Posted by Mark Grainger 29 Oct 2015

Predicting the future with Back to the Future

Great Scott! Do you realise that, as of last Sunday, everything that happens in every Back to the Future film, including the bit in the far future of 2015, is in the past. I know, I feel old too and I wasn't even born when the first film was released. Heavy.

The sequel was released in 1989 and much has been made this week that the  the famous 2015 sequence was set on October 25th, with brands clamouring to take advantage of BTTF fever.

Some fared better than others (the Department of Work and Pensions struggled, panting and wheezing to clamber aboard the bandwagon), whilst brands such as Nike and Pepsi managed to turn their original sponsorship deals into self-fulfilling prophecies by creating the shoes and bottles featured in the film.

But what about all the other fabulous things Back to the Future II showed us? How much of the far-out, barely conceivable technology that was a part of everyday life has actually gone on to form part of the real-life fabric of 2015.

Well, for a start there are the endless sequels and needless 3D conversions such as the vision of Jaws 19 that terrorised Marty McFly on his arrival in Hill Valley 2015, even if it's the Fast and the Furious franchise that somehow manages to keep cropping back up in cinemas and not Jaws. Besides, they'd probably reboot Jaws before it got to 19 entries these days.

There's also the scene wherein Facetime and Skype style video calls are predicted, although most of us receive calls from family and friends and not our incandescently angry boss over video call (because, really, that would be a bad internal comms strategy). There's also the love of nostalgic themed restaurants and diners, such as the one Marty and Biff 2015 tangle in, which can be found in every town, city and shopping centre across the land.

But what did BTTF get wrong? Well for a start we can't control the weather without using hugely unethical cloud dispersal missiles so we're still slaves to the skies, and nobody receives faxes like Marty's dad did.

Most importantly however, hoverboards have spectacularly failed to happen, despite a sudden rush of inferior products raising the hopes of children of all ages by besmirching the name. These wheeled imposters been banned now anyway, so hopefully scientists will see our disappointment and get back to creating the real thing. Until then we can always dream in front of our BTTF boxset.

Predicting the future is always a difficult game, but Back to the Future II shows that it can be done to some extent. We like to think that recognising the emerging trends and technologies in marketing helps us to predict the future to give you the best strategy. A tenuous like for sure, but totally true.

Now make like a tree, and get out of here!