Warc predicts key trends to shape global marketing strategies in 2024

By our News Team | 2023

Unlocking the potential of generative artificial intelligence, sportswashing concerns, and ‘the age of polarisation’ are all on the agenda.

The ‘Marketer’s Toolkit 2024’ released this week by the World Advertising Research Centre, commonly known as Warc, has identified several key trends that have reached an inflexion point and will shape global marketing strategies in the year ahead.


Now in its 13th year, the Toolkit explores factors such as socio-political polarisation, the potential of generative AI, sportswashing, and community-based sustainability. Some of the factors in more detail:

Marketing Trends

Being associated with sportswashing will be a growing concern for marketers in 2024. Photo credit: Adnen 1985 via Wikimedia Commons

Generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) has crossed the threshold from promise to practical deployment, overhauling media strategies and audience targeting. The year 2024 will see brands look to capitalise on the emergence of accessible Gen AI tools to experiment with creative development.


Nearly three-quarters (70%) of respondents to the Marketer’s Toolkit survey plan to unlock the potential of AI in their marketing, 12% of which will look to adopt the technology wherever they can and over half (58%) describe themselves as “cautiously progressive”, actively testing and evaluating Gen AI in marketing.


However, such opportunities come with potential risks including brand safety, copyright, sustainability and agency remuneration.


“The question is, how do you build [AI] into a scaled organisational competency? That is the obsession of every single day, every single week for the next 18 months. Because it’s a race you have to win,” says Jonathan Halvorson, who is Global SVP, Consumer Experience & Digital Commerce at Mondelēz.


Preparing for the age of polarisation


Political ideologies have become increasingly entrenched in marketing. However, with high-profile brands caught in the polarisation crossfire, there are signs of increased timidity regarding social causes.


While 76% of Marketer’s Toolkit respondents advise standing ground in the face of controversy, 13% pursue the path of least risk saying that the best strategy is to “drop all purpose-driven strategies and political positions.”


When addressing polarising issues, brands should examine their audience through cultural and demographic lenses, and scenario-plan against any potential fallout.


Sportswashing is a growing concern


In a fragmented media landscape, sports remain a natural passion point for brands to leverage. It delivers mass real-time audiences, yielding a growing competition for media rights, fresh content and sponsorship opportunities.


Critics allege this is resulting in the rise of ‘sportswashing’ whereby entities accused of a poor human rights track record invest in sports to bolster their reputation.


Of Marketer’s Toolkit respondents, 61% concur that it is “very important” for sports organisers and owners to avoid being politically divisive.


Opportunities for marketers include developing new content formats, engaging with growing sports and different communities, and data-driven insights to track performance and fan attitudes.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.