of whether they are consumers of Ufone or Kingtox.

Building a Better Reality
In today’s world, previously underestimated genres are experiencing a resurgence, evolving as influential mediums for change. Our advertising reflects this shift too, with brands increasingly leveraging humour, music and relatable storytelling to address pressing social issues while entertaining audiences.

As the creator economy flourishes and brands embrace entertainment, innovative content formats are driving business growth and societal transformation. For example, Habib Metro launched its most recent remittance campaign by telling the story of an expat and having a song specifically developed for this purpose – a music video as opposed to a traditional TV commercial which quickly gained popularity on online platforms. Thus, storytelling emerges as a catalyst for social awareness. Platforms like TikTok are also leading the charge in content innovation, offering diverse voices to inform, challenge, and inspire audiences across various topics in their own unique and sometimes outlandish ways.

Finding Greatness at Home
Amidst the chaos of today’s world and the increasing cost of living, there is a growing appreciation for home-grown experiences. As the excitement of post-pandemic travel wanes, there is renewed interest in exploring nearby communities and places. This is evident from the trending videos on YouTube’s homepage in Pakistan, where travelogues have taken centre stage. This shift is not about shutting out other cultures; rather, it is a quest for genuine human stories that resonate in our hearts, recognising the power of humanity’s shared experiences.

In our local advertising scene, we are witnessing a shift away from generic insights towards authentic human connections. Brands like Shan Foods celebrate the authentic flavours of Pakistani cuisine, bringing people together over traditional dishes that evoke a sense of home and belonging. Consumers today seek both adventure and familiarity, craving experiences that ignite their curiosity while providing a sense of comfort. More Pakistani brands have the opportunity to tap into this desire by crafting hyper-local messaging that resonates with Pakistan’s unique cultural ingenuity. Whether it is the vibrant bazaars of Lahore or the serene beaches of Karachi (Coca-Cola), there is endless potential to celebrate the richness of our local communities and landscapes. Even big international brands can gain from incorporating local cultures and customs into their global audience engagement strategies. For instance, KFC in China blends its brand’s heritage imagery with elements borrowed from traditional Chinese iconography.

AI-imagining a Connected Future
In 2023, audiences embraced Generative AI with curiosity. From prompting ChatGPT to draft copy to directing Midjourney to ideate town plans, there was a sense of wonder about the technology’s potential. As AI advances, brands are pondering ways in which its integration can improve their product offering, while engaging audiences in innovative ways. Many Pakistani brands have adopted AI in their operations and marketing. Daraz uses AI algorithms to personalise product recommendations for users based on their browsing and purchase history. This enhances the shopping experience and increases the likelihood of conversions. There is also an opportunity to amplify the e-commerce arena, creating more ‘shoppable’ experiences through the integration of ‘Shopify’ features. Pakistani brands have even started entering the metaverse. Allied Bank’s metaverse branch offers an opportunity for new-age audiences to roam the branch and learn more about the brand. Integration of AI offers an opportunity to make such experiences more immersive.

Embracing Collective Individualism
Audiences are embracing their individualism while maintaining a sense of belonging through active participation in their communities. An interesting trend within the Pakistani automotive landscape illustrates this trend. While enthusiasts are keen on customising their vehicles, at the same time there are fan pages and groups on social media for owners of the same model of vehicles to connect and share their experiences with each other and become part of a bigger community. At the same time, virtual personas offer new possibilities for self-expression and engagement to audiences. This is why we see the concept of ‘avatars’ making its way back to our platforms.

Whether seeking wisdom or connections, people crave belonging and social bonds. This is an opportunity for brands to create collective experiences that celebrate the individual identities of their customers by showcasing strong empathy. Suzuki’s ‘My Suzuki My Story’ was a campaign that brought audiences together on a shared platform while also encouraging them to celebrate their own connections with their cars. Yamaha also created a ‘Riders Club’ in Pakistan, where Yamaha motorcycle owners could connect with like-minded individuals. The question is, how can brands empower consumers to manage their digital identity for innovative business models?

In Pakistan, where culture has immense significance, creativity in advertising serves as a catalyst for cultural evolution. Brands should aim to establish emotional connections with audiences by weaving compelling narratives rooted in our rich traditions and values. Not only to resonate with consumers but to shape our cultural narratives.

‘The Strategist’ is a passionate advertising professional working in Karachi for over a decade across various agency networks where he consults for brand strategy and planning.