Makers of The Future | Strategy Director Anna Fogg on communicating in virtual environments, robotic PA’s and the importance of ease & accessibility in a digitized world

Thought January 28, 2021

What do you see as the biggest brand trend ahead for 2021

A virtual world – through necessity and innovation. Or is that invention…. It’s the perfect storm. Social platforms are tooling up to shift seamlessly from discovery to purchase. New digital businesses have emerged, virtual classes, virtual gigs, virtual well-being, virtual dating…. The launch of Oculus Quest 2 at a price point for the many and not the few. A heightened consciousness around the need for global travel. So many zoom quizzes… In short, we’ve changed. We’re used to communicating in “non-real” environments. Consumer technology has adapted to this new system of life and the good experiences are rising to the top. People are learning and adapting and creativity is being unleashed. Whether it’s augmented brand experiences, immersive retail opportunities, or VR events; virtual and augmented technologies need to be considered across the full consumer journey.


How about in the next 10 years, what changes will we see in the way brands are communicating with their consumers?

Through an AI personalized assistant. Surely by that stage Alexa won’t be so…persistent. If we look back at the last 10 years and look at the change that has occurred in the way we communicate, share thoughts and share stories, it’s a good indicator for the future. Social Media eclipsed traditional communication channels. Platforms began to change the way we communicate and even relate to one another. Imagine self-expression without the selfie,  #metoo without the hashtag, presidential elections without Facebook. These platforms brought us closer to brands, drove expectations on transparency and purpose, meant we could cancel them in a moment’s notice. Can they last for the next 10 years or will new players emerge? Oculus, Alexa, Siri, Google Glass (why not!?!) are all going to play a role in the way brands communicate with us – whether still called those names or translated by upstart competitors.


With the new norm of remote working, what are brands doing to connect with their audience?

I dream of going back to the office. And I never thought I’d ever say that. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Boundaries between work and home, the professional and the personal are essential for both. Creative thinking, brainstorming, imagination, curiosity, debate – pretty limiting when the highlight of the day is the Amazon delivery arriving for next door. When we do start to return to the world, a lot will have changed – certainly in the UK. We can see shifts are happening in the way we shop.  In the UK, shops are closed (Jan 2021) so brands are developing different ways in which we can browse and explore collections, making it easy to order, simple to return. Ease and accessibility are key. Alongside this – escapism. Opportunities to leave my environment through entertainment. Enable me to connect to others with branded experiences and content. And perhaps most importantly of all, remote working is happening in a much broader context. One that is affecting our families, our mental health, and our society. If brands want to connect to their audience they need to connect to the issues they care about. Not in word alone but in the way they operate, the transparency they grant their audience and the long term choices they make.


What about the value of out of home advertising?

There’s no denying out of home ad spend has been hit hard. But as I said above. We will leave the house again. Out of home advertising has always been an opportunity for brands to make big statements to targeted audiences. Capturing the sentiment and feeling of different geographies, neighborhoods, cities, and cultural moments. Digital OOH is adaptive and responsive.  It’s on the nose, it’s close to the line, its creative. I’m sure advertisers won’t miss the opportunity to celebrate with us when we can have that first pint in the sun.


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