Three Trends to Look For in 2024: Owen Smith – Grey Hong Kong

We ask industry leaders to give us their take on what’s to come in the year ahead and reflect on the year that’s passed.

As the great Prince once sang, “I have seen the future, and it will be.”

With the New Year just passed, and another trip around the sun completed, it’s that time once again to take a peek into the future and offer up what we think it will be.

As part of an annual series, we asked industry leaders what they see coming in the year ahead while also looking at the year just passed.


Next up is Owen Smith Chief Strategy Officer at Grey Hong Kong, taking a look ahead, a look back, and at the fate of his New Year’s resolution for 2023.

Looking Ahead

What are three trends to look for in the coming year?

Better briefs prevail:

2024 marks the 10th anniversary of the ‘slide that launched 1000 arguments’.  It’s been a hard decade for the brief. Much maligned as ‘constrictive’ and ‘cumbersome’ as we strove for ‘agility’ and ‘co-creation’, the brief as an instrument deteriorated or was binned altogether. Recent research, however, shows that marketers and agencies alike have taken notice of the ill-effects of ill-formed briefs. In 2024, actions will finally catch up with survey responses and better briefs will prevail within agency-marketer dynamics.


Rise of the humans:

Much has been written about AI’s ability to augment or displace humans’ role in the creative process – a narrative that can breed excitement at times but equally complacency or despondency.  In light of this, a third thread is potentially worth our attention: AI as a kick in the pants to do what only we can do, better.

An example is this work for Nikon out of Peru that borrows from AI nomenclature to celebrate nature and humanity.  In 2024, more and more humans will rise to the occasion and show that the most advanced creative technology out there is still the synapse – at least for a little while longer.

Stop making sense:

With the long documented decline in influence of the CMO, marketing that ‘makes sense’ has become increasingly popular with increasingly non-marketer decision makers. The problem with marketing that makes sense is that it often leads to marketing the same as everyone else – which from a marketing perspective just doesn’t make much sense at all.

“The problem with marketing that makes sense is that it often leads to marketing the same as everyone else – which from a marketing perspective just doesn’t make much sense at all.”

Recently, new breeds of CMOs have regained enough C-suite trust to be given the space to ‘step up and think boldly’. In 2024, more marketing leaders will find more solid footing in the organizational hierarchy and we will all stop making sense a bit more together.

Looking Back

Your favourite trend of 2023

Questioning generational marketing:

There’s something to be said for shared generational experiences – but two-decade catchalls just seem lazy. I mean, I’m technically a millennial. Which is clearly absurd.

Your favourite campaign of 2023?

Volvo: “For Life”.

I tend to recoil when ‘life’ shows up in a line, but the use of it here overcomes the usual vagaries to capture something quite specific and right for Volvo. The line has been bopping around for awhile, but the added layer of interpretation of safety as a platform for progress picks a fight with ‘do things that terrify you’ and ‘go fast and break things’ culture in an interesting way.

The only thing that could have made the launch film better would have been to weave in a bit of the original Freddie.

What was your 2023 New Year’s Resolution and did you keep it?

Write more thought pieces. Just slipped it in under the wire! (depending on when this posts…)

Check out our Three Trends series here.


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