Where do we go from here?


The 1920s were roaring to the sound of jazz, speakeasies and reckless abandon. Cut to the 2020s, which have ushered in a similar cultural shakedown: Brexit, crypto, George Floyd, the war in Ukraine, record high inflation, the passing of Queen Elizabeth, Red (Taylor’s Version), TikTok dances… “Goblin Mode” found its way to Oxford Dictionary’s 2022 Word of the Year, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the COVID-19 pandemic, of course.

The uncertainty of the past several years calls for the universe to give us something we can count on in 2023. We don’t have any clairvoyants on the JayRay roster, but we’d like to think our predictions for the coming year are worth betting on:

  • AI is in.
  • Aesthetic Instagram is out.
  • “Microinfluencers”, user-generated content and authenticity on social media are the way forward.
  • Step aside, Y2K – the aesthetic of the 80s is here to stay.

We’re only just beginning. 

Read on as we offer our two cents about what’s ahead the rest of this year. Will we laugh when we read this 10 years from now? There’s only one way to find out.

The AI arms race is officially on. 

The AI race is set to shape our culture in ways we can only begin to imagine. With the explosion of ChatGPT and tech giants like Google and Meta scrambling to keep up, the race to create the most advanced and intuitive AI technology is only getting started. 

Kacie, Senior Advisor & Principal: “It’s definitely the race for AI. ChatGPT is disruptive. The pressure is on for big tech. Urgent questions remain about security and data accuracy as companies accelerate their AI development to compete.”

Julia, Art Director: “2023 will be all about figuring out how to incorporate AI into the creative process. AI offers the perfect tools for agile storyboarding, wireframing, concepting, outlining and more. Still, there’s pushback from all sides — is AI-generated art ethical? Can a bot really write copy that meets our standard for “final product”? At the end of the day, AI is a tool that creatives will leverage, but it will not replace creative humans.”

Alex, Advisor: “AI is the star of the show right now. Everyone is experimenting with it to see what they can get away with. ChatGPT will force companies to innovate — some may even consider acquiring it. AI may also reveal a race to become the authority on something, especially as we go into a campaign and ‘fake news’ makes its way to the forefront again.”

Olivia, Copywriter: “A tool like ChatGPT offers speed, scale and savings at a time when all three are scarce — but it’s not worth the cost of meaningful connection. An AI-written content piece might be readable, but crucial elements will always be missing: The humanity. The lived experience. The soul. The connection that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued. The kind of connection that gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

We can expect the rise of AI to bring significant changes to our culture, but it will also highlight the elements of human connection that can’t be replaced. With the advancement of AI and its integration into our daily lives, the essentials of human interaction — empathy, creativity, and emotional intelligence — will become even more valuable. It’s not a surprise that people are connecting less with one another over time. It feels like it won’t be long before the human touch becomes a rare commodity and a unique selling point in various industries, including health care, education and high-ticket customer service.

The emergence of humanity in an automated future is the perfect segue into our next prediction for 2023 and beyond.

Authenticity over everything. 

With audiences demanding more genuine experiences, content creation (and consumption) has transformed in a fascinating way. The trend towards authenticity is clear in the growing popularity of user-generated content and platforms like BeReal and TikTok that celebrate raw, unscripted content over polished, aesthetically pleasing feeds. Color-coordinated camera rolls are buckling under the weight of “Casual Instagram.” The rise of face-to-camera videos make social media feel intimate — almost like we’re on a FaceTime call with our favorite celebrities, social media stars, experts, enthusiasts and even perfect strangers. Bonus points if you show up wearing a star-shaped pimple patch. The trend is a testament to our value of authentic, unapologetic self-expression over carefully curated content.

The shift of influencer marketing offers a telling case study in this regard. The big names who built an audience by vlogging from their childhood bedroom have graduated to a sprawling, multi-million dollar Los Angeles abodes. As their follower counts — and their revenues — soar into the tens of millions, the influencers who catapulted themselves to stardom are losing touch with those who got them there in the first place. Consequently, smaller creators and “microinfluencers” are providing genuine, authentic content for brands and connecting with their audiences in a deeper way.

We’re hungry for humanity and “realness” in a world where both are in short supply.

Sean, Senior Art Director: “People are seeking greater transparency and authenticity from service and product providers. In a world where human to human interaction is declining, standout marketing will be thoughtful, personalized, clear and concise.” 

Julia, Art Director: “The lifestyle of a ‘microinfluencer’ is much more relatable, trustworthy and attainable to the average person. On the other hand, this means everyone feels they can be an influencer, and the market may get so saturated that the pendulum swings back in the other direction. Will be interesting to see how that plays out.”

Bridget, Senior Advisor & Principal: “The trend I’m seeing is bringing human connection to the digital experience. Short-form video — 30 seconds or less — isn’t going away, especially if you can make it experiential for the viewer. There’s so much content out there that it can be completely overwhelming. As marketers, we should aim to be more deliberate with what we create, so it’s seen as useful and cuts through the noise.”

Radical intention makes every move matter.

Intentionality is on the rise for businesses, brands and consumers of all kinds. From our perspective, intentional marketing — and consumption — means making every decision carefully, methodically, and in light of the big picture. Intentionality is the opposite of jumping on the bandwagon or throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Radical intention makes every move matter, big and small. We expect to see both brands and consumers slow down and consider their choices more carefully as they reflect on what is most meaningful for them. A change in thinking will inevitably lead to a change in behavior on a broad scale, whether that manifests as shopping small, going dairy free or choosing to direct advertising dollars from Twitter to TikTok.

Julia, Art Director: “I think there will be continued interest in spending money locally over giant corporations. For all the people who developed a creative side hustle during COVID-19, I see many of us prioritizing small businesses at home and online. Rather than buying new and continuing the cycle of consumption, DIY-ing and “upcycling” will grow into an even broader niche.”

Kacie, Senior Advisor & Principal: “Businesses of all sizes are finding it increasingly difficult to stay on top of all the channels and content they need to promote their brand, cause or product. We know that many social algorithms reward authenticity, but it can be challenging for certain industries. It’s important for organizations to be crystal clear about their brand goals and to have realistic resources in place in order to show up on the channels that matter. We’re surrounded by a world of big brands who may be able to jump on every bandwagon. Smaller brands feel the pressure to do the same with a fraction of the resources. It’s important to be strategic about the big picture and think sustainably about how to create assets that will do more for longer.”

Recession-core and romanticizing scarcity.

Headlines about an upcoming recession have been looming for months. In a tight economy, what cultural changes can we expect in 2023? 

There’s the well-known phenomenon of the lipstick effect — the increased sales of small indulgences or little luxuries in tough economic times. Newer, however, is the romanticization of scarcity and the lifestyle associated with shoestring budgets. The tinned fish date night that’s trending on TikTok is a particularly well-branded example. Recession-core is marked by modest collections from luxury brands, minimalism over maximalism and understated wealth. We predict ongoing criticism of extravagant luxuries and the ethics of extreme wealth as people prioritize sustainability and mindful purchases during uncertain times. The upcoming presidential race is also likely to bring attention to the economic disparities in 2023, further driving the conversation around inequality.

Alex, Advisor: “The presidential campaign for 2024 will start this year, so we’ll see some presidential bid announcements as candidates establish their platforms. As cultural criticism of the high-end world grows in conversation, I’m guessing that inflation will continue to be a hot button issue for candidates this cycle.”