April 30, 2014

The Polluted Fountain Of Youth

Anyone who's ever had a parent knows one thing for sure: Old people think young people are idiots.

If you're young, your parents hate your music, hate your haircut, hate your friends, hate your language, hate your clothing... it's an inviolable rule of nature.

This is nothing new. It's been going on for generations. Ever since youth culture emerged about 100 years ago, every generation of parents has thought that every generation of kids were a bunch of bozos.

The only people who don't seem to know this are us geniuses in the advertising industry. According to us, older people don't just admire young people, they long to be like them.

It's no coincidence that people in the ad industry tend to be young. All this youth worship is really just narcissism masquerading as business strategy.

What our agency masterminds don't seem to understand is that there is a difference between wanting to be youthful, and wanting to be like young people.

People of a certain age certainly want to be youthful. But their idea of being youthful is  being like they were 15 years ago. Not being like young people are now.

I think Michelle Obama wants to be youthful, but I doubt she wants to be like the doofuses in Taco Bell ads.

Now that people over 50 are dominating our economy, it's about time agencies (and marketers) learned to draw a distinction. There's a difference between wanting to be youthful and wanting to be like young people.

Ask your parents.


Rory said...

I think the only place this is really true (the thing you're arguing against) is in health/beauty/fitness stuff.

Everyone wants their 20-year-old physique. Unless they were a lard-arse back then, then I dunno.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

I'm not young. I'm not *terribly* old. I have no desire to be younger, youthful-er, or any of that nonsense. I'm quite happy being me. Maybe we should consider that possibility, too. Maybe older people don't give a rat's ass about being anything but themselves.

True for me. Might be true for others, too. I know people who are old and long to be more youthful. I know a lot of young people who actually would like to be older.

Maybe it's not really age that's at the root of it. Maybe it's happiness. Why would anyone want to be older or younger? Seems like that could only be because they're not happy with who they are.

Carl Zetie said...

The only exception to this rule is ads for ED medication, which feature older men who are confident, competent, independent, self-reliant, wise, and ready to drop trou at a the merest hint of a smile from their age-appropriate yet still slim and attractive wives who wait patiently for their return from their manly pursuits of the day. Paradoxically, the largest consumers of Viagra may actually be 20-something lads worried about "performing" after one too many lagers.

Shanghai61 said...

Agreed. Talk to the human, not the demographic.

There's way too much irrelevant segmentation, splitting people into meaningless groups that have nothing to do with their needs or with their buying behaviour. And few products are truly 'age-sensitive'.

When your audience is broad, it's better to find out what makes people the same, not what makes them different.