Predictions 2023: The year ahead for creative agencies – by Havas’ Fabio Silveira

New technologies are changing the way creatives work, interact and hire, writes Havas Creative Middle East’s Fabio Silveira

Could this be the year the future catches up with us?

This is an interesting year to write about predictions for the creative industry. 

We seem to have taken a step beyond the internet-inspired globalisation in the last few decades, far beyond social media popularisation and the explosion of connected devices. 

We have been seeing artificial intelligence (AI) writing copy and creating images.

Wearables and immersive tech such as AR/VR sets, are getting more popular by the day.

The metaverse is moving on from being the buzzword of 2022 to getting integrated into workplaces and turning into a space where new worlds are designed.

Gaming is bigger than ever is and still growing fast.

With the exception of replicants and flying cars, the day-to-day discussions in the creative industry seem to be taken out of a 20th century futuristic novel. 

It is impossible to dissociate technology and the creative industry. Every single piece of innovation opens new platforms, new forms of expression, new consumer needs, and with those, new job descriptions and opportunities. Still, there are a few constants in this sea of novelty and innovation: brands will keep searching for consumer connection, consumers will still look for purpose, storytellers will still keep storytelling.

Our industry is one that thrives on the new. Pushed by the sense of conquest that comes with being the first explorer in a new world, creative agencies throw themselves at opportunities to be the first ones to tell stories in new ways and on new platforms. The upcoming year will see these stories come in the shape of AI-generated content, copy, captions and media strategies. New worlds, immersive experiences and formats will emerge especially for the boom of virtual and augmented realities and we will see more of the 2022 trend of gaming-specific creativity.

We are already witnessing our industry embrace and celebrate the arrival of this tech and will probably see even more – Web 3.0 marketing awards, categories for creativity in the metaverse and gaming at all major creative festivals from London International, The One Show and D&AD to the new Entertainment Lion for Gaming at this year’s Cannes festival. 

A new breed of storytellers

Beyond the things that do not change are the ones that do. The rise of new tech and platforms does not ask for new talent. It demands it.

Storytelling may be a human trait but the way we experience narratives and tell stories evolves. In the last decade, our industry saw the rise of social media executives, content creators and community managers. The good old copywriter and art director team went far beyond writing scripts for TV and headlines for print and outdoor ads. These teams grew to welcome creative technologists, programmers, 3D designers and other talents who can tell stories that today’s youth are interested in and genuinely identify with.  

Agencies that are gearing up to be fit for the future will have to expand their talent pool. They must find ways of bridging the different generations of the creative industry that we have in our agency floors today and onboarding new talent that will build up ideas to inspire the creatives of tomorrow.

The futuristic novel feel is caused by more than just technological marvels. A post-pandemic world with hybrid work models (WFH, remote work and in-office), an ongoing war in the heart of Europe and the global energy crisis all suggest a futuristic, yet slightly darker 20th century fiction novel.  

All signs point to harsh economic times and, if confirmed, it is likely that we will see a reduction in global marketing spends. While all of us will be hoping for the best agencies will also be preparing for the worst. Driving effective operations and diversifying services to disciplines that will have organic growth are a few of the strategies that agencies are likely to implement. The right choices reside again in understanding the nuances in our industry’s relation with technology. 

We should also be mindful that different brands have different adoption life stages when it comes to innovation. Not all brands are ready to completely transform the way they communicate at the same speed. And not all audiences have the same attitudes and behaviours towards what’s next. All predictions are made with the new generations in mind, while there are large parts of the population being mis-marketed because of our tendency to think ‘future-first’. 

That said, the opportunities and challenges that define 2023 are two sides of a coin. They are simultaneously, the drivers of excitement and the cause of sleepless nights amongst creatives. However, there is light at the end of every tunnel: no matter what, our shared obsession – the striving for creativity – remains the same. This is a time for further experimentation for playing with tech that will shape the years to come. It is a time to use technology to our advantage and complete the transformation that has been happening all around. A time for more than storytelling, for optimising ways of working to drive more work-life balance, allowing us to focus on the essence of our craft. A time for us to take our executional disciplines to the next level. This is when we use our leg up on the future. 

By Fabio Silveira, GM, Havas Creative Middle East