Consumers co-creating with brands looks set to increase, facilitated by technology and fuelled by their apparent desire to be involved. Alongside this, the trend for brands to be compassionate continues and we’re seeing the once humble picture, threatening to take centre-stage at the expense of carefully crafted copy. Big brands, in their plight to get up close and personal, are pretending to be smaller, more local, grass-root types. Pretence doesn’t stop there, we’ve noticed young brands acting old—exploiting generation Y’s sense of 90s nostalgia.

It’s all change out there…

1. Picture Powerhouse

We are in the age of Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr. More than 1.8 million images are uploaded digitally each day. It’s not surprising then, that we are seeing imagery take centre-stage in ad campaigns. Brands are tapping into this phenomenon, Apple’s “Shot on an iPhone 6” is a prime example.

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2. Crowdsourced imagery

Brands are taking advantage of consumers’ love of image capturing and sharing, to crowd-source their campaigns. Notable recent examples have been the Instagram modelling agency in which the search for the star of the next Marc by Marc Jacobs campaign was conducted by Twitter and Instagram. With over 70,000 submissions #castmemarc definitely paid off. Also the Toyoyta #FeelingTheStreet TV campaign which has been shot in New Zealand over the summer, is creating a 6-piece band, made up of buskers from around the world. Candidates uploaded footage of themselves performing and the public voted by tossing a virtual coin into their favourites virtual hat.

3. Big Brands Acting Small

It wasn’t too long ago that small businesses were trying to appear larger to gain customer trust. Ironically, in the recent age of the artisan, companies are trying to look small to appear authentic, gain trust and better connect with their customers. Take the snack giant Walkers, earlier this year they launched their ‘Market Deli’ selection of snacks, which claim to be inspired by authentic, local produce found in delicatessens across Europe and the UK. Such flavours include salt from Anglesey and Cheddar from Cornwall. Heinz have also jumped on board with their socially-led ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign. This 360 campaign focused on the humble roots of their tomatoes and encouraged customers to grow their own with seeds that could be won free from Heinz’s own Grow Your Own app.

4. Brand Therapy

We’ve all heard of retail therapy, but we’ve noticed a trend of brands acting as therapy. Brands are beginning to employ a self-development message, offering consumers the chance to become their better self. Reebok’s global ‘Be More Human’ campaign is demonstrative of this, their campaign celebrates ordinary folk who use fitness in their search for personal fulfilment. The televised advert informs the consumer they too could be, ‘better leaders, better parents…capable of anything.’

5. Generation Y’s Nostalgia

Forget the iconic decades of the 60s and 70s, 90s nostalgia has popped up in the current zeitgeist and brands have been quick to exploit this in the quest to big-up their own history. It might seem like the 90s were just around the corner, but generation Y seem all-too-happy to remember their bum bags and bowl-haircuts like they materialised more than just five minutes ago. Internet Explorer’s ‘Child of the Nineties’ depicts this perfectly, Yoyo’s Polaroids and all.