Opportunities for brands and agencies in 2023 

As global crises pile up like dirty dishes in a student flat, Contagious managing partner Alex Jenkins offers some optimism for the year ahead.

By all accounts, 2023 is shaping up to be a stinker. Bloomberg says there’s a 100% chance of the US being in recession, the UK is already in recession, and speaking bluntly to Euronews, MD of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, stated: ‘I am not going to sugar-coat it: 2023 will be tougher than 2022’ – predicting that half of the Eurozone countries will be in recession next year.

This is against a backdrop of such constant change and unprecedented events that the Collins Dictionary word of the year is Permacrisis – ‘an extended period of instability and insecurity’. But even against a backdrop of financial bleakness and general insecurity, I think there’s some opportunities brands and marketers can take advantage of next year.

Opportunity #1 – Lead 

If people feel like they are permanently in a state of insecurity, one of the best things you can do is provide clear, direct, reliable leadership.

This year we saw the impact that different leadership styles can have – whether it was UK Prime Minister Liz Truss tanking the pound during her brief time in office, CEO of the FTX currency exchange, Sam Bankman-Fried, sending his company’s value from $39bn to $0 in just 36 hours, or Elon Musk unleashing a chaos bomb at Twitter. Against a backdrop of instability, these people created more instability.

By comparison, Yvon Chouinard showed what it means to be a leader when, in September, the Patagonia founder pledged that all the company’s future profits would be donated to fight the climate crisis, declaring that ‘Earth is now our only shareholder’. Unlike the chaos creators, he used his leadership to create stability and to be an example for others to follow and rally around.

It’s worth remembering that there will be people getting their first job with your company next year that were just seven years old during the 2008 financial crisis. You might have lived through a few recessions and seen this all before, but they haven’t. And they’re experiencing it in a world where a war in Ukraine has sent their utility bills through the roof and a crypto crash has wiped all the value off their Dogecoin.

Clear direction, stability, a sense that someone above them has their back and is competently steering the ship will be invaluable.

Opportunity #2 – Don’t be a dick 

2023 saw big, international brands getting their ads banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority and being called out by the Changing Markets Foundation for greenwashing. We get it – sustainability is a big issue. You want to make a difference and you want to be seen to be making a difference, but you’ll look like a dick if you get caught making unfounded claims about your green credentials...

Read the rest of this article by downloading the 2022 Most Contagious Report for free 

The Most Contagious Report is packed with insights and analysis, including:

  • In-depth strategy interviews with some of the brands and agencies behind the most innovative campaigns of the year
  • Advice on marketing amid a recession
  • The Contagious view on the trends that will shape the ad industry in the year ahead
  • The Economist’s deputy editor on the big macro-economic trends to watch out for in 2023
  • Summaries of academic research from 2022 that explain how advertising works and consumers behave
  • Much more...

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