2016, and the winners are…

Ginkgo biloba leaves isolated on white

There’s plenty to knock 2016 for.

For many 2016 was the year the music died with Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, Glenn Frey, Viola Beach and Craig “Gilly” Gill from the Inspiral Carpets all passing away.  Sporting legends Arnold Palmer and “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali also left us, along with screen icons Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman and literary great Harper Lee…and many more.


There was Brexit and Trump and most recently the tragic plane crash involving the Brazilian football team Chapecoense.

However, 2016 has been a great year for many others.  So just who has 2016 been a great year for from a marketing/business perspective:


You’d be within your rights to notch 2016 up as the year of the underdog.  Leicester City’s Premier League triumph, the Chicago Cubs breaking a 108-year wait for the World Series, Iceland and Wales in the Euro’s, Danny Willet in the US Masters golf all gave the sporting year an underdog feel, whilst in politics both Brexit and to some extent Trump’s election were certainly unexpected victories.


All of them reinforce that your marketing campaigns or business don’t always need to be the biggest and best, and there are no guarantees in either arena.  Hard work, clear strategies, identifying the emotional hook and a sprinkling of stardust can gain you significant victories, something to consider for 2017.

“Funny Content Producers”

It didn’t take long for the spoofs of the John Lewis Christmas ad to make their mark in hilarious fashion.  Various Game of Thrones clips became the gifs or meme’s of legend, and an unlikely comedy great was born from a Chewbacca mask.  It all goes to show that as a species that funny bone of ours is a vital component to our wellbeing.


The growth of simple editing and design software along with exceptional devices means that a whole wealth of images and footage is waiting out there for amateur humourists to make their mark.  You know what, people like to laugh, “funny” is engaging and unifying.  So when you’re considering your marketing, be the Joker…ask yourself “Why so serious?”.

Team GB

I waited for point three to mention this but it is without doubt one of the best things to happen in 2016.  The performance of Team GB at the Rio Olympics captured the nation in a way no one considered possible after the 2012 London games.  Individuals excelled, teams such as the GB Hockey ladies took us to whole new levels of emotion and new stars such as Sophie Hitchon emerged.  That was before the Paralympian athletes showed us all just what is possible when you believe you can do it, they were superhuman.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Prime Minister David Cameron, the Princess Royal and Mayor of London Boris Johnson address Team GB during the Olympics & Paralympics Team GB London 2012 Victory Parade on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

It was also a triumph for the Team GB brand, clever use of social media, effective partnership with sponsors and a whole new level of “Cool Britannia” with the hero’s of 2016 firmly at the heart of it.

Water-cooler TV Series

From the moment Jon Snow (GOT spoiler alert!) gasped his first resurrection breath, 2016 was only going to give us even more moments to talk around the water-cooler about.  Only we don’t always talk about them around the water-cooler anymore.


Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram are often the first place we turn to, as the UK has gone all “Gogglebox”.  No longer are we content with discussing the stunning sequence we saw on Planet Earth 2 with our colleagues, we must first film ourselves reacting, meme ourselves, emotionally prostitute ourselves (being sure to use the hashtag to find likeminded souls) to share the laughter, sadness, pain, shock and awe that some fantastic TV has given us this year.

Whatever your view of TV, the way each series has embraced social media this year has helped create the kind of publicity that conventional advertising just couldn’t compete with.  OK, these series have the might of a HBO, BBC, Sky or ITV behind it, but there’s lessons to be learned for all of us in creating conversations with our key targets.  Creating something for your business that gives your targets a worthwhile thing to talk about is a great start.

Smart Phone TV

Following on from point two, 2016 was certainly a year that smart phones allowed users to become mini TV channels of their own.  We aren’t just talking about consuming TV/video on phones and mobile devices, this year more than ever our devices are allowing us to become broadcasters in our own right.


So sophisticated and top quality have our devices become in producing video (see Apple’s “filmed on iPhone” ads as an example) that it is possible to produce cinema quality shoots with little more than your phone.  Coupled with this the rise of Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat and Instagram stories and it’s easy to see why you could dub 2016 the year “T-Me” channels took a grip.

All you really need is a focused, creative idea to make the most of this for your own marketing needs.

Subscription Shopping

You may have heard of One Dollar shave club.  The company exploded onto the scene in 2012, using very very clever YouTube content now accounts for around 51% of the online shaving market in the USA and 5% of the overall market.  Behemoth shave company Gillette only has 21% of the online shaving market and has seen its overall market share fall from 71% in 2010 to 59% in 2015.

Subscription shopping is becoming very big business, helped by the increasing reliability of delivery firms.  Other businesses like Craft Gin Club, Graze and local “box” delivery companies give reliability and play to our inherent lazy natures, whilst at the same time feeding our needs to “find” the unusual.  Subscription shopping is fast becoming the Tupperware party for the new millennium.



The beauty is when you get the offer, the product and the reliability right, your customers become your biggest and best salesforce increasing subscriptions exponentially.

Even if you can’t create subscriptions, finding a way to engage the customers you work so hard to acquire so they become your best salespeople must be worth a shot.

2016 may not have been a great year unless you happened to have started an online radio station that only plays songs by dead artists…but it’s still given us moments of joy and plenty of lessons to improve ourselves.  Roll on 2017!

Simon Brooke is a Director and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk or tweet us @Happy_Creative

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2016, and the winners are…
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