Tracked, targeted and tired: Consumer prey dons camouflage to go private in public as a leading trend for 2013

We joke in our house that my husband is a digital dinosaur. He can text, but seldom does from his flip phone. He has no apps, isn’t on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. He doesn’t know what Pinterest is, doesn’t blog and only uses email occasionally. Short of showing up in a Google search as having run a marathon, he has no digital footprint.

Turns out, he might be a renaissance man after all, being ahead of an emerging trend for 2013 where consumers increasingly look to guard their information and digital persona.

After several years of displaying our lives publicly online, the wholly grail may now be finding privacy on your own terms.

However, short of cutting yourself off from all social media and rejecting a Smartphone, maintaining privacy has become a challenge. As companies change their settings and data use policies, finely tuned privacy walls can be destroyed with a few lines of code. As consumers we are encouraged to read updated use statements, but we all know how easy it is to just press “accept”.

And it’s not just social media titans we now fear; it’s our own “friends” who share, post, tag and comment. Just because something was done in public does not mean it should receive public promotion. From Facebook updates, to Tweets, and photos shared on Pinterest, we are a society verging on over share. So what are creative consumers doing in response? They’re creating Facebook identities with pseudonyms to guard against current and future employers. They’re trimming friend lists back to actual friends rather than an extended ring of acquaintances. They’re hosting “photo free” and “social sharing free” parties where Smartphones are checked at the door. They’re creating “dark rooms” at social gatherings where no photos are allowed. They’re making actual phone calls, rather than producing something that can be digitally shared. If it sounds like a rejection of technology, think again. It’s the use of technology but on your own terms.

There of course is marketing opportunity in this trend, for the company or brand that recognizes it and taps into the sensibilities by “playing on your team” to help protect that identity.

Norte Beer in Argentina invented a clever device called “Photoblocker” which is basically a cooler sleeve for your beer at a nightclub. Photoblocker detects when a camera flash is about to capture a photo and emits a blast of light to make the photo contents indistinguishable, thereby protecting whatever indiscretions about to be captured. The brainchild of Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Buenos Aires, one could argue the morality of such a device. But you can’t argue how it puts Norte Beer on the consumer’s side of the battle for social media privacy. See video of Photoblocker in action here:

In yet another beer company application in Argentina (please reserve judgment on the need for such a device in this country), Andes Beer invented a soundproof “Teletransporter” allowing guys to place calls from a sound proof booth to their girlfriends while at a nightclub, appearing to be somewhere else. See video here:

While these two examples obviously target a young male demographic, they represent examples of creativity in action that is right on trend.

Finding ways to be private in public is just one of 10 highlighted trends in the JWT Top Trends for 2013 report. The report is an annual forecast of key trends that will significantly impact consumer behavior for the near future. Check out a short video summarizing the trends here:

JWT invests a tremendous amount in researching social and cultural trends, which they release in their annual study.  Link here to buy the full 2013 report:

We’ll look at some of the other top 10 trends in future posts and how leading companies are connecting with their customers.


Mary Charleson


  1. Interesting stuff, Mary. Looks like the pendulum is swinging back, away from TMI, before the marketing industry really got a handle on what to do with all that personal information.

    • Oh I think the marketing industry will continue to track and personalize offerings Karen. I really don’t see that ending, in fact I think it will actually increase because most companies haven’t clued in to how sensitive people have become on this. However the companies that will be really successful are the ones that tap into either being truly invited into our world through permission granted, or those that find a way to cleverly take our side in protecting us from others. It will be fine line to walk for sure. Everywhere else there will be increasing noise looking to get our attention on a personal level, and we will be more and more likely to shut it out. I’m tracking a few of these emerging trends for 2013, but this one is the most intriguing because I think there is a hidden backlash set to happen.

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