2020 Visions

2019 was an incredibly busy year for MerchantCantos. Boiling things down to numbers, we delivered 415 films, 35 websites & intranets, plus 21 reports. In total, we worked with 250 clients on projects that span our core disciplines of Investor Communications, Brand, Sustainability and Employee Engagement. Gratifyingly our efforts were also recognised with a plethora of awards, 43 in total. But it’s not all work, work, work – we celebrated two members of the team getting married (not to each other) and welcomed five mini-members of MerchantCantos to the world.

As we kick-off 2020 we asked our Partners to make some predictions for 2020. Here’s what they had to say:

What do you predict as the big trends for 2020?

Matt Shepherd-Smith, CEO

The marriage of data and creativity will get stronger. And I think confidence will return to many countries that have had an uncertain end to the decade. Optimism will rule, with budgets and bravery getting bolder.

Jarrad Comley, Partner, ECD

I think we’ll see a continuation of purpose-style campaigns. This ‘for good’ approach is slowly finding a home in corporate communications. Coupled with the corporate voice evolving to be more authentic and empathetic you can see that companies will be more active in talking about their role in the big issues in 2020.

James McCobb, Partner, Digital

Discussions around the emergence of Artificial Intelligence have been generating huge amounts of hot air for many years, and it has been accompanied by a great deal of what we call Vapourware in the digital industry… products that are promised, but never delivered. But this year I think we’re going to see the emergence of more and more real-life applications of AI, not all necessarily ‘big bang’ developments, but an increasing adoption of practical solutions that harness the potential.

How do you think the industry has changed over the last year? And did you detect any interesting new trends in 2019?

Matt Shepherd-Smith, CEO

The obvious answer is the growing importance of authenticity, integrity, diversity and inclusivity. I think we can also add creativity to that list, particularly in corporate communications.

Patrick Eastwood, Partner, Asia

Faster, more digital (and social), more collaboration and an explosion in short form film (a la TikTok).

Sonal R. Patel, Partner, Film

In addition to recognising a requirement to create bespoke, targeted content for social, we’ve seen our clients begin to fully embrace the campaign mindset, looking to achieve longer term gains in strategic storytelling, brand awareness and stakeholder connection.

Toby Low, Partner, Managing Director

There is a continued move towards social first. You can see the change from ‘let’s make a film and then reversion it for the social platforms’ to ‘let’s make this film for this social platform’.  I also think that clients are seeing the real value in using LinkedIn.

What’s inspired you in 2019?

Patrick Eastwood, Partner, Asia

The team in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is going through a period of significant disconnection and upheaval which has put a huge pressure on colleagues professionally and personally. Yet against a backdrop of continual demonstrations and conflict people have remained positive and focused. Kudos to them!

Keelin MacGreevy, Partner, COO

I’ve been inspired by the appetite I see across the agency to continually learn and develop. We have a high employee retention-rate but nobody is resting on their laurels – there’s a constant energy, commitment and buzz in our offices, which is essential because the industry we work in never stands still.

What’s your professional new year’s resolution?

Sonal R. Patel, Partner, Film

My professional New Year’s resolution is to work with more female directors and editors. I&D underpins our values at MerchantCantos and contributes to our great success. If we want to make better, more beautiful, authentic, interesting and relevant films, we need to keep working with a diverse set of creatives from all walks of life and from backgrounds.

Toby Low, Partner, Managing Director

I am really keen for our clients and potential clients to embrace a holistic approach to investor communications to ensure that all the comms that comes out around the investor story is coherent and has a common messaging and a common look and feel.

Jarrad Comley, Partner, ECD

As designers a lot of what we make adds to the excessive amounts of waste produced in the world – both in the physical and mental sense. It’s not just the landfill aspect, it’s also the ‘mindfill’. We simply make too much stuff! So, I want to focus on ways to bring efficiencies to my client’s communications and help reduce unnecessary and excessive noise.

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