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TBWA’s Backslash Reveals 36 Cultural Shifts Shaping Our World


This year’s Edges explore a fresh take on reality, sex, wealth, and everything in between

TBWA’s Backslash Reveals 36 Cultural Shifts Shaping Our World

Backslash, the cultural intelligence unit of TBWA\Worldwide, has released its annual glossary of Edges. More than a trend report, Edges are defined as meaningful cultural shifts that have the scale and longevity to propel a brand towards a greater share of the future.

“We spent 2020 talking about the New Normal, and 2021 worrying about new variants. In 2022, we’re taking stock of what two years of pandemic have taught us about ourselves and the world, and readying for action. As we start to make the choices and changes that will define the future we want, brands have a role to play in helping to make this new-ish world, a better world,” said Agathe Guerrier, chief strategy officer, TBWA\Worldwide.

The glossary’s 36 Edges span categories and countries, offering a comprehensive overview of the key shifts paving a new way forward. Three Edges set to experience especially strong momentum in 2022 are as follows:

Liquid Reality: As all things physical dissipate, it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish where the real world ends and the metaverse begins. In a progressively fluid and seemingly limitless world, tangibility, intentional friction, and boundaries will keep us grounded.

Sexual Liberation: Blurred lines between objectification and empowerment have long complicated our relationship with sexuality, but a culture healing from the past is ready to get sexy again–no stigmas attached. A new era of pleasure positivity is upon us. 

Wealth Hacking: From play-to-earn gaming to meme stocks, a society disillusioned with false promises of prosperity is generating wealth its own way. As trust in financial institutions declines and calls for accessibility intensifies, a growing group of people will opt for the unconventional.

Other must-watch Edges cover evolving attitudes and behaviours around mental health, inequality, death, data ownership, work, survivalism, and more. 

The glossary also explores a larger cultural redefinition of progress, with the big question for 2022 being “What does progress look like?”

“It’s an exciting time. We’re starting to see the world awaken to the fact that “progress” doesn’t have to mean advancement at all costs,” says Cecelia Girr, Backslash’s director of cultural strategy.

The glossary investigates this theme in three chapters, inviting us to welcome a new kind of progress that’s better for us and our planet.

The first chapter, Hindsight in Action, covers all the ways in which we’re looking to the past to inform our future. 

The second chapter, Hacking the Matrix, explores how individuals are liberating themselves from the rules and institutions that no longer work for them.

The final chapter, Hidden Futures, dives into the cultural shifts leading us into the great unknown. These are the areas too nascent to be informed by the past—the beta tests, the brave new world, the impending question marks.

“In 2022, progress will bring a really interesting mix of the familiar and totally unfamiliar. Businesses should be asking themselves how they can use the lessons from our past to balance out the areas where advancement has gone too far,” says Backslash’s senior cultural strategist, Skyler Hubler.

The complete list of 36 Edges can be downloaded here 

Backslash’s rigorous set of criteria requires that Edges be rooted in human values, be recognizable through consumer behaviours, and lead to clear business implications. In order to be declared an Edge, identified shifts must have sustained relevance for over a year and should continue to matter for the foreseeable future. Each Edge must also be globally relevant, manifesting in a majority of the world’s regions.

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TBWA Worldwide, Wed, 23 Feb 2022 10:56:50 GMT