What’s hot in marketing for 2019

Towards the end of last year, I got to experience the madness of MAD//Fest, discovering the latest in marketing and tech. Here’s a round-up of the top 3 trends that will make their mark on marketing in 2019 – garnered from Missguided, Not on the High Street, Moonpig, Tenzing, Uber and Goodvertising author Thomas Kolster.


The average human has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. With so much attention deficiency out there – and reportedly only 16% of advertising passing through – how can brands cut through? Native advertising says Missguided’s Digital Marketing Director, Nick Bamber. Ad-blocking and the rise of platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, that have been built to camouflage ads, have led to an increase in native advertising spend. Missguided coupled up with reality TV series Love Island as its official clothing sponsor last summer. Viewers could shop Missguided clothes worn by contestants in the villa directly through the Love Island app; a move which saw the online fashion retailer’s sales increase by 40% week on week. Bamber stressed that relevancy is crucial for native ads. The winning formula, he argues, is merging the right message, at the right time and place to the right audience.


Back-to-back talks from Not on the High Street and Moonpig.com saw both online brands discuss the need to be more personal and dial up on emotion.

Most personalised ads are personalised but not personal, says Not on the High Street’s Penny Parnell. These ‘personalised’ ads forget you’re human and make assumptions about you, rather than suggestions. We’ve become too reliant on tech and forgotten the need for a human touch, Parnell argues. According to her, creativity needs to be added into the mix to access and segment data better; e.g. segmenting by music or what people find funny – going beyond segmenting by age and gender. This as a result, will deliver better, more meaningful personal experiences.

Moonpig’s recent marketing refresh has also been sparked by an ambition to “put the emotion back into occasion”. Despite being the leader in the online card market and renowned for its distinctive jingle, Moonpig customers weren’t associating the brand with the emotional aspect of giving and receiving a card. Speaking at MAD//FEST, CMO Andre Rickerby admits that “as a brand we didn’t fully realise we are actually an intermediary in that journey, which gives us permission to move into this space”. Its new brand positioning therefore has much more focus on emotion: ‘unleash the caring instinct and cultivate the caring habit’.


Another hot topic at MAD//FEST was brand purpose. Tenzing founder Huib van Bockel kicked off Day 1 by sharing his plant-based energy drink’s brand journey. Inspired by the natural energy brew that the Sherpa people drink on Mount Everest, Van Bockel named his drink after Tenzing Norgay – one of the first two individuals to reach the elusive summit. Huib admitted that he can’t compete with the marketing budgets of big dogs Red Bull & Coca Cola. But what he can do is offer a remarkable product with a strong brand purpose. And he’s done just that. Tenzing is sold on Mount Everest and throughout Nepal – its 2nd market after the UK. The brand is also dedicated to clearing litter along the trail to the summit – a great example of a brand that is staying true to its brand story.

The need for a strong brand purpose resounded with Uber’s Kelly McConville too. Acknowledging that whilst Uber has “done the innovation thing” and disrupted the market with a viral product, it hasn’t cracked marketing. The number of trips decreasing for the first time in Uber history in 2017 sparked a brand transformation. With a shift in focus from price to purpose, the ride-sharing company has introduced a new mantra: “we do the right thing, period”. So, when Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving, Uber ran an entire campaign on the topic. It also has plans to pilot a new feature to encourage women to become Uber drivers in Saudi Arabia.

In his keynote, Goodvertising author Thomas Kolster echoed Tenzing and Uber sentiments on the importance of brand purpose. Whilst more and more big brands have embraced purpose in the past few years, Kolster questions their authenticity. Brands are too focused on sharing the good they’re doing, rather than doing good. Kolster argues that brands need to live their purpose – fight for it. And not just say that they stand for something.


Want to know what else is in store for 2019? Check out 12 trends that the Decidedly team predicts will shake up the business landscape this year.