Looking back at 2023 most of the news and conversation was dominated by less than positive headlines - the war in Russia and Ukraine, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the cost of living crisis in the UK and around the world.  Closer to home, this has had a direct impact on marketing spend - tighter budgets, downsizing of teams, removal of great talent, and doing more with less (yet again). 

So, as we usher ourselves into 2024 (and yes, we’re only four weeks in!), something’s got to give, right? Despite similar news headlines as we’ve seen in 2023 (war, humanitarian crisis, cost of living), there are indeed murmurs of ‘cautious optimism’ like inflation holding, interest rates declining, corporate margins remaining high, and advertising likely to be healthy.  

But if we are sitting here in January 2025 looking back at 2024, will ‘cautious optimism’ really get us to where we need to be? I certainly hope not.  If we are to be truly successful and ultimately happy, we need a full throttle dose of positivity to break through this barrier of ‘cautious optimism’.

The idea behind positive thinking is that when your mind is in a positive place, good things happen to you. Being positive opens you up to achieving success. One landmark study by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania found that optimistic sales professionals outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%. And according to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, “We become more successful when we are happier and more positive.” It isn’t rocket science, people just feel more positive about things they see when they’re already in a more positive mindset. 

If you yourself are positive then you are motivated to move forward and take action. Therefore, being exposed to positive brand messaging, within a positive environment leads to taking action; which is great news for us, and is good for the consumer. 

According to Pinterest, 6 in 10 US adults agree they are more likely to feel positive about brands (59%) when they are on a trusted and positive platform (56%) and likely to take action (54%). Which is great news for the industry.

Think Cadbury's, ‘There’s always been a glass and a half in everyone’, platform. Cadbury’s positive and optimistic platform continues to pay off for them, which has re-established the love for dairy milk and rebuilt the Cadbury brand inspiring the generosity of millions of Brits and, in turn, their annual value sales have risen 22% since the platform launched. And testament to its strength, they’re retelling its 2018 ‘Mum’s birthday’ campaign through the ages to celebrate their 200th anniversary.  

Think Coca-Cola’s ‘#HalfFull’ campaign in Romania. Off the back of the 2018 World Happiness Report, Romania ranked amongst the top 10 unhappiest countries in Europe. Coca-Cola Romania launched an inspiring campaign with the hashtag #HalfFull and a special bottle, full from the half-up, displaying positive news about Romania and urging people to share their “half-full story

Positivity is a powerful mindset that can have profound outcomes on your personal and professional life. Positive emotions can enhance your creativity, decision making, problem-solving, resilience, health, and well-being. 

Positivity is not about ignoring or denying the negative aspects of reality and the world we live in, but rather about focusing on the positive ones and finding meaning and purpose in them. They happen every day, but are mostly under promoted, in favour of the negative. 

For example, I was recently introduced to Positive News, a media outlet that is passionate about building a better alternative to the negative news media - helping me get my full throttle dose of positivity in my week, which in turn will fuel my mindset to think more positively; ultimately enhancing my creativity, resilience, health and well-being.  Win, win.  

Positivity is not a fixed trait that we either have or don't have, but a skill that we can learn and practice over time and take action on. So how can we cultivate it in our daily lives?   

Daily gratitude - start each day with positive affirmations and uplifting messages focusing on what you are looking forward to.  Manifest greatness. 

Acknowledgement -  stop being your own worst critic. Turn setbacks into lessons on what to do in the future. Be kind and engaging to those around you. 

Create a positive culture - encourage positive thinking through open communication and collaboration.  When teams feel like they have a voice, they will be more invested in their work and the outcomes of the business. 

Share the love - give everyone a chance to shine. Give your team the opportunity to share something interesting, inspiring, a success or even a failure.  Sharing contributes to a more positive culture, creating teams that produce better work and stay with you longer. 

Be bold - embrace the opportunities ahead, go forth not with ‘cautious optimisation’ but rather with clear, positive ambition.  Rock a few boats (backed up by data to support it!), test & learn and challenge the status quo. It’s the 2024 MAD//Fest theme afterall: Fortune Favours the Bold!    

So, as we are only 4 weeks into 2024, a challenge to us all:  If this year hopes are high that global advertising revenue will bounce back, thanks to the America’s upcoming presidential election, our own UK election, the Paris Olympics, and football’s Euro 2024 tournament. Let’s go forth and conquer with positive energy, bold decisions, clear understanding of our customers' needs, wants, and emotions, and deliver value and meaning to them through positive experiences, stories, and messages within positive environments that ultimately lead to them taking action. 

Oh, and as an aside, who knew I could use the word positive in an article 35 times! Overkill or emphasised for effect?

Tony will be writing for MAD//Insight throughout the year