BSSP’s “Cultural Vortex” Brings Us The Most Interesting Moments of 2020


By thesanfranciscoegotist / /

Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners (BSSP) just announced the results of its “Cultural Vortex” study. In a year overflowing with “interesting” moments and headlines, BSSP set out to find the ones that captivated us beyond the biggest and most obvious forces of the year: COVID-19 and the presidential election. 

The agency gathered a total of 35 headlines across Science, Technology, Fashion and Beauty, Food, Sports, Entertainment and Pop Culture, with news from the Mars Rover to #BlackOutTuesday, Zoom Happy Hours to the departure of Meghan and Harry. Using Pollfish, the team surveyed 750 respondents who ranked and rated each story. Top findings include: 

  • Most Interesting Moments of 2020:
    • Black Lives Matter and Social Justice Movements: The social justice movement following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery showed us that we need change and that we have the power to bring about that change. From protests to #blackouttuesday it’s clear that social justice was top of mind for everyone as the #1 most interesting event this year.
    • Unforgettable Legacies: Kobe & Gianna: This year we were able to look back on and celebrate some incredible legacies: Kobe Bryant’s mamba mentality (#2), The death and inspiring life of RBG (#4). And Michael Jordan’s ‘Last Dance’. These were some of the most interesting events of the year, making it clear that the legacies of these heroes aren’t going anywhere.
    • The Mars Rover: Even though we spent a lot of time indoors working from home this year, our attention was brought to the stars with the Mars Rover landing (#3) and the Pentagon confirming the existence of UFO’s (#7). 
  • Least Interesting, a Skin Care Bust: 
    • Remember that 10-step skin care routine we all had just perfected? Yeah, not this year. Interest in skin care was on mute this year as we were all WFH with our cameras off. The skin-care boom we were expecting this year came in as the least interesting thing of 2020.
  • For those who are tired of working from home, their top moments were:
    • The Death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant
    • BLM and Social Justice Movements
    • The Mars Rover
  • For democrats, their top moments were:
    • BLM and Social Justice Movements
    • The Death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    • #BlackOutTuesday
  • For Republicans, their top moments were:
    • The Death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant
    • Revelations around Ellen DeGeneres
    • The Mars Rover

“As an agency, we’ve always had a focus on what makes something interesting and memorable. Helping our brand clients tap into timely cultural moments in an authentic and meaningful way,” said Adrienne Johnson, Senior Strategist. “Through this study, we were able to take that a step further. Peel back the many layers of 2020 and hone in on WHAT truly captured the public’s attention, what stuck, and WHY. Turns out, we’ve had some silver linings this year after all.” 

Across the top 20 DMA’s, the study targeted culturally curious millennials and Gen Zers ranging from 18 – 34 years old. The agency also cross-referenced the news items against 11 attitudinal questions to dissect how the moments varied by different groups, including parents, and men and women. For example, the study determined that the top moments differed for men and women with men choosing the Mars Rover and women gravitating toward the death of RBG. 

This inaugural “Cultural Vortex” study is the first wave of a larger project aimed at identifying what makes something “interesting” and how brands can capitalize and retool to attract the attention of consumers. 

You can review the full results from the study on BSSP’s website here.


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