May 09, 2013
Meryl Streep Wants To Be a Barista
One of the enduring absurdities of the marketing and advertising industries is the old wives' tale that "people over 50 want to be like young people."
Ask any brain-dead CMO of a car company why the people who inhabit his commercials are all young, when 18-24 year-olds buy 1% of all new cars, and you'll get some version of that idiocy.
It's what passes for "strategic thinking" in the Golden Age of Marketing Brilliance.
Yeah, I was having coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, Meryl Streep and Barack Obama the other day and they were telling me how much they aspire to be like the morons in Taco Bell and Coors Light commercials.
I'm going to take this very slowly because I know it is difficult for marketing managers and creative directors to draw distinctions. Ready? Older people want to feel youthful. They do not like to feel old. But...here comes the hard part so put on your thinking caps...they do not want to be like young people. Please read that again. It is an important distinction. They don't like to feel old, but they also don't want to be like you. Capeesh?
The youth culture of yesteryear, that you're all so desperate to hang on to, is gone. Kaput. Aloha. Fuhgeddaboutit. It's over. Are people 18-49 still important to marketers? Of course they are. But they are no longer the beast. The beast is over 50.
The youth bulge is gone. They've grown up. They still have all the money. They still buy more of everything. They still spend more than anyone. But they're over 50. And mostly, they hate your culture. They hate your imagery. They hate most of what you think is cool or hip. In fact, according to The New York Times, the "generation gap" is larger than it's been in 50 years.
I'm sorry to tell you this, but your idea that "old people want to be like young people" is just plain old narcissism. Your obsession with pandering to 18-34 year-olds is decades out of date and is simply a reflection of the high regard that young people in the marketing and advertising industries have always had for themselves.
It is your excuse for not taking the time or having the interest to learn what people over 50 -- who control about 75% of the financial assets, buy 60% of the new cars, and purchase 55% of consumer packaged goods -- are about.
You need to learn how to talk to people over 50. It's that simple.
You can start by making me a double latte. Low foam, please.