5 for 10

Ana Andjelic
7 min readJan 7, 2020

Science fiction writer Frederik Pohl said that a good science-fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam. This sentiment shapes the new decade, as we manage both the positive and the negative network externalities of our organizations, technologies, and behaviors, from climate crisis to sustainability standards to ethical, legal, and human benefits and fallouts of the new economic models.

Applied to marketing and brand strategy, the “traffic jam” approach means a shift from the short-term focus towards taking into account longer-term social, cultural, psychological, economic and political dimensions of our brand and marketing actions. For example, a successful strategy addresses collective versus individual dimensions of consumer behavior and asks what taste communities do their brand messages and actions target, and how. It considers different models of social influence, often working simultaneously. It addresses contradictions in modern culture and in consumer behavior. It designs for inversions of existing cultural trends. It also shields our planet and appeals to the better angels of our nature. It distinguishes between mood (emerging) and trends (already happening) and debunks the cult of innovation and newness in place of something more sustainable and worth maintaining.

Problems are inevitable, but problems are solvable, and solutions create new problems that can be solved in their turn, noted physicist David Deutsch. Here’s to dealing with traffic jams of the next ten years.

“Repeat This” Culture. Mimicry is the mechanism of cultural and commercial production and distribution. Trends and ideas spread top-down in the past, through gatekeepers like editors or programming directors. Now they spread laterally, through imitation. This dynamic is perfectly captured in TikTok, where short videos become memes become trends, on repeat. Instagram Face, Airspace, streambaits and clickbaits, and infinite reboots and sequels are also the examples, shaped by combination of algorithmic personalization and social feedback loops. Things become popular because a lot of people like them, and then get copied, reproduced, and memeified. Just like with crickets or…

Ana Andjelic

Brand Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Writer of “Sociology of Business.” Forbes most influential CMO.