April 12, 2012

Talking To Grown-Ups

I've spent an inordinate amount of time over the years railing about the silliness of marketers who are constantly chasing people with no money (young people) and ignoring the people with lots of money (people over 50.)

Today we'll leave that argument behind and talk instead about a different aspect of the problem: there isn't an adequate vocabulary for talking to grown-ups in advertising.

It's much easier to talk to young people. We all know what to do. You start with a dopey pop music track, you add quick cuts of people with bad haircuts and tattoos, you mix in a few half-naked models pretending they can act, then slip in a few product shots. (For a primer in how to sell this vapid formula to boneheads, don't miss the "The Pitch.")

We know that this is mindless crap but let's not be coy here, young people are dimwits and the stuff works.

But talking to adults is harder. We don't have a visual language for it. It's just one cliche after another. Grandpa and Timmy in the row boat fishing. Worn out pop "oldies." Icky suburbanites getting all horny in bathtubs.

Dumb cliches work with young people because pop culture is always evolving (perhaps devolving is a more accurate word) so there are new images to work with all the time. But the cliches we've developed for old farts haven't changed at all. We need a new visual language.

The problem isn't just that the ad industry doesn't want to talk to grown-ups, it doesn't know how.

In Other News...
I watched "The Pitch" last night and wrote a long post about it. But I've decided not to run it. I have an unwritten rule here about criticizing other agencies -- it's just too easy and self-serving. But, boy, has our industry lost its way.

And Speaking of Self-Serving...
I almost never use this platform for talking about the agency, but our Toyota team did a spot that I particularly like. Hope you enjoy it.
video

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