Which creative trends will drive results for marketers in 2022?

Garth Williamson
By Garth Williamson | 24 February 2022
Garth Williamson.

Garth Williamson, ANZ Country Manager, Shutterstock

Many Australians have become all too familiar with the feeling of losing track of time and space thanks to the pandemic—as each day spent under some form of lockdown restrictions highlighted that the costs, impact and changes of the past year are no longer “new,” but seem to be lasting instead.

For Australian marketers, it’s no longer about putting things behind us but rather about learning and reflecting on how to best create meaningful experiences with our investments. The world has changed socially, but it has also shifted through accelerated innovation in platforms, tools, and insight capabilities that are now readily accessible. However, where does this leave marketers, and what creative trends do they need to be ahead of as we adjust to the new normal?

With the online experience dominating sectors such as retail, finance and education, the creative industry spends millions on martech each year as pressure mounts on creatives to produce and promote more content than ever to cut through the noise. However, as marketers focus and invest in getting content in front of audiences, promoting it, and optimizing it, few are considering if it is the right content to begin with.

Where the industry is experiencing an accelerated innovation of platforms, tools, and insight capabilities, artificial intelligence is completely reshaping the creative workflow. Now, by incorporating data-driven insights and trends into every process, marketers and creatives can uncover the best and highest-performing content and trends.

Shutterstock's annual 2022 Creative Trends Report has been released, utilising Shutterstock's sophisticatedShutterstock.AI platform to identify patterns in search data with real-time analytics of what content is high-performing and popular.

The report has revealed that creatives should look to new realms, eras, and possibilities to guide their decision-making. The report analysed user search and performance data topredictthe state of the creative landscape andpinpoint what content will drive the highest engagement. The report revealed that two unique themes, time and space, will dominate marketing and creative outputs—and will do so through six creative trends.

Six trends defining 2022’s creative landscape

At a local level, the theme of ‘space’ will materialise in a very literal way, with Australia’s top creative trend for 2022 being Celestial. More broadly speaking, the trends that will define creative expression and increase marketing performance in 2022 include:

  1. Fantastic (14th Century - that’s the 1300s): Riding the coattails of globally popular medieval sagas such as Game of Thrones and The Witcher, marketers and creatives are revisiting the Middle Ages—search keywords such as medieval buildingand vintage shield have grown in popularity, where content featuring goblets and castles, for example, receives the most clicks.
  2. The Macabre (Modern Era): Genres of horror and thriller have made a comeback, with dystopian and post-apocalyptic futures themed content growing in search popularity; in fact, Australia’s second most popular search term was Grim Reaper.
  3. Way Out West (18th - 19th Century – that's the 1700s and 1800s): The wild west and cowboy culture has made a major comeback according to the data—for example, searches for wild horses rose by a whopping 1961%.
  4. On The Road Again (Modern Era): The urge to travel, made insatiable by pandemic-induced restrictions, drove mammoth increases in searches for bikes on the road (+14911%) and roads to mountain (+5763%), as content featuring luggage and mountain ranges garnered the most clicks.
  5. Cyberpunk Is Not Dead (2100s): Working in a world that is in a state of constant technical innovation, it’s unsurprising that high-tech aesthetics such as nocturnal cityscapes and woman avatars are popular amongst creatives and that content featuring electrical outlets, webcams, and LED is driving clicks.
  6. What’s Cookin’ (Modern Era): Being stuck at home saw people get creative in the kitchen, finding inspiration in regional specialties as searches for ingredients such as Porcini and dishes such as Takoyaki rose—all while pretzel and cupcake content received the most clicks.

How can marketers bring these trends to life?

The creative process is organic, inspired by the unique experiences of each contributing marketer and creative. Therefore, these findings don’t need to be leveraged in a way that restricts or governs campaigns and projects.

Instead, we encourage marketers and creatives to consider these data-led insights ahead of making decisions—whether those be about the broader theme and creative direction, or which specific content pieces are to be used—as they indicate what will drive clicks and increase campaign and project performance.

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