Trends you might have missed

Say goodbye to giftvertising, and say hello to YouTubers and anyone but mom. Here's what you should keep an eye on in 2015.

Did 2014 feel like it passed in a blur? Did you miss all the massive headlines over the past year? (Was it something in the water?) Did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and major brand gift-vertising campaigns take up the majority of your social feeds?

Well, you’d be forgiven if you missed some of the more subtle brand trends of the past year.

So, to end the year, we went out to some experts to highlight hot trends you might have missed, that are just starting to bubble up, and what’s on the outs.

Welcome the YouTubers

YouTubers are heating up, says Ian Buck, managing director at Notch Video. He says that YouTube stars are starting to capture brand attention (and about time considering how popular these YouTubers are). Tim Horton’s “Dark Roast” campaign, for example, featured a pair of prominent Quebec stars. And it’s more than just having them create content, such as reviews or demos, around a product. Rather, these stars are getting starring roles. It’s like having “authentic” celeb spokespeople.

But Buck cautions that brands and YouTubers are still trying to figure out what works best for everyone involved. He points to a recent campaign he saw out of Toronto, featuring a YouTuber with a social following of more than 500,000. But the actual video itself lived on the brand page, instead of the YouTuber’s, which Buck says felt like a missed opportunity for reach.

The “anyone but mom” brief

Jason Chaney, SVP strategy at Cossette, says a trend you might have missed (or maybe you spotted but didn’t connect the dots), was “Anything-but-mom-vertising.” Dads became a big hit this year, with brands like Cheerios and Dove targeting them (and, thankfully, ditching the buffoon stereotype).

“Every brief we used to get was targeting moms,” Chaney says. “I think people are looking for new opportunities. They feel like they’ve penetrated the market as much as they can.”

Goodbye giftvertising

Krista Webster, president at Veritas Communication says consumers are starting to reject the concept of “surprise and delight” marketing. While brands like WestJet and TD really hit it big this past year with their gift-giving campaigns, the concept it getting a bit worn, and consumers and brands started pushing back.

“You can’t get away from it right now,” she says. “But what made it special was that it was predicated on authentic engagement. It was a surprise in the moment. Now, there’s a feeling it’s overused and over-produced.”

So, even though this holiday season was replete with examples of the gift-vertising craze, brands are starting to ask for those same touching moments, but without the camera crew attached. “When you have to talk about surprise and delight and then film it, it’s no longer genuine.” Expect the craze to die in 2015.

Bonus trends: Did you spot the trend towards new dark products? Tim Hortons was the best known brand to unveil a dark line, but so did Schweppes Gingerale (in October) and Axe (this summer).