You are here

Happy new year or unlucky ’13?

Prepare yourself for some bad news.

Nothing is going to happen in 2013. There are no major sporting events, royal weddings, national celebrations, or landings on other planets. Kate Middleton will have a baby, but even mini-Middleton won’t be able to save us from the emptiness that we will feel when Big Ben’s strikes echo across our grey and gloomy country. We’re about to be plunged into darkness.

Marketing, as an abstract concept, relies on external stimulation to survive. You can’t plan a creative marketing campaign without cultural markers from which to bounce off. Think of all the best marketing campaigns you’ve seen this year – they will all have a reference… Things like sport, social commentary, celebrity, mergers & acquisitions, or global affairs provide the meat for the creative hook to, well, hook into.

But ‘empty 13’, as the industry has started to call it, is going to be extremely lean. So what are we going to do? Do we even turn up to work? Shall we all just take 2013 off? Will marketing grind to a halt?

We can’t let that happen. This is our time. Marketers must rise up and fill the void. Without the backdrop of large social events, campaigns will need to be more creative. With a public less engaged with activities outside their own personal sphere, messages will need to be sharpened to razor-like focus. With less margin for error, outcomes will be more closely measured than ever before.

And this is why 2013 is going to be the best year for marketing that many of us will have ever known, or experience for many years to come. Look at it this way – what decent pop music is ever released during an economic boom? The internet boom of the late 90s gave us ‘Barbie Girl’, ‘MMMBop’, ‘Who let the dogs out’ and a slew of saccharine hits from the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls.

The bursting of the bubble, and the subsequent credit crunch and deep recession has put stripped-back electro music from acts like The XX and Alt-J at the top of the charts, and dark and contemplative folk from Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran have become our end-of-night choice for a slow dance. (My theory works across generations too – Late 80s boom? Rick Astley and Jason Donovan. Early 90s recession? Massive Attack and Radiohead. I could go on.)

This is what you need to turn ‘empty 13’ into the best year for marketing yet:

  1. Get creative with ideas – without multi-billion pound national events to give you an easy springboard for your message, it’s no longer good enough to echo the prevailing public opinion. You need to FORM the opinion, and lead people with the power of your amazing creative. Don’t go for big ideas, go for long ones – ideas that last through multiple engagements.
  2. Get creative with channels – 2013 is the year that social media stops being social media, and starts being an integral part of ALL media. Stop thinking about print, email, digital, social and in-person as separate entities. Start leading with the story and how it speaks to your business pain. Tear up the rule book and try new things. There is no wrong.
  3. Get creative with your customers and partners. In an always-on world, we’re struggling for cut-through. Empower your channel and community to get involved in what you’re doing and share your excitement for the opportunities that 2013 will bring. Set the agenda for creativity, and share your content every way you know how.

Looks like 2013 might turn out to be a great year after all.

Get involved at