The Female Gaze, Book Clubs, and Experiments in Storytelling: Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2018

The Female Gaze, Book Clubs, and Experiments in Storytelling

Things I’m looking forward to in 2018

By Erna Adelson, Copywriter


2017 was, in a nutshell, challenging. With political and cultural upheaval dominating the airwaves and consciousness, brands and creators alike were compelled to do some soul searching. Every piece of content was examined and measured in light of the tense social climate.


After a year that prompted so much anxiety and internal analysis, it will be fascinating to see how brands evolve their marketing strategies. As consumers increasingly gravitate toward companies that align with their values, brands will have to work harder and smarter to earn their place in people’s homes, garages, closets, and pockets.


What you say as a brand and how you say it in 2018 will matter. Which should make for some exciting, brilliant advertising. To that end, here are some things that I’m watching for:


Women Behind the Scenes

I was one of the many women who wept while watching the battle scenes in Wonder Woman. Patty Jenkins’ film then made over 100 million dollars on opening weekend and went on to become the highest grossing Superhero origin film of all time, sparking the conversation about the tangible effect of having a woman behind the camera.


It’s no secret that the creative side of advertising and marketing is male dominated. The 3% Conference reports that the current percentage of female CD’s is now up to a whopping...11%. Every commercial director and photographer I’ve ever worked with is male. Every. Single. One.


However, that’s long been due for a change, and I believe that that Wonder Woman is the tipping point. In this year’s Future 100 Report, J. Walter Thompson Intelligence listed “the female gaze” as their number one trend to watch. Starting in 2018, I think that smart brands and marketers will seek the perspectives of female photographers, directors and writers. If you’re a marketer, demand that a woman director write a treatment for your next spot or campaign. If you need content, seek female photographers and influencers. With the growth of female-driven media companies like #girlgaze, it is now easier to find the right woman to partner with.


A More Modern Idea of Luxury (Ads)

The past couple of years saw luxury brands getting more experimental in both their message and medium. Mercedes and Volvo tackled the evolving idea of luxury in a series of compelling films, trying long form, even non-linear storytelling. Mercedes’ ‘Grow Up’ campaign took on the rapidly changing expectations of adulthood. Volvo’s non-linear ads got a lot of chatter, and the final installment, featuring a female astronaut, encouraged viewers to “embrace the future.” And in 2016, luxury retailer Burberry mined its heritage to create a beautiful, epic film...trailer. While more nostalgic than progressive, “The Tale of Thomas Burberry” paints the brand’s founder as a complex character - depicting failure, frustration, and infidelity. The production quality of the 3-minute film had Twitter demanding to see the full-length feature. It will be exciting to see how other luxury brands adapt, as consumers demand even more authenticity and diversity in storytelling.


Book Clubs

It seemed like 2017 was the year that people were talking about politics, sexual harassment, and books (at least in my personal bubble). Accordingly, a crop of celebrities has followed Oprah’s lead and are now spearheading book clubs. Emma Watson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emma Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, blogger Lucy Williams, and even David Bowie’s son all promote books via their various channels these days. Which is wonderful for the entertainment and publishing industry, and also just fine by me (although I suspect that all this interest in literacy is part of the reason behind why I’m on like 25 waitlists on Overdrive). I see reading factoring in to certain lifestyle content more and more going forward. And, I hope that these communities don’t get too saturated as marketing vehicles, but so far I don’t mind the select products that turn up in the newsletter for Belletrist, the book club created by Emma Roberts.