I don't know the process most editors of monthly magazines use to write their columns, but I will confess that I normally wait until my copy deadline is imminent, and write about what happens to be on my mind at that time. I know what you're thinking: It usually reads that way. Sorry about that. But this month I'm writing about something that's been on my mind for nearly 30-years, or maybe even my whole life.
Consumerism was never just about buying stuff.
It was about a faith in boundless economic growth. Tomorrow brings more goods, more choice, more shopping.
It was about binding our personal identities with the brands we bought and the market segments we inhabited.
It was about accumulating more goods as "reward" for enduring less satisfying work lives.
It was about social and community structures where shopping malls became centers of community, where suburbia and home-ownership were vehicles for displaying our purchases.
It was about a cult of celebrity that lionized Trump, Brangelina and Hannah Montana. Fame ...
In a way, the green movement should have been a red flag.
People suddenly did not want to buy multiple disposable items; they wanted fewer, more durable items that could be purchased once and reused, kept handy on a kitchen shelf along with a good clean conscience. They wanted more efficient laundry detergent, hybrid cars that used less gas, fewer pesticides in their food, and less packaging in general.
Things have been the same for a long time. Quiet and peaceful would be the wrong words, but with a few concessions to technology, the way we advertise and are advertised to has remained basically unchanged. When Ed Cotton, director of strategy at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, looks ahead, it's not six months or a year out - but way out into the abyss.
Happy New Year! How happy are you right now? Not very, I'd imagine, if you've been reading the coverage of our industry's health. It's bad out there, and if the forecasts are right, the media business is going to get worse before it gets better. Personally, I think they got that only half right.
The only thing worse than pitching a new piece of business is winning it. I jest, of course - but it is incredibly hard to ramp up a new account. Learning its intricacies is exhausting. If you're lucky, the previous agency will send you a box of old post-analyses and random documents. However, an even better way is to utilize the product firsthand. Personal experience illuminates the difference between understanding and true knowledge.
Since the debut of the first television program at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, Americans have been enthralled by TV. Subsequent advances in technology - the advent of color, cable television, HD, surround sound and DVRs - make today's TV-watching experience almost unrecognizable compared to that of those first viewers, but the love affair is still going strong. Even as alternatives proliferate, total TV viewing hours continues to increase.
The pace of change accelerates every day.
My parents no longer just sit down to watch TV, they also engage with online media, mobile content, and, yes, even video games. In other words, their media use has become every bit as diverse and changeable as that of Gen Y. Yet our media plans still carry a 1960s-era broadcast bias. The world is changing, even in the retirement community. How do I know? My retired mother called me earlier this week.
"I want to get your father a Wii for his birthday this year," she said shyly.
As a general rule, we like to think of ourselves as individuals who make our own choices and decisions. Sure, we're informed by the factors around us, but, ultimately, we're independent of them. Mavericks, if you will. The reality, of course, is far less simple. Many of our choices are heavily influenced - if not predetermined - by what we have been exposed to throughout our lives by family, friends and others around us. Leaving aside for now that, by definition, we can't all be mavericks, just how maverick can we be?
If you thought it was difficult to launch a campaign that successfully accounts for the complexities of attention economics, then just try launching a campaign that grabs the attention of the ADD generation itself.