Creative Trends to Flex Advertising Spend Even Harder

Two months into 2023, we’re seeing new advertising tactics taking the main stage for brands adapting their message to a shifting audience. Every day, marketers are communicating with their audience across channels – from 30-second TV spots to digital ads. In those communications, every choice matters.

With ad spend growth expected to be a more modest 3.8%, compared to 2022’s 8% growth, brands need their creative to flex harder to maximize impact. This month, we asked Brownstein’s creative team members to tell us what they’re seeing in recent advertising trends to understand what brands can do to get the most out of their current ad spend.

Refining The Narrative

Brands look to provoke some kind of emotion in their advertising. When done just right, an affecting spot can help audiences resonate more with a brand’s messaging, but it can be a delicate balance not to overproduce the story.

“One advertising trend we’re seeing is a move back to simplicity and honesty in storytelling,” said Meredith Schwinder, Group Creative Director. “The Airbnb campaign from the big game is a great example — a series of stills set to a perfectly chosen piece of music that gives us all the feels, and shows us what the product can do. Chef’s kiss.”

Airbnb’s recent spots have shown off real customer experiences in ways that feel familiar to the audience while maintaining a romantic element. The brand proves that it’s all about telling an authentic story – and you don’t need dozens of bells and whistles to do it.

Uncommon Holidays

While brands on social media have been celebrating less common holidays for some time, generally, brands have been hesitant to produce major spots for all but the special occasions that fall in December. But the tide is changing.

Brownstein and longstanding client, NJM Insurance, have identified strategic ways to extend the “No Jingles or Mascots” campaign into this evolving trend. While its most recent spot offers a comedic look into the fictional world of a mascot therapist, we tapped into the cultural moment of Halloween to take a new approach to the campaign and look past the typical holidays.

“Halloween is big right now — for all categories. The trick (no pun intended) is to do it in a seamless and not forced way,” said Christopher Grenier, Group Creative Director. “This year, we created a fun spot for NJM Insurance about being ‘haunted’ by past insurance decisions that gets into the spirit of the holiday. Connecting into seasonality increases relevance, but keeping the fundamental messaging is what makes the spot work.”

New Comedy Stylings

While many advertising categories have long been dominated by comedy, brands are breaking out of the tried-and-true aesthetics of spokespeople standing next to their potential customers. One of the best representations of this is the recent Dunkin’ spot featuring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.

“Dunkin’s unscripted, docu-style ad really captures spontaneity that other, more stylized ads do not,” said Nicole Lundy, Executive Producer. Affleck is a well-known Dunkin’ fan, so the believability he brings to the spot also reflects authenticity on behalf of the brand. A double win.

Clear Storytelling And Deepened Interaction

Although many of the ad spots coming out this year focus more on realism and simplified production styles, these choices don’t preclude using more recent, tech-based ways to connect with an audience. Creative that can deftly combine these two elements is likely going to be a big part of the near future of advertising.

“We’re seeing a return to basics with clear storytelling and fewer celebrity endorsements or gimmicks, like the recent spot from The Farmer’s Dog,” said Scott Cirlin, Creative Director. “On the other hand, brands are pushing toward the future with QR codes and social media. If the two can live together in short, interesting stories delivered to consumers where they are spending time online, it could be entertaining for potential customers and very effective for clients.”

The creative shifts of 2023 are varied; however, the overall storytelling of advertising is moving away from more aspirational messaging and closer to the reality that consumers experience. Whether funny or moving, empathizing with the audience is set to be an even bigger point of emphasis in 2023 for brands that want to get the most out of their ad spend.

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