ADVERTISING DIES A SUDDEN DEATH

The new generation does not believe you anymore

Visiting São Paulo in 2007, you would have been gob-smacked – a city free from advertising? Surely this was some kind of joke by an extreme right-wing government that would cause an outcry among first-world liberals? Well at first, yes. But 13 years later, most cities around the world have taken down their billboards, unplugged their electric signs and peeled back the stickers on taxi cabs and buses.

Traditional advertising has died a sudden death, and no one is mourning its passing.

But this isn’t the work of government. This is the work of societies, communities and individual citizens. Tired of being bombarded with up to 3,000 messages a day, consumers have decided to hit the ‘off’ button, and in a worldwide vote that took place on Facebook and other popular social networks last year, it’s been decided that blatant, in-your-face adverts need to come to an abrupt end.

So where are the adverts hiding these days? More popular than ever, niche social shopping sites send you deals; from your favourite brands and brands that your friends love. Wireless tags embedded in your phone automatically check you in and let your social networking circle know where you’re shopping, what you’re buying, which coffee you’re sipping and what pizza you just gave a five-star rating.

Product placement in movies and TV shows are the new, non-intrusive ‘celebrity endorsements’ of yesteryear, and interactive links to products now form part of the rolling credits. Consumers finally feel that they have their power back – they’re in control about what they wish to see more of and who contacts them.

Needless to say, friend reviews are just about the only deciding factor of what to purchase and from where.

Advertising is so niche and so personal these days that when you’re surfing your favourite website you get deals, Twitter discount codes and served advertising only by the brands you’ve liked, shopped for or visited lately. Ads also contain real-time social information about your network, like: “Hi Lisa, Ashleigh Swaile just bought a polka-dot dress from Asos’s new summer line. It’s similar in style to the heels you bought last week! Check out their brand new line here.”

And what about if you don’t want to hear from a certain brand anymore, because their customer service is shocking? Well you just click ‘Unlike’ or ‘Unfollow’ and just like that, everyone in your network will know; and that brand will no longer be able to reach you. Tough love.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.