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When brands take on the world as we know it

Chances are if you have any interest in running whatsoever, you spent Saturday morning with at least one eye glued to #Breaking2 – Nike’s ambitious attempt to break the 2-hour marathon barrier. Ok, they didn’t quite do it, and even if they did the record wouldn’t stand anyway (IAAF party poopers), but generally we seem to be agreed that just by way of trying, Nike have changed the world. Pushed humanity. Encouraged us all to think greater. Even got their biggest rival to doff their hat. And certainly delivered the most talked about launch of a shoe ever.

Anybody who tells you anything these days will say that we’re being exposed to more and more messaging throughout the day, and oh my gosh we’d better make sure we’re cutting through all that noise. So is this what it takes? We haven’t seen a marketing stunt on this scale since Red Bull dropped Felix Baumgartner from space, and Nike have arguably bettered it – at least the product was front and centre of #Breaking2.

We’re entering an era in which brands are selling us more than just products. More even than just lifestyles – brands are now changing the world around us. Red Bull and Nike are extending the limits of human achievement. Amazon is having Alexa take care of our homes, getting us used to the Starship Enterprise version of reality where we talk to technology to get what we want. And if you believe the hype, we could be taking a spin in the Google-backed flying car before the year is out.

The question is, if the biggest brands in the world are genuinely adding value in this way, what happens to the brands who are still trying just to sell us stuff?