Contributor Tips, Inspiration

Gathering Intelligence: How to Stay on Top of Creative Trends


Understanding what consumers are purchasing and the creative trends that support the messaging behind those products and services is crucial to ensuring that your production efforts are not in vain. Studying advertising trends is an important part of my job, and has been for the last 25 years. There was a time when I was just as glued to the commercials as the programs they were spliced into, and while it’s been years since I’ve had a cable subscription, there are plenty of alternative resources to pacify that commercial fix.

Man Looking Thoughtfully at Light Bulb by rubberball

Keep Your Hand Off the Remote

If you’re watching live TV, it’s almost a natural reflex to flip the channel and surf. Fight the urge to switch channels, because even the most uninspired spots can tell you a lot about consumer and visual trends. Commercials are our best insight into our strongest primary visual categories such as lifestyle, business, sports, healthcare, and travel.

Take the time to analyze a commercial for casting, locations, styling, props, and technologies. Take a deeper dive by analyzing the commercial’s color grading or “look,” or even the ratio between commercials shot in real time or slow-motion. Test your skills by finding the overriding concept(s) beneath the imagery. Finally, ask yourself if your clips can fit seamlessly into any of the commercials you’re watching. This will pay dividends not only in guiding you toward what’s trending, but also what isn’t, which is equally important when you’re planning your next shoot.

Couple Fighting Over a Remote by york23

Rip And Tear

Like commercials, print campaigns represent an invaluable tool for building a more focused content strategy, exposing you to creative trends. I hit the newsstands and magazine shops regularly for articles and images that can inspire or fuel an idea that’s consistent with a shoot that I’m exploring. If it’s a well-stocked shop, you can browse through international publications to get a pulse on global trends. Tacking and taping your tear-outs on the wall will keep you focused on your idea and your thought process.

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Luezers Archive is a must-have for anyone interested in the best global print and commercial campaigns. Taking digital images from the internet serves the same purpose as the analog approach, and it’s less expensive and a lot better for the environment, but I still like the tactile sense of flipping through magazines, feeling the paper and inhaling the ink. If you’re ever in New York, I recommend that you pay a visit to Printed Matter for inspiration, ideas, and an assault on your senses.

Businesswoman Brainstorming With Her Team by fsuffert

Trend Reports

A good trend report published by a reputable source can cost thousands of dollars. Often, however, these companies will pepper their offerings with a few freebies. The Innovation Group at JWT is a prime example of a source with superlative trend information. TrendWatching is another source that I rely on to keep me up to date on consumer trends and forecasts.

Businesswoman Using a Digital Tablet While Having Breakfast by imagesource1

Competitive Analysis

Amassing as much intelligence as you can before you start shooting is the key to a successful collection. I strongly suggest that you analyze the primary subject categories at Pond5 and the competition.

We also take it a step further by providing a dropdown filter for the most popular clips. The idea behind providing this information is not so that you can copy popular work, but to encourage you to use your own style to recreate a top-selling concept.

Top image: Man on Sofa With Television Remote by rubberball

What do you do to ensure the relevancy of your media and make sure it gets discovered? Tell us in the comments!