I need to talk to you about your affair. It’s turned into an obsession, really, and, frankly, you are starting to look foolish. On top of that, you completely misread the signals and you’re bound in a relationship that makes no sense. Can I help you find a way out of this before it’s too late?
I think if we retrace your steps and see when you fell so hard, it will help. Practically everything we know about modern advertising was birthed during the Baby Boom of the late ’50s and early ‘60s. Through all these years the principles of storytelling to create attraction to brands has not changed; the packaging of the message has. It’s so easy to become attracted to the package. You know better.
The most important artifact of the Baby Boom was the birth of the first real consumer market of young people. Children became “teen-agers” and “young adults” instead of going to work or war. It created a lively, engaging new lifestage in a time of peace, prosperity and optimism. New freedoms were expressed, young women attained education and new status. Music changed forever. It was like an aphrodisiac. You were hooked on the feeling.
Let’s be honest, you fell hard. You could get them to buy anything – cars, soft drinks, diamonds, and so much more. You were like a stalker as they moved from teen to adult, marrying and having children and building careers. You were more than a voyeur . . . you were a puppet master – tweaking their competitive nature as they purchased more of your products to keep up with their friends and neighbors.
And then they turned 50 and your love grew cold. They had gotten smart and experienced. They weren’t so shiny. They were (gasp) wrinkled. And they did not care at all what the neighbors thought. The betrayal! How could they do this to you? You were completely justified in just walking away.
You went searching for younger models, just hoping to get that feeling back. You learned a few new tricks but you never really connected in the same way again. Lost and confused, you looked for understanding, but the sweet siren of youth beckoned.
But here’s the thing. It wasn’t youth you found so intoxicating – that was just the outer wrapper for the values of optimism, idealism, and vitality. The packaging is a little worn by experience, hard work and life. The values you fell for are intact. And those values are connected to over $7 trillion in spending on everything from pantry items to luxury goods.
While you are out cavorting with “shiny wrappers,” the love of your life has started a revolution. This great love is launching “encore” careers. Re-imagining the third phase of life. Becoming social entrepreneurs to create positive change. Supporting extended family. And still finding time to play in the band, dance and meditate. This great love is happier, healthier and living longer. They just aren’t going to do that with you.