2030, the danger of a 'native advertising' city
What place will brands hold in the city of the future ? Instead of multiplying the billboards around town, brands will have come up with new ways of fitting into the inhabitants’ daily lives to better nourish their identities with human and environmental values. CSR transformed into Brand Social Responsibility will fully incorporate the brands’ DNA for a city that constantly serves its citizens.
An ordinary day in 2030
8:30 a.m.: Zoe leaves her apartment and sets off for work. As she is going downstairs she runs into Ben, Whole Foods Market food concierge. The building management has signed a contract with the store for it to maintain the building’s rooftop garden and then sell the fruit and vegetables in a shop on the ground floor. She greets Ben and reminds him that she’ll pick up her basket later.
Thanks to investments from Nike, the streets in her downtown neighbourhood are all pedestrian. So as soon as she is out of the building, Zoe puts on her running shoes for a quick jog along the tree-lined path maintained by Homebase.
In barely five minutes she reaches her neighborhood Living Center. This large building offers spaces for the surrounding inhabitants to enjoy social life. It’s a friendly meeting place where neighbours can get together. As she reaches the telecommuter premises equipped and run by LinkedIn, she walks by the association rooms created by the Credit Cooperative and decides to sign up for a drawing class that is being held in one of the rooms dedicated to cultural and creative activities hosted by Hobbycrafts. Thanks to investments from brands, activities once reserved for the affluent are now available to everyone.
Comfortably seated at her desk, Zoe’s morning at work as a communication consultant can now begin. Her job has changed radically in 15 years: invasive advertising campaigns are obsolete and brands have decided to invest their marketing budgets in developing free services that are useful to the community, which in turn contributes to their identity. Now consumption is part of a virtuous circle, a portion of the brand’s profits are reinvested in these services that improve citizens’ everyday lives and which Zoe helps define.
When she leaves work at 1 p.m., she hurries to her building to retrieve her Whole Foods basket before going to her favorite collaborative restaurant run by Maggi. There she prepares the contents of her basket with her girlfriends and shares a friendly lunch.
Brands put their efforts together for Nature’s benefit
After a good meal, Zoe enjoys a moment of relaxation in one of the “Time Out” areas made available by Bouygues Construction and Coca-Cola. With the aim of developing spaces for harmony and fulfillment within the city, these brands joined forces to let Nature take over here and there around the different neighbourhoods.
While browsing on her smartphone Zoe discovers that her favourite author is presenting his latest book in a few minutes at the local Foyles Starbucks Coffee shop and she decides to drop in. Each Starbucks outlet now has a theme and the neighbourhood was able to vote online to choose which one it would have. Each coffee shop then works with other brands to offer workshops and special events.
Before she leaves Starbucks, with the help of IBM Zoe calculates the quickest way to get to the hackathon held by the National Rail company to redo its Web site. In association with Barclays (which sponsors London Bikes), Blablacar and Transport of London among others, the app helps her find a private car going in the same direction and she signs onto the car-pool site. 5 minutes later she’s on her way.
After the event, Zoe decides to walk home using the tourist bridges set up by Mappy and Google that span the different neighbourhoods. She puts on her Google Contacts and discovers the history of the buildings she passes simply by staring for more than 3 seconds on the markers on the walls. On the way home she does some shopping at her local Exchange Center.
In what used to be a supermarket, are now a group of co-ops and an exchange center run by e-Bay.
Modern civilization often creates individualism and deep mal être.
It’s time to get back to a model that strives to “regenerate cities, restore a sense of solidarity and fellowship, and reconstruct education” as Edgar Morin put it. Citizens have already started the movement (FabLabs, CSA (community-supported agriculture), local currency, etc.) and all brands have to do is seize the opportunity to offer real services that improve people’s everyday lives. It will give brands recognition, real usefulness and, especially, the approval of their publics.