What can Back to the Future II tell us about marketing in 2015?

Posted on

It's 2015, and you know what that means. You can throw on your auto-drying jacket, power-lace your shoes and jump on your hoverboard - because the future has finally arrived.

But what's this? Where are the flying DeLoreans? The automatic dog walkers? The dehydrated pizzas? It doesn't take a genius like Doc Brown to realise something is amiss.

bttf2-main.jpgBack to the Future: So what went wrong?

Notwithstanding the many blessings of the digital age, it seems technological innovation is running a little behind schedule.

By this point, you'll either be nodding wildly in appreciation, or feeling as confused as Biff Tannen, flat-out on his back at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

If it's the latter, then make like a tree and get outta here.

Because we're talking 'Back to the Future II' - the cult 80s classic; one of the best-loved film sequels of all time.

And herein lies the problem. Having set out its grand vision for the world of 2015, the sci-fi genre has once again created false hope and expectation.

Rather than cruising the skyways to work each morning, we still find ourselves stuck in traffic jams or being crushed on the Tube.

And in the absence of time-travelling capability, or a suitable rock to crawl under, we're stuck in our own dystopian reality for the foreseeable future.

In the words of Marty McFly, this is heavy.


Coping with disappointment

So then, what should be our response? Stay at home and sulk until things get better?

Perhaps, rather than cursing general relativity and the absence of the Flux Capacitor, we should focus on the positives - since there are many of them.

Just think about what life was like in 1985 - before Michael J Fox became a guitar god (although technically that was the mid-50s) and Christopher Lloyd an icon of style. It was an altogether different world.

Even the most imaginative of Hollywood scriptwriters would have struggled to conceive the real-life advances of the last three decades, or their dramatic impacts on our daily lives.

We might not have anti-gravity technology yet, but the internet is a pretty good start.

Global connectivity has pretty much torn up the rule book on communication, commerce and social interaction, changing our lives in unimaginable ways.

Take this blog for instance. The fact it even exists - online, available to anyone, at any time, in any place - shows how far we have come in a short space of time.

If you rewind 30 years, to when the national papers were king and 'Fleet Street' was actually still on Fleet Street, things were very different.

The news barons set the agenda, meaning ordinary writers - even those with extraordinary ideas - struggled to have any sort of real voice, beyond the realm of the underground fanzine.

The same applied to businesses trying to build their brands. To make your company heard, you needed cash, influence, gimmicks and often a wad of cash.

Small companies with limited budgets knew their place. They were for local people in local communities, certainly not for the global masses.

Back to the Future


But the web has changed everything. It's no longer just the Murdochs and Maxwells of this world, through the proxy of their smoky newsrooms, calling the shots.

Anyone, anywhere, can find an audience and make an impact, thanks to social channels, search, content marketing and the unstoppable force of viral.

On a neutral web, each message lives and dies by its own merits.

If you could travel back to 1985 and tell people about this, what might be their response?

The struggling shop owner, the aspirational Yuppie, the hard-up student, the striking miner - any one of them could have worked wonders with a website, blog or a Twitter profile.

But if you told them about the web and its endless possibilities, they probably wouldn't believe you.

Of course, there's plenty more they would struggle to believe.

That Wimbledon had won an FA Cup for instance, or even more curiously, that we'd had a British winner at Wimbledon.

So keep your 'Grays Sports Almanac' close to your chest - that's our advice. It might just come in handy in the future, or perhaps more accurately, the past.

What to the experts think 2015 will hold?

Read More