Trends For 2002.

In the coming years, lifestyle trends will be set by a wide range of media figures, from Madonna to Vladimir Putin. Countries like Spain and Indonesia will influence the world far beyond their borders. And something as simple as text messaging will become one of the most vital forms of communication for all ages and regions.

These are just a few of the future trends identified by Euro RSCG Worldwide, the world’s fifth-largest advertising agency network, in a new white paper titled “Influence & Influencers: What to Expect from the Near Future.” The report focuses on some of the key people, places, and things that will influence our world in the coming months and years.

Among the most influential people for the near future:

* MADONNA: Topping Euro RSCG’s list of influential people is Madonna, who continues to demonstrate unbelievable marketing savvy.

* THE BECKHAMS: David Beckham, a soccer superstar, and his wife, entertainer Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham are hugely influential as style icons and devoted (albeit low-key) parents.

* HIDETOSHI NAKATA: This sports figure may be the key to cracking open the Asian soccer market, which remains an area ripe for growth.

* GEORGE HARRISON: His work, art, and passion for causes influenced at least one generation. His death will influence people as well-prompting Boomers to re-evaluate their own lives and accomplishments.

* VLADIMIR PUTIN: The closest thing to a sex symbol ever to hit the Russian political scene, Putin has stepped onto the world stage sporting a combination of excellent language skills and public relations savvy.

Among the most influential places for the near future:

* TURKEY: Turkey has the unique status of being a secular democratic state with an overwhelmingly Muslim population. It may find itself in a position of much greater influence as Muslims re-evaluate the relationships between Islam, nationalism, government, the state, and modernization.

* INDONESIA: Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world, with a population of more than 200 million spread over a vast territory of islands stretching from Asia to Australia. But despite its oil supply and large population, the nation has been much less influential than the Muslim nations of the Middle East. However, the country’s influence on the outside world is poised to increase in the months and years to come.

* SPAIN: After a century of relative obscurity, and a decade of raising its international profile, Spain is making its influence felt. Its cultural and linguistic links with Latin America make it the European gateway to Mexico City and points south, while also giving Spanish companies, such as telecom giant Telefonica, a significant natural advantage.

Among the media developments that will shape the near future:

* SMS/TEXT MESSAGING: While mobile phone manufacturers and service providers were getting excited about fancy WAP applications and next-generation technology, users worldwide have been very happily coming to grips with this relatively humdrum feature.

* MP3 AND CD-W: The music industry changed forever when technology provided consumers with the means to appropriate the reproduction and distribution of music completely outside the control of the music industry.

* DVD: Next year, Digital Versatile Discs are set to outsell video cassettes in the U.S., where households equipped with DVD players have increased 80% in the past year. DVDs may turn out to be the true dawn of mass-market multimedia.

* AL JEZEERA: Al Jezeera, the independent Qatar-based TV station famed for airing tapes of Osama bin Laden, has many ex-staffers from the BBC’s former Arabic television service, and is the only broadcaster in the region to air real political debate and controversy.

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