If you want to read the introduction to this series, you’ll find it here.
This post looks at ‘Advertising’.
Why advertising? Who does it benefit? How will future advertising be presented? How will it look, feel, sound?
At present, advertising, marketing, promotion, call it what you will (they’re all methods of persuading people to buy), accounts for anything from 2.5% to 50% of a company’s budget. That spend is, of course, reflected in the price of goods/services and the wages paid to workers. Will it increase, decrease, or stay the same in the future?
Who benefits from advertising? The consumer is close to the bottom of the pile of beneficiaries, as you’d expect, though companies will tell you they give you ‘choice’, another marketing ploy. Platforms carrying adverts are the major winners: places like Google, Facebook, etc. Agencies gain a great deal, too. The end buyer, the consumer, benefits in the availability of new TV/film/music streams from the various commercial producers of these products, who gain their income mostly from advertising coupled with subscription fees. Interestingly, in the UK the consumer gains similar benefits from a small, single, annual payment to the country’s public broadcasting company, though many complain at the fee, forgetting they pay significantly more per annum for their subscriptions and the goods advertised on those platforms. But such is the nature of consumption. Many folk are easily persuaded they want things they don’t need and are equally easily separated from their hard-earned cash without being aware that, in some cases, up to half that cost has been spent on making them value the product.
In any rational system, such idiocy wouldn’t exist. But we have what we have: a world dominated by the ‘American Dream’ of unlimited capitalism regardless of how that affects the environment, society, equality, and justice. One might be forgiven for wondering if this dream is actually a nightmare for most. Will such considerations become more manifest in future, as social media expands ideas free of the pressures of main-stream channels of communication?
As for methods of presentation, we already have embryonic smell-o-vision. What other senses might be recruited by technology to convince consumers of the necessity of purchasing this or that product or service?
The world of VR holds much promise for marketers. Who knows when the current headset will be augmented by a full body suit that adds ‘touch’ to the virtual experience and creates a total-body desire for fulfilment by reality, or replaces the real with an artificial experience?
The campaign of the recently rejected American President bent the truth, made unfulfillable promises, accused competitors of unproven misdeeds, converted mediocre successes into ever more boastful soundbites, etc. Is such ‘advertising’ likely to increase or not in the future? Will people become desensitised, requiring marketers to engage in ever more extreme claims to make their wares stand out from the crowd? Will the public be subjected to inescapable advertising campaigns whenever they step outside? How far will commerce be able to inflate prices to feed their perceived need to promote the goods on offer?
These, and many other questions are worth considering if you’re writing urban future fiction. You may not need to include detailed descriptions, but a world of 2100 will inevitably be very different from today’s, and any fiction that sticks to what we currently live with will hardly be credible.
So, how do you see advertising/marketing/promotion developing in the future period that’s the setting of your story?
Part 1 of the series is here. Part 2, here.