From survival to ‘thrival’

Futurist: Nat Irvin II, 48, founder and president of Future Focus 2020, an urban-futurist think tank based at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina....

Futurist: Nat Irvin II, 48, founder and president of Future Focus 2020, an urban-futurist think tank based at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Scenario: "Advances in technology and the explosion of startups have huge implications for the black community. At least three future scenarios are possible: In one scenario, which I call the ‘long black boom,’ more black Americans than ever enter business. At the other extreme is the ‘evening sun going down’ scenario, in which blacks remain caught in the already-wide gap in wealth, earnings, and education that exists between them and more-affluent people. The third scenario— ‘nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen’—falls in the middle: A series of economic fits and starts causes the status of black Americans to remain relatively unchanged. I believe that blacks have a good chance of moving from survival mode to ‘thrival’ mode."

So What? "A transformation of thinking will take place within the black community. Black people will no longer be the monitors of social conscience in U.S. society; they will leave the public-sector and advocacy worlds, and they will enter business – in particular, e-commerce."

Futurology Decoder Key: "As we enter a more technology-driven world, people will organize themselves less and less according to race. So digital advancements will transcend race, geography, and government. Meanwhile, churches, temples, and other houses of worship will become forums for discussing the moral and ethical implications of technology."

Contact Nat Irvin by e-mail (irvinnx@wfu.EDU)

Reprinted with permission from Fast Company, May 2000

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group