Fast Forward 2005: 81-87

The future is something to get excited about again. Here’s our look at the surprising people, ideas, and trends that will change how we work and live in 2005.


81. The Ad Agency’s Metamorphosis

When Crispin Porter + Bogusky generated buzz for its “subservient chicken” campaign for Burger King this year, it served notice that some new creatives had arrived to shake up the ad game. Along with StrawberryFrog and Mother (two young European agencies that opened their doors on Madison Avenue within the past year), they represent a generation in which the creatives rule the roost. Mother and StrawberryFrog, for example, both feature flat structures with constant open dialogue between creatives and clients. StrawberryFrog supplements its staff of 70 with a global network of more than 350 copywriters, filmmakers, and other artists to ensure clients are getting the best talent at the best price. Are account executives and rigid hierarchies a thing of the past? Probably not. But if these agencies can grow and still dodge the bureaucracy bullet, the rest of the industry may be a subservient chicken if it doesn’t follow suit.


82. Hierarchies: Not Going Anywhere

As charming as it is to see these Euro ad agencies flattening the org chart, the truth is that you can put your pitchforks and torches away: Storming the castle isn’t going to work. Just take a tour of your local bookstore: The Fiefdom Syndrome, Top Down, The Peon Book. People are getting pretty beaten up inside companies, and revolution is unlikely this year. But maybe we’ll finally acknowledge that hierarchies are a fact of life, and start dealing with them.

83. Soda for Pop (and Mom, Too)

Bubbles be gone! The new pops, for the discerning adult palate, feature less fizz, no artificial flavors, and sophisticated flavors. Rather than plain ol’ orange, there’s clementine and Valencia orange. Three companies have made the biggest splash so far — Izze, GuS (grown-up soda), and Steaz — and all of them will expand distribution nationwide next year. The beverages can be refreshing, but some of them are so light that you’ll wonder why you’re paying $1.29 a bottle for lightly flavored seltzer water.

84. Two-Pizza Teams Rule the Day

If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too big and will get clogged up with bureaucracy. Jeff Bezos taught us that when explaining Amazon’s strategy for developing innovative cells inside his company. These two-pizza teams should be the rule in any organization, not just within teams but for any collaborative meetings. No word on whether teams that like anchovies get more done.

85. Oh, Behave!

Search-engine marketing reinvigorated the Internet as an ad medium. That’ll look like a parlor trick if the next wave crests. Known as behavioral marketing, its aim is to track and analyze the Web-surfing habits of millions of users to figure out what you want to buy, when you’re likely to buy it, and how companies can capture you at exactly the right moment. Everyone from Google and Yahoo to up-and-comers such as Kanoodle and Tacoda will be pursuing this. The industry needs to settle on standards (think the equivalent of radio’s demographic groups) before growth will kick in. But the nascency of the tech won’t diminish the privacy debates that will surround its rollout. Our question: Will users get time off for good behavior?

86. TV Commercials Get Smart Online

With broadband hitting critical mass this coming year, advertisers will take advantage of being able to air video commercials online to do meaningful Web branding campaigns, but with the benefits of tracking that the Internet provides. Although right now most advertisers experimenting with this technology are just putting their TV spots on the Web, some are starting to add interactivity. Honda, for example, has an ad that lets viewers look at individual car features separately. With more interactivity come more opportunities to track viewer likes and dislikes, to tailor the campaign accordingly, and to market more effectively. But if ads don’t engage the viewer, computer users have even more control over shutting down video ads, which will make it all too clear to advertisers that their efforts aren’t working.


87. A Revealing Machine

Reveal Imaging is developing a baggage-screening machine that would be small enough — and easy enough to use — to be positioned at the check-in counter. So rather than building a separate facility for baggage screening or forcing passengers to schlep their bags to a different part of the terminal, airlines can have check-in agents send the bags through themselves. Besides being smaller, the machine gives fewer false alarms. The company won a grant from the Transportation Security Agency and is working on its first few prototype machines now.

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