A deep dive into season 3 of Mindshare's 'Media Dystopia'

The GroupM agency launched its final six episodes at CES.

After two successful seasons, Mindshare has released the last six episodes of its "Media Dystopia" series, a show that takes an in-depth look at the potential fate of media today based on technologies, trends and consumer behaviors.

Inspired by shows like Netflix’s "Black Mirror," the series finale shines a light on media hypotheses, from the authenticity of influencers and algorithm bias to the rise of print and the shift of pricing power to consumers.

"Like the last two seasons, there’s a lot here for brands and marketers to consider," said Adam Gerhart, U.S. CEO of Mindshare. "We launch ‘Media Dystopia’ at the beginning of CES because it sets the stage for the innovations and future-forward thinking our clients will see at the show."

He added: "But instead of focusing on just the tech or the new shiny objects, ‘Media Dystopia’ takes us through the applications and implications this kind of technology has for the future of media. In fact, I’d actually argue that CES itself has moved away from being a hardware show a few years ago, to one that’s more focused about application – this year the big themes are very much about things like privacy and permission."

On Wednesday and Thursday of CES, Mindshare did customized workshops and floor tours for clients about ‘Media Dystopia,’ specifically around how each episode could pertain to their businesses.

Media Dystopia was created by Invention+, Mindshare North America’s media-as-creative team.

Previous episodes from seasons one and two have helped both the agency and clients, leading to important conversations as well as the launch of new products and capabilities.

Gerhart said last year’s "Sound as the Savior" episode led a number of clients to look more deeply at opportunities in audio and podcasting. "The research that went into this episode also helped inspire the first big study that our NeuroLab did when it launched, about the power of sound – an offering which is now available to all our clients," he said.

See below for a description of each season 3 episode and what brands can do to prepare for these possible dystopian futures.


Episode 1: Just What I Needed
Snapshot of this future: In 2026, HBO announces "Game of Thrones: Fan Edition"—a remade final season based on fan fiction.

How can brands prepare?

- Start to place bets at both ends of the content spectrum – both big and small.
- Explore how to patronize content creators to create real value for niche fans.
- For products themselves, re-build your innovation & supply chain pipeline to be able to deliver against made-to-order demands from consumers. Get good at listening.
- Find ways to create alternate versions through branded content.

Episode 2: On the Basis of Code

Snapshot for the future: In 2027, an advertiser is sued by the ACLU for buying ads that inadvertently discriminate against women of color.

How can brands prepare?

- Diversity of people – everywhere. Especially in tech roles.
- Be critical about the data you’re using, how you’re using it, and what factors are really important.
- Buy behaviors—not audiences. Think less about the confines of demographics and more about behaviors.
- Re-evaluate your keyword block lists to understand what unconscious bias might be infiltrating that.

Episode 3: The Price is Might

Snapshot of this future: In 2028, Kohl’s, Target, and Best Buy all open at normal hours on the day previously known as "Black Friday," while offering no price discounts.

How can brands prepare?

- Obsess over making payment as easy as possible.
- Diversify our purchase-based data across a wide range of payment methods.
- Find ways to upgrade or downgrade pricing to ensure appeal across income levels.
- Instead of the discount, start re-imagining your promotional mechanisms to go beyond price.
- Avoid the future margin squeeze by building incidental loyalty, circumventing payment disintermediation, and most importantly, make sure you have a brand worth paying for. 

Episode 4: Fyre and Lice

Snapshot of this future: In 2025 Whiskey Electric, an influencer-driven bluegrass festival, eclipses Coachella as the world’s top grossing music festival, boosting sales of sponsors Levi’s & Wild Turkey.

How can brands prepare?

- Be very vigilant and diligent about influencer investments. We take this very seriously; GroupM is part of the Bot Fraud Prevention Council.
- Look for places and people, regardless of scale, where you are authentically being talked about and invest there first.
- Work to establish long-term relationships with these influencers.
- Consider affiliate marketing where we can turn fans into true business partners held to some level of performance.

Episode 5: The Pivot to Print

Snapshot of this future: In 2025, Wattpad buys ViacomCBS for $25 billion dollars, while Salesforce invests in the first "million dollar banner" on the NY Times.

How can brands prepare?

- Invest in journalism, to make sure it stays ad supported – otherwise that gets rid of a lot of opps for marketers.
- Perfect your static (and audio) messaging to be able to maintain franchise positions.
- Find and own the most valuable text content in your category.
- Place bets on franchise opps.

Episode 6: Endgame

Summing everything up from the other five episodes and Media Dystopia as a project. In a future of so much variation in experiences with both media and brands, our plans need to be constantly refreshing and evolving cuts of our customers, ever changing imaginings of the who, the how, and why.

How can brands prepare?

- Multiply your segmentations and discard your singular design targets.
- Replace your brand essence with your brand purpose.
- Build your system to be antifragile through diverse perspectives and applications.
- Implement an uncertainty minimum in today’s plans. Embrace that uncertainty because in it lies opportunity.

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