Each year in digital media, trends appear that change, shape and influence the way we interact with technology. 2014 was no exception.
More than ever, this past year has pushed the envelope for innovative and interactive media. Dull, flat, impersonal ads have made way for dynamic messages that blur the lines between different media and demand the need for personal, authentic stories.
In our roundup, we look at some of the most important and persuasive messages that defined 2014 as a year for change, unorthodox thinking and originality.
Medias’ Blurred Boundaries
Billboards and posters have been one of America’s most bland, relentless and uninspired staples of traditional advertising. However, Swedish hair-care company Apotek Hjärtat took a poster and built an interactive screen for its newest Apolosophy products that brought true meaning to its phrase, “Make your hair come alive.”
At first, bystanders saw a portrait image of a woman at a standstill. However, as the train approached, viewers saw her hair blow in the wind, as if standing right beside the oncoming car.
British Airways was an early pioneer of this method as well, deciding to take a traditional medium and creating a message that was truly interactive through its #lookup campaign.
Seen in this video, the brand’s billboard displayed children walking towards the plane that was taking off, along with the flight number and final destination.
Not only did the company update a somewhat outdated platform, but it used an accompanying hashtag so that interested Twitter users could follow the conversation surrounding the brand’s newest initiative.
Messaging Gets Personal
More than ever, creating individualized messages for key audiences has become a necessity, not a choice. However, Diet Coke took it to the next level when Coca Cola Israel decided to create 2 million personalized bottle designs.
An algorithm allowed for completely unique designs to be generated automatically. VP of Marketing Alon Zamir said the campaign aimed to show “Diet Coke lovers that they are extraordinary by creating unique one-of-a-kind extraordinary bottles.”
This strategy extended to other messaging as well, including unique billboards and other merchandise reflecting the individual’s specific bottle design.
Call it crazy, call it genius, call it whatever you want. One thing is for sure; standing out in the mass of brands and horde of products truly takes uncommon, personalized approaches for remarkable results.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
In 2014, we all witnessed the melodramatic debacle that was #AlexfromTarget.
A seemingly anonymous, well-intentioned tweet about an attractive teenage employee caused a near-instant outburst of adolescent girls who became wholly consumed and obsessed by Alex LeBeouf’s bright blue eyes and charming smile. His Twitter account shot from 144 followers to nearly 663,000 in just a few days.
Though the situation garnered a few words of praise (and showed the world just how powerful and influential a dedicated army of teenage girls can be), the incident seemed to garner one huge, unanimous eye roll.
— Target (@Target) November 3, 2014
Am i famous now? — Alex Lee (@acl163) November 2, 2014
Is this what the power of Twitter has come to, some asked. The answer is no. Though sometimes we are inundated with seemingly shallow, diluted hashtags with little meaning, there are still messages on this platform that act as purveyors of change and action.
As seen with the #IceBucketChallenge, hundreds of thousands of individuals took to twitter to raise awareness about ALS and used the platform to tag friends, urge others to take the plunge and unite for a cause.
Overall, 4.4 million tweets contained #IceBucketChallenge and the social media campaign managed to raise over $88.5 million.
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) August 19, 2014
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) August 16, 2014
Make It Good, and People Won’t Mind Consuming Your Content
In 2007, YouTube began publishing year-end reports of its most popular and viewed videos. Unlike years past when low quality cat videos and the infamous “Leave Britney Alone!” clips topped the chart, this year has taken a significant turn in the support of native advertising.
In 2014, 4 ads made the list—an unprecedented amount. Nike, Budweiser, and UK-based clothing line Wren all made the cut for brands that transcended one-way media trends and truly engaged with millions of audience members.
All of these ads’ ingenuity, quality and unique thinking showed that individuals were willing to engage with content, even if it was paid or promoted.
2014 was the year in which changes that have been talked about were first implemented.
The past 12 months have shown a rise in multi-media and cross-platform integration; a push for truly individualized messages, even on a mass level; an emphasis on using social media platforms for justice and for social good; and, lastly, a heightened interest in engaging with paid messaging.
All of these trends have proven to be vastly influential and valuable. Here’s to hoping that in 2015, the online world will continue to push for content that authentically targets and inspires its millions of fans, followers and users.