The following is a guest post by Erin Moran, global chief revenue officer at WMX. Opinions are the author’s own.
Culture is in a constant state of change and brands have a huge opportunity to not only insert themselves into the cultural conversation, but to drive the change forward. The concept has increasingly become more realistic as brands are both becoming more vocal about their mission to change culture as well as taking the steps to actually drive change.
Take Sprite, for example — Sprite is a brand that is deeply invested in culture (and more specifically, hip-hop culture). Over the past few years, Sprite has made it their mission to not only elevate hip-hop culture, but to push the boundaries of where that culture can go. As part of the brand’s Thirst For Yours campaign, Sprite put the power in the hands of young, passionate creators by giving them the platform and resources to produce their own music video for emerging musician Moxie Knox.
There’s no question that brands can learn from campaigns like this — but where does that leave agencies?
Given the sheer number of campaigns they are working on in addition to demanding planning cycles, it can be difficult for agencies to stay one step ahead of culture shifts. If agencies want to not only keep up with change, but actually drive it, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
Embrace the next generation with open arms
If agencies want to be able to speak to the next generation of fans and consumers, they must go beyond having a deep understanding of their behaviors and interests and actually work with generational stakeholders directly. Whether it’s hiring Gen Z candidates or forming partnerships with younger influencers or ambassadors, agencies can gain access to invaluable insights and fresh perspectives on everything they do.
Immerse yourself (and your agency) in culture
The best way for leaders to really understand what’s happening in culture is to immerse themselves in it. Agency leaders can do this in many ways — open a crypto wallet and purchase an NFT, attend a virtual experience in Roblox and get to know others on the platform, engage with content on TikTok and read the comments or listen to new music from emerging artists and have conversations with their fans. Leaders should also take action to immerse their larger organizations in culture as well, hosting panel discussions and guest speakers from other organizations and areas of culture to contribute their point of view.
Monitor and forecast trends
Agencies need to be strategic when it comes to monitoring current trends and forecasting future ones. While this means listening to consumers on a consistent basis, it also means anticipating what’s next and working closely with partners who are deeply ingrained in the cultural landscape.
At the end of the day, agencies that truly want to drive cultural change must act boldly. Driving change requires agencies to explore new territories, experiment on new platforms and take some big risks.