2018 was a year that saw people eat Tide Pods and insistent fans inspire McDonald’s to bring back a long-retired sauce (with disastrous results). It was a year that played host to the Winter Olympics and taught us all about Wakanda Forever. It was also the year when emojis became a movie …so you know, high highs and low lows. Through it all, irrepressible threads rose up over the waves of trend and came to dominate the public consciousness (or at least the CSG consciousness), if only for a while.
As 2019 gets rolling, we’re taking a few moments to reflect on a handful of things that had our offices absolutely buzzing.
The Hereditary Marketing Campaign
If you haven’t heard of Hereditary, the absolutely bonkers summer horror film from A24, you definitely don’t work at CSG. Although it was released in June, it was a topic for us even before the Super Bowl was decided — thanks, Sundance! It’s not just that Toni Collette is fabulous (she is) and that watching the trailers for Hereditary was like a pressure test (it was), but that there was an incredible amount of strategy in the way this picture was packaged and presented.
From a splashy Sundance debut to creepy keepsakes gifted to high profile collaborators and a marketing machine that had all eyes on Toni Collette months before awards conversations even started and kept her in them to the bitter end, A24 found a way to turn an arthouse genre film into one of the buzziest titles in a summer of superheroes. And you better believe we were there for it.
TL;DR — Thoughtful, integrated marketing isn’t just effective, it’s extremely impressive.
Podcasts. Lots of Them
CSGers love a good yarn. And we swap podcast recommendations like 90s kids swapped Pokémon cards — enthusiastically, almost competitively. Heavyweight, Ologies, Escaping NXIVM, Believed, Up and Vanished, Women at Work and By the Book were new entries alongside our oft-repeated favorites, ranging from My Favorite Murder to The Adventure Zone and You Must Remember This to Reply All and Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend.
TL;DR — They say attention span is a thing of the past, but audio storytellers are finding ways to engage listeners routinely. Almost religiously.
Yeah. We said it. Good reboots do exist. And Netflix has cornered the market. For those of us with a keen interest in branding, a reboot is a bit like a rebrand – it can be a disaster or a triumph, but it should always aim to be a bold new take on a familiar story. In 2018, Netflix scored big on two such risks in their original programming, including a new, more compassionate take on Queer Eye, with five hosts who sprang to instant sensation status.
Later in the year, an even more unlikely triumph arrived in the form of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. No longer a prime-time 90s sitcom with a talking cat, new Sabrina walks the darkest line of the comics and gives us some serious Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes. Call it lingering affection for Sally Draper if you will, but young Kiernan Shipka is still a gift to television, from kid actor who could act to a leading lady with gumption, she’s making all our reboot dreams come true.
TL;DR — Sometimes a little (or a lot) of change is a very good thing.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Not even the heavy dose of true crime podcasts that float around the periphery of CSG could compete with the written word when it came to the late, great Michelle McNamara’s long-awaited Golden State Killer book. And if the tome itself wasn’t already enough to keep some of us clustered in corners whispering about the most chilling sequences, the news that an arrest was made in the case shortly after the book hit our hands inspired waves of instant messages, link shares and live commentary on court appearances.
TL;DR — There’s no brand lesson here, just proof that an incredible story told incredibly well can never lose.
This post has not been shy about employing the Royal We, but well, this is the moment where “We” draw the line. SOME of our number are deeply, deeply tickled by Mason Ramsey (aka the kid who yodeled in Walmart) and have made sure the rest of us have been updated on his every move since blasting to viral fame. A bit of digging shows that the Mason Ramsey channel had a few uploads before the now famous video was uploaded by someone else — we can’t know if the Ramsey family had a plan to launch their pint-sized yodeler to stardom, but if that Walmart video was guerilla marketing, it was pretty incredible.
TL;DR — Find your audience, engage them, and you might get a record contract.
Show us what you got, 2019.
Ready for more from the minds of CSG? Check out our thoughts on the strategic communications trends that will dominate 2019.