by Tom Fels (@thomasfels) Last month I paid tribute to two Esquire magazines, published exactly 47 years apart, contrasting both the advertising and editorial content.

Esquire, September 1970While a lot has certainly changed over the past five decades — what with technological advancements, social transformation and changing roles for men both at home and in the workplace — there is also much that has stayed the same. Gents still quaff expensive whiskies, aspire to wear a Rolex and generally take an interest in the same forms of progression.

More long term

However, the time spent producing that article did get me thinking about something a more long term. At this time of year, we’re accustomed to trend projections for the year ahead, but what if we were to take our Esquire lessons from the past 50-odd years and apply a lens on the next 50?

Acknowledging that the pace of change is increasing exponentially, it’s taken some drastic thinking to cue these advertising and subject matter trends for the year 2060:

  1. Format

Esquire will no longer be in print and will exist only as a digital and interactive audiovisual resource, accessed mostly by phone and smart projection technology. Content will be tailored to an individual based on preselected interests and hence no two interfaces are likely to be the same.

The linear navigation of the current content will exist as a vertical interface, enabling users to navigate to various points of interest within an article to access deeper levels of information.

All articles will be enhanced with meet-the-maker and behind-the-scenes footage.

  1. Frequency

Monthly magazines will have ceased to exist. Rolling content will be published as it becomes available. Some content will be produced ‘live’ and interacting users will be able to have the resulting article personalised to their interest.

Thousands of international writers, photographers, thinkers and artists will collaborate on individual topics to offer the speed and frequency demanded by the publisher and readers.

  1. Subscription

A pay-for-content model will charge readers in-app. For those using Google Glass and other near-view projectors, a retina scanner will charge per word read. Other publishers will have gone the pay-per-click route of today’s digital media houses. The art of storytelling will need to be more persuasive than ever.

  1. Advertisers

Already over the past 50 years, we’ve seen alcohol advertising diminish at a multiple of 15 times. Liquor ads will have been banned decades before 2060. While fashion houses and luxury brands will continue as paid-contributors, technology companies will dominate in the quantity and quality of communication.

Rolex will continue to feature and achieve a landmark century of advertising to the Esquire audience.

  1. Ad forms:

‘Advertising’, particularly the static variety, will be out of vogue and would have been replaced with brand-curated content. The majority of such content would already be housed in brand-owned communities, and the paid use of other supporting channels would be aimed at drawing new users to these communities.

The Esquire outlook

Branded media channels will be fragmenting fast and innovating even faster in 2060. Those that hold cult status will garner a loyal following, while a more transitory audience will migrate from brand communities to media channels, looking for curated experiences (not ‘reads’) and upholding a standard set of expectations no matter their destination.

The paradigm of accelerating change implies that there is more room for success — and failure — than ever before. If one facet of advertising can change 15-fold over the past 50 years, I imagine others could change at a multiple of four or five times that in the next 50.

The real challenge for Esquire and other media owners is in moving first, moving fast and, ultimately, risking it all to book their spot in the crosshairs of future popular culture.


Tom FelsWith a decade of local and international experience in leading brand consulting, design, shopper marketing and integrated advertising roles, Tom Fels (@thomasfels) has gained a deeply relevant understanding of the dynamics of agencies. His skills are put to work daily as group managing director of Publicis Machine. He contributes the monthly “The Ad Exec” column to MarkLives.

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