21st Century Brands



This week, we look at 21st Century Brands.

Only 14 years into a new era, and it's astounding to look at all the new brands and categories that have changed our world. Companies that have market values greater than 100 year-old companies, six-year old gadgets that rule our lives, and brand new product categories that demand unprecedented marketing strategies - all of which creates a list of 20th century products that are quietly disappearing. It's eye-opening when you take stock.

In 1962, a new Hanna-Barbara cartoon premiered.

It was called The Jetsons, and it was about a space-aged family who lived... in the 21st century...


The Jetsons became synonymous with the future.
Source: YouTube

No doubt inspired by John Glenn's first orbit of the Earth seven months earlier in February of 1962, The Jetsons lived in Orbit City in the year 2062.

George Jetson worked at Spacely Space Sprockets, where he worked an R.U.D.I. computer. His boss, Cosmo Spacely, started his company, according to the cartoon's back-story - I kid you not - in Newfoundland - where it prospered until massive surface pollution necessitated a move to elevated platforms in space.

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The Jetsons had many gadgets that foretold the future.
Source: freshome.com

The series had lots of interesting futuristic devices that marveled us back in the 60s. In episode one, we see wife Jane doing exercises in front of a flatscreen "3D" television.

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Jane Jetson enjoys her futuristic flatscreen TV.
Source: smithsonianmag.com

In another episode, we see George Jetson reading the newspaper on a screen. Can anyone say tablet?

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George Jetson reads the newspaper on a tablet-like screen.
Source: smithsonianmag.com

In another, Boss Spacely tells George to fix something called a "computer virus."

Everyone on the show uses video chat, foreshadowing Skype and Face Time.

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Video chat was all the rage on the Jetsons.
Source: freedom-mobile.com

There is a robot vacuum cleaner, foretelling the 2002 arrival of the iRobot Roomba vacuum.

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Rosie the robot cleans house.
Source: robots-and-androids.com

There was also a tanning bed used in an episode, a product that wasn't introduced to North America until 1979.

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If you look closely, you'll see the settings on his tanning bed include "Miami" and "Riviera."
Source: techvert.com

And while flying space cars that have yet to land in our lives, the Jetsons show had moving sidewalks like we now have in airports, treadmills that didn't hit the consumer market until 1969, and they had a repairman who had a piece of technology called... Mac.

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Exercising the dog on a futuristic treadmill.
Source: warnerbros.com

The program was ahead of its time in more ways than one, as it was the first television series to be broadcast in colour on the ABC network, at a time when only 3% of the public had colour television sets.

Many people are surprised to learn the The Jetsons only lasted one season, with just 24 episodes.

While it was revived briefly in the 80s, it was the original 1962-63 season that has made the term "Jetsons" synonymous with "the future" to this day.

And here we are in the 21st century already. While it's still early days, the amount of change this century has brought to our lives is staggering.

The digital era has seen the creation of new sectors, new companies, new media and new brands.

These sea-changes mean marketers and their advertising agencies have had to learn a new language, navigate new mediums and then learn to interact with their customers in completely new and unprecedented ways.

And when you take the time to take stock, the list of 21st century brands is remarkable...

This century is a teenager.

It is in that awkward, pimply, too young to drive, too old to play with toys, a bit young to date, slightly rebellious, growth-spurt stage.

Yet, if you look at what the 21st century has achieved already, it's staggering.

Recently, at a conference, Google co-founder Larry Page said he believed his company - and the broader tech industry at large - has only achieved less than 1% of what is possible in the digital age.

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Google co-founder Larry Page.
Source: mshcdn.com

Quite the statement, all things considered.

While it's hard to pinpoint the exact date the modern Internet came into being, it's safe to say it was sometime in the mid-1980s.

It took 22 years to get the first two billion people online. It will take less than five to get the next two billion - and most of those will arrive via mobile phones.

Which brings us to the first product on our list of 21st century brands...

Think about how many ways smartphones have changed your life.

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Hard to imagine life without smartphones now.
Source: youservices.co.uk

In your hand is not just a phone, but an email device, a texting tool, an internet browser, a camera, a video camera, a photo library, an entire music collection, a calendar, a clock, a calculator, a weather forecast, a flashlight and an address book.

And that doesn't even begin to include the features Apps bring you.

That small, thin smartphone we all take for granted now is nothing short of mind-boggling.

Now - let's take a moment to remember how long these game-changers have been in our possession.

In North America, the first convergent Blackberry phone hit the market back in 2003. It offered push email, mobile phone, text messaging, Internet faxing, and web browsing.

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The Crackberry redefined the phone.
Source: dialaphone.co.uk

That means the "crackberry," the first smartphone that most of us got our hands on - is only 11 years old.

But if you prefer the Apple iPhone - the one-button smartphone breakthrough - it was introduced... in 2007.

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The iPhone appeared only seven years ago.
Source: pcmag.com

Making it a spanking... seven years old.

It's hard to believe it's that recent an addition to our lives. Considering how many iPhone models you've probably owned already.

It also swallowed up the iPod - which is only 13 years old - allowing people to have thousands of songs on their phones, without needing two devices.

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The iPhone cannibalized iPod sales.
Source: kottke.com

The ubiquity of mobile phones has caused many ramifications.

For starters, phone booths are rapidly disappearing.

The first phone booth popped up in the 1880s, then peaked around 1995 with just under 3 million booths dotting North America.

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The mobile phone killed the phone booth (seen here as a nifty phone cover).
Source: etsystatic.com

Today, there are less than 500,000 and falling.

Which begs the question - what is poor Superman to do?

AT&T in the States has asked FCC permission to stop allowing people to sign up for landlines.

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If phone companies have their way, there will be no more landlines in the near future.
Source: geekalerts.com

According to one report, over 50% of American households either didn't have a landline, or didn't use one, in 2012.

In Canada, 83% of homes still have a landline, but by the end of 2014, 26% of Canadian households will have cut their cord.

Yes, landlines are slowly going the way of the telephone booth.

Sorry, Supe.

But I do have a Superman app.

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Of course Superman has an app. He's Superman.
Source: blogspot.com

With the emergence of smart-phones, came Apps.

App stores, as we know them, started appearing around 2002 when Linux introduced Click'NRun, but the first big hit was the Apple App Store.

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The Apple App Store is only six years old.
Source: wikimedia.org

It has been with us since... 2008. Making it a spritely six years old. Beginning with 500 apps, it offers over 850,000 today. Apple announced its 50 billionth app download in May of 2013.


The countdown to Apple's 50 billionth app download.
Source: YouTube

The Android Market, now known as Google Play, also began offering apps in 2008, and Blackberry's App World began the following year.

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Google and Blackberry apps have been available for about six years.
Source: mobilesyrup.com

There is an app for almost anything now, and marketers have had to learn how to develop apps for their brands. Many of which allow you to purchase products right on your phone, like Amazon and eBay. Or if you want to find the closest Tim Hortons location, you can just Timmy Me.

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Need a double double? Use your Timmy Me app.
Source: littlepeach.ca

The top app category?

Games - by a looong shot. 74% of Apple's App Store revenues, 61% of Amazon's, and over 90% of Google Play revenues are from game apps.

All other categories like entertainment, photos and social networking are way behind in single digit territory.

By the way, 350,000 apps are made specifically for tablets.

Tablet computers first made headway around 2005 when Nokia introduced its 770 model, calling it an "Internet Tablet." An Android-based tablet appeared in 2009, but it was the Apple iPad that made tablets go mainstream in 2010.

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The iPad has only been available since 2010.
Source: thetechpanda.com

Making your iPad a bright-eyed four-year old.

330,000 iPads were sold on the first day. One month later, sales hit a million.

By 2015, tablet computers like the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy and the Android Tablet will outsell PCs for the very first time ever.

How far we've come in just a few short years.

Tablet computing also created another 21st century invention:

The E-reader.

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The E-Reader changed the book, newspaper and magazine industries forever.
Source: gastronuro.com

The Sony Reader first went on sale in North America in 2006.

It introduced a new word to our vocabulary - e-books - and allowed people to download hundreds of titles onto a single slim tablet.

The next year, Amazon released the Kindle.

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The Kindle went on sale in 2007.
Source: telegraph.co.uk

It allowed shoppers to download up to 200 books without a traditional computer, onto a device that only weighed 10 ounces.

In 2010, the Kobo was launched. It was priced $100 dollars less than the Kindle, but Amazon responded by dramatically lowering its price.

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"Kobo" is an anagram of the word "book."
Source: cbsi.com

That year, the Kindle accounted for almost 60% of all e-readers sold, and in 2011, Amazon stated it was selling 115 Kindle e-books for every 100 paperbacks.

It was a breakthrough for readers, a stone in the shoe of booksellers everywhere, and a thorny problem for newspaper and magazine companies to monetize.

E-readers sales peaked in 2011, with sales dipping 28% in 2012, as lighter tablets have started to replace them.

But what a revolution we've experienced in just seven years.

May we take this moment to say Happy Birthday to YouTube - the site just turned nine years old in April.

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If YouTube was a person, it would be in grade four.
Source: mahercomm.com

It those short years, it has amassed over one billion users, over four billion videos are viewed every day and over 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

It became a new medium for marketers, with viral videos turning into a familiar request in many advertising strategies. Total amount spent by advertisers on YouTube last year: $5.6 billion.

Not bad pocket change for a nine-year old.

Happy Birthday to Facebook.

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Facebook just turned 10 years old.
Source: glideinteractive.com

In its short decade of existence, Facebook has attracted 1.2 billion users.

Facebook has also become indispensible to marketers. 16 million local business pages were created in 2013 - a 100% increase over the year before.

Brands create fan pages on Facebook and constantly try to figure out how to transform "likes" into purchases. By the way, over 4.5 billion "likes" are posted on Facebook every day.

The site generated $7.9 billion in revenues last year, up 55%. And most of that came from advertisers.

Happy Birthday to Twitter.

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Twitter was hatched in 2006.
Source: girlguides.com

The original name was to be Jitter, but it felt too caffeinated, so one of the founders suggested a name that rhymed.

The Twitter domain name was originally owned by a bird enthusiast, but the social media site eventually made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Back in 2006, the standard limit for a text was 160 characters. So the founders decided to leave 15 characters for user names, which left 145 characters free. So they just rounded that off to 140.

That restriction became PR-bait, as journalists were fascinated by the mysterious 140 limitation.

By the way, a "twoosh" is a tweet that uses all 140 characters, and the word "tweet" was coined by users, not by Twitter - they just picked up on it.

It initially shocked Twitter that celebrities wanted Twitter accounts - thinking that limited access was the key to celebrity. But as Twitter came to realize, celebrities loved the fact they could circumvent studios and agents - and wanted direct access to fans.

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Twitter was surprised to learn that celebrities wanted more access to fans.
Source: popgoestheweek.com

Twitter also lets customers communicate directly with advertisers - putting their grievances right out there in public, allowing everyone see how the company replies.

As of this writing, Twitter has over 645 million users sending out 58 million tweets a day. Many of those are from advertisers sending out "promoted tweets" by targeting keywords, gender, interests, geography and even devices.

And 90% of Twitter's revenues come from those advertisers.

Happy birthday to Instagram.

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Instagram is still in its diaper years.
Source: digitaltrends.com

It's 3 ½ years old.

It was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion dollars - when Instagram was only two years old.

Happy Birthday to the PVR, or DVR, if you prefer.

It just turned 13 years old in Canada, and kicked the VCR into the trash bin of ancient history.

This 21st century innovation has become an advertiser's worst nightmare, as ad-avoidance technology allows people to zoom through commercials at lightening speeds.

In February of 2013, Netflix introduced us to a new word - binge-viewing.

It released its first original tv series called House of Cards, and in a highly unusual move, Netflix released the entire 13-episode season all at once.


House of Cards introduced us to the concept of binge-viewing.
Source: YouTube

Many viewers took that opportunity to binge-view the entire season in just a few days.

Netflix and other streaming services have altered the media universe in many other unforeseen ways.

  • First, large quantities of TV and movie content became available to viewers at the click of a button - which was way cheaper than buying a DVD box-set.
  • Viewers didn't need a cable or satellite subscription for Netflix - they just needed an Internet connection.
  • Netflix affected the way writers and producers created programs, too. The shows could now have a different rhythm, as there were no commercial breaks. Binge-viewing meant there didn't have to be a big cliff-hanger teaser to keep people interested over the course of a week.
  • And the shows didn't have to be approved with advertiser's sensibilities in mind - because Netflix is commercial free.
  • It's the start of a very different world in TV, as new methods of media consumption are pulling viewers from network TV, and from movie theatres, too.


Obi-Wan feels the shift in movie audiences.
Source: YouTube

You are correct, Obi-Wan.

According to the LA Times, 100 million fewer people went to the movies last year, falling to a 16-year low.

Some analysts even predict that movie-going will go the way of Broadway - and become an increasingly marquee, premium-event experience only.

Other staples of the 20th century are also quietly disappearing...

Fading away are video rental stores, fold-out maps, encyclopedias and Yellow Page phone books.

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Video stores have now faded to black.
Source: studentsforliberty.com

Even the battery business is struggling because so many of our 21st century devices are now re-chargeable.

And 2011 marked the year when manufacturers stopped offering cassette players as an option in cars.

Another standard feature cars don't have anymore is ashtrays. Which brings us to another 21st century product:

E-cigarettes.


Tobacco companies return to television for the first time since 1971.
Source: YouTube

First marketed in mall kiosks in 2006, e-cigarettes are now advertised on television.

It's an interesting development, as each of the big three tobacco companies now have e-cigarette brands, like Clearette, Blu, and NJoy.

Marking the first return of big tobacco to the airwaves since its ban in 1971.

e-cigarettes have created a lot of controversy since their arrival, as debate rages over whether they are a smoking cessation product, or a gateway back to smoking.

Speaking of sparking one up, a new commercial hit YouTube in March. It showed a shady guy trying to sell sushi in back alleys, but it wasn't really a sushi ad...


Now advertising agency copywriters can do product research on company time.
Source: YouTube

While this marijuana commercial was turned down from running on network television, it may not be long before we see this brand new category hit the airwaves.

And lastly, speaking of television, let's talk about reality TV in the 21st century.

Specifically, the reality show that broke all viewing records.

Duck Dynasty.


Duck Dynasty is a 21st century phenomenon as the most watched non-scripted show in cable TV history.
Source: YouTube

The show, which runs on A&E, is based on the Robertson family of Louisiana, who manufacture a duck call made out of cedar - that made them millionaires.

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The cedar duck calls that made the Robertson's rich.
Source: simplyyouthministry.com

Season One debuted in Spring of 2012 and attracted 1.8 million viewers. Season two attracted 3.7 million. The season three premiere jumped to 8.6 million, and the Season four premiere was watched by an astounding 11.7 million viewers.

That makes Duck Dynasty not only the most watched reality show in A&E's history, but the most watched non-fiction program in cable TV history, attracting over $80 million in advertising dollars.

Last year alone, over 1,200 Duck Dynasty branded products generated over $400 million dollars in revenue.

Walmart accounts for 50% of those sales, and reported that their best-selling piece of apparel - for men, women and children - across every category in 2012 - was the Duck Dynasty T-shirt.

While ratings slipped after family patriarch Phil Robertson made anti-gay remarks to GQ Magazine and during a religious service recently, the show still pulls in millions of viewers.

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Patriarch Phil Robertson's views on the gay community have started to affect his show's historic ratings.
Source: hollyscoop.com

The heavily-bearded Robertsons also put out a Christmas album, entitled "Duck The Halls" with the hit single "Hairy Christmas..."

The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, went to #1 on the country charts, and was the #1 holiday album of 2013.

It's a 21st century phenomenon built on the back of one of the oldest old-school products around - the duck call...

The 21st century is no slouch.

When you look back on that partial list of new brands and new categories, it has been an astounding 14 years.

While it's an exciting time to be in marketing, it's also a bit of a rubik's cube.

How does a brand sell in social media - where the emphasis is on "social" not media.

And it's already become quaint to say there is a "second screen" experience available now, because from my vantage point, we've already moved into a five-screen world and counting:

With PCs.
Smartphones.
Tablets.
TVs.
Touch screens in cars.
And coming soon to a limb near you - wearables - like Googleglass and Smartwatches.

And that doesn't include the Internet of Things - where your fridge will suggest recipes based on its contents, email them to you, then communicate with your stove.

It's not coming - it's here.

The 21st century is an exciting, sweaty time for brands, as they get their share of aerobic exercise just trying to keep up with all the options.

It's also scary - as companies tremble at the thought of tinkerers in a garage somewhere inventing the next app that will put them out of business.

But that's the cost of doing business in the Jetson era...

...when you're under the influence.

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