Opportunities Abound in 2024 to Push the Marketing Envelope


It’s been a year of economic uncertainty to say the least. An imminent then not-so-imminent recession. Layoffs. Return to office, if you dare—we have a DJ! (No child care though.)

In times like these, we can only be certain of one thing: Everyone is going to do the same damn ads and activations. Those tried-and-true methods that could quite possibly bore a small child to death. 

We know why it happens. When budgets are cut, there’s pressure to go with the proven solution, the celebrity spokesperson, the cute animal, the Coachella-inspired ferris wheel. These days, we don’t have the maximalist Mad Men-era budgets with millions to spend trying something new.

So how can we bypass the industry’s copycat syndrome? Walk with me.

Show me the money

Agencies have a responsibility to push and advocate for their big ideas and work. Your team did not spend the weekend polishing a proposal for a 90-foot Godzilla statue (or whatever) for you to then accept defeat at the first Google Doc comment.

Constraints can help drive creativity. If you stay in the budget, answer the remit and solve for the goals, generally that opens other doors. When you hit a sweet spot in your constraints, sometimes budget magically appears. Double down on your work, but show what you can do, and what you could do, within reason.

“Innovation” itself has become somewhat of a buzzword, but the point is, you won’t get anywhere if you’re focused on social media comments and shares. You have to have a bespoke strategy for each client, budget and opportunity, and you have to ask yourself, “Is this going to just satisfy the brief, or is it going to move the needle?”

Beware of saturation

Both The New York Times and The New Yorker have declared the death of The Internet. But these stories are really about bland brand marketing: The Times discusses how sardonic brand humor is no longer resonating with Gen Z and millennials, and The New Yorker blamed lackluster social media algorithms that highlight ads and months-old posts.

It’s become a trope: “We want to go viral!” shouted the toilet paper brand, fast food chain and sponge company. With shrinking marketing budgets and a growing disconnect between CEOs and CMOs, there is a lot of pressure on marketers to move quickly, jump on trends for 15 seconds of internet fame or, at worst, use AI to generate a slew of low-quality content just to get something out into the world. When one brand does it, it’s weird; when two do it, it’s a trend, and then everyone tries to get in on it.

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