News 29.12.2023

Need to Know

LS:N Global’s exploration of Pop Culture & Media in 2023 touched on everything from the future of social media platforms, magazines and the entertainment industry to new ways to consume culture – moving away from virality to reach longevity. 

The Trend: Danse Macabre

Wednesday, US Wednesday, US

Global – Scarred by 9/11, terrorist attacks, school shootings, natural disasters induced by global warming and the Covid-19 pandemic, American Gen Z have seen countless headlines about death from the moment they were born. As teenagers and young adults, they have added the word itself ('dead,' 'I died') into their informal speech so much so that sharing suicidal thoughts or sending death threats online is now, if not standard, highly expected.

Comedy and meme culture are therapeutic for this generation, who face high rates of stress and anxiety. ‘My entire generation cope with reality through memes and dark humour with a nihilistic and absurdist approach,' writes journalist Shreeja Paschal for The Quint.

A 2021 survey published by Aura, a platform where people facing the end of life can leave an online legacy for their loved ones, revealed that Gen Z respondents were three times more likely to talk to their friends about death and over four times more likely to speak about it to their families.

In our Danse Macabre microtrend, we analyse how, from video games where all the players do is kill people to true crime podcasts and horror films, death has become a recurring topic in the products that the entertainment industry sells to Gen Z.

The Big Idea: Snap’s Retail Play

Snapchat and H&M Snapchat and H&M

Global – Launched in 2011 as a social media platform dedicated to ephemeral pictures and messages, Snapchat has seen its Stories format imitated by Instagram and its revolutionary augmented reality (AR) filters move to TikTok. But the app remains relevant, with 397m daily active users reached in the second quarter of 2023 – an increase of 14% year on year.

According to the company, most of that growth came from outside the US in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where 68% of the population use the app at least once a month.

Predominantly used by Gen Z and Millennials – 45% of Snapchatters in the UK are 25 years old or older, according to the company – the platform is still essential for the media and entertainment industry for promotion. In 2023, a variety of business and organisations – from the Barbie movie to the Women’s World Cup and Vogue – collaborated on immersive AR activations with Snap.

Searching for new revenue streams, the company is now repurposing its expertise in AR as a B2B service provider while betting on in-app artificial intelligence to retain advertisers. Take a look at our Brand Innovation Debrief: Snap’s Retail Play to read more.

The Campaign: Adidas Rivalry turns to ballroom and breakdancing in new ad

Adidas, Australia

Australia – In a strategic and timely move that transcends mere sportswear marketing, Adidas Rivalry has used the realms of ballroom and breakdance battles to redefine rivalry as a cultural phenomenon. In a new promotional short film imagined with Rolling Stone Australia, the brand showcases how its shoes were made for electrifying dancers performing against each other.

The film features ballroom dancer Tony Oxybel and breakdancer B-Girl Mags coming together to show that battles are not just about outshining competitors, but are rather a commitment to elevating the cultural legacy of their art and expressing their identity on the dance floor.

After the success of Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour and Madonna’s Celebration tour featuring ballroom dancers, Adidas Rivalry smartly jumps on the trend by showing how dance battles (in Adidas shoes) are a celebration of inclusivity. It positions the brand as more than just an athletic gear provider but as a curator of cultural narratives, resonating profoundly with diverse audiences. In Ballroom's Renaissance, we question the ethics of using ballroom culture in advertising.

The Viewpoint: Black art matters in Web3

3D art submission by Timid Clover for Open Source Afro Hair Library created by AM Darke 3D art submission by Timid Clover for Open Source Afro Hair Library created by AM Darke

UK – In April 2023, LS:N Global sat down with Nubianizm, aka Rica, a 27-year-old medical prosthetist and portraitist specialising in hyper-realistic portraits celebrating Black people. In 2022, she took her art to Web3 and is now a community leader inspiring other Black artists and Black art patrons to make the blockchain more diverse.

In The Betterverse, we looked at how virtual realms, similar to Nubianizm’s online art community, could be used for good. ‘I’ve worked on projects supporting artists but also mindfulness and mental health,’ says Rica. ‘Other Black initiatives on Web3 include an upcoming free HBCU [historically Black college and university] for under-represented and marginalised people who want to get into web development or digital art.’

As calls for decolonisation, reparation and sending back art to its country of origin gain traction, not much is said about Black digital art. Anyone could buy Nubianizm’s hyper-realistic Black portrait NFTs and profit by reselling them, but the blockchain makes it nearly impossible to appropriate it and wipe Rica’s input from history.

‘NFTs are literally non-fungible tokens, meaning that they are a unique code on the blockchain,’ she says. ‘As long as there’s proof that you are the original artist, once you put that artwork on the blockchain, it can be sold 100 times. The person who put it online first will be on the blockchain for ever.’

The Space: Intuit Mailchimp enters Design Museum to question the future of emails

Email is Dead exhibition by Design Museum, London, UK
Email is Dead exhibition by Design Museum, London, UK
Email is Dead exhibition by Design Museum, London, UK

UK – Back in October 2023, London’s Design Museum unveiled its immersive exhibition, Email is Dead, in collaboration with email and marketing automation platform Intuit Mailchimp. The temporary space was designed to provide a multi-sensory experience that re-imagines the future of email communications.

Visitors entered through a bright yellow wall designed like an envelope and engaged in interactive activities, such as creating an email time capsule and taking an email personality test. The exhibition also featured a customised soundtrack and even an aroma, Eau de Email, designed to evoke the sense of connection and lucidity associated with email. The exhibit celebrated email’s longevity over the past 50 years and challenged visitors to rethink their perceptions of this ubiquitous form of communication.

‘With the rapid expansion of AI that’s happening, we found the chatter about the death of email to be, quite frankly, hilarious,’ Christian Widlic, group creative director at Intuit Mailchimp, told Wallpaper.

By celebrating its core mission of sending emails, Intuit Mailchimp proves how essentialism should be embraced by brands as a tool to grow not only brand awareness – visitors recognised Mailchimp’s yellow branding throughout the exhibit – but also a reminder of their USP and roots.

Download the Future Forecast 2024 report

Now that you know what shaped 2023, discover what’s on the horizon. Download our Future Forecast 2024 report comprising 50 new trends across 10 key consumer sectors, insights from our analysts and interviews with global innovators.

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The Future Sessions Bundle, which includes both our Future Forecast 2024 and Future Five 2024 PDF reports, is available to purchase from The Future Laboratory shop. Interested in becoming a member? Learn more here

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