Sepia photographs passed down from generation to generation are a thing of the past. We live in the age of Snapchat, where our recorded experiences are fleeting, made to disappear after just several seconds. So it follows naturally that the world we live in itself becomes more ephemeral. Experiences, advertisements, even buildings themselves are intentionally made not to last.
All manner of ephemeral experiences are quickly becoming the new normal. Pop-up shops and surprise shows abound. One-off events are everywhere. Even our favorite eateries disappear at the end of the night. Once we all got smartphones in our hands, ephemerality became inevitable—the average attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. The faster that brands can adapt to this fast-changing world, the better positioned they’ll be for success in it.
Advertising experiences have always been, by nature, ephemeral. A 30-second spot on television, perhaps, 60 seconds on the radio, and that’s it. Occasionally a company will strike gold and give us something lasts much longer (hello, Most Interesting Man, and alas, goodbye), but those types of campaigns are the exception to the rule.
Go Sport, a sports equipment retailer based in France, devised an ingenious way to create ephemeral advertisements during UEFA Champions League matches this spring. For their ‘Champions Hijack’ campaign, Go Sport took real-time game footage and digitally removed everything but the equipment a player was wearing—leaving just cleats and a uniform, for example. They then used that altered image as an advertisement for that particular equipment in the following day’s paper. Sales jumped 25% in the weeks that the campaign ran.
This trend doesn’t just refer to a short-lived event or advertisement, however. Today, even physical buildings can be ephemeral. In Rio, for this summer’s Olympics, ‘nomadic infrastructure’ (also known as ‘temporary architecture’) took center stage. Recognizing that a great deal of Olympic venues go unused after closing ceremonies, Rio 2016’s Future Arena—a 12,000-seat venue that hosted handball and volleyball—is being turned into a school building that will house classrooms for 2,000 students. A similar initiative is underway at Rio’s Aquatic Stadium.
So, while yes, our experiences and even infrastructure grow more ephemeral, in some instances this is done with the longer-term future in mind. It was never really the sepia photograph that mattered anyway, but the feelings that it evoked.
Trends inspired by trendwatching.com/premium