Thursday, October 13, 2005

Is your demographic showing?

Over at Adfreak, Deanna Zammit does a nice job of taking apart Marian Salzman's new take on the metrosexual, a man Ms. Salzman now deems the ubersexual.

I've always thought that pop culture prognosticators are charlatans. Easy work, isn't it? When Salzman writes that the new male ubersexual is "less Ryan Seacrest and more Bill Clinton" or "less David Beckham and more Bono" it makes me wonder how any marketer can take this kind of work seriously.

Quick. Think of one yourself. I've got one: less Enrique Iglesias, more Edward Norton. There, I think that works.

Fact is, people don't fit so easily into these demographic boxes, especially the ones constructed by people in Manhattan who pass their days in a sleek office, musing on their own genius and asking their assistant to fetch them another half-caf latte. For example, Toyota has determinedly marketed their Scion line to young hipsters and yet finds the vehicles are extremely popular with grandparents.

Another problem with all this blather occurs when people create communications that's obvious in its attempt to reach a particular audience. I've noticed — probably only because they're spending untold millions — a campaign advertising the fact that American Express Financial Advisors is now Ameriprise Financial Advisors. They aim right at the demographic some account planner told them was the sweet spot — boomers. The spots are filled with plenty of rah-rah about the incredible unique qualities of this generation and feature interesting footage from the sixties and early seventies. Nothing like hippies and muttonchop sideburns to make a commercial appealing. The problem is that not every boomer was protesting outside the dean's office in the sixties or digging the wife-swapping parties of the suburban seventies. Look at a college photo from the sixties — you'll notice a lot of people who look like they just stepped off the Happy Days set. Whenever communications say, "Hey, you there, that guy who's just like this guy!" you're more likely to alienate or confuse your audience than appeal to them. Brands need to have their own personalities, defined on their own terms and not by an audience they're trying to reach.

I fear for the creatives who will have work demolished because, "'s not the way an ubersexual would talk." And I do love what Deanna says about this group — they're just men who aren't slobs. I'm sure Salzman et al have a thick white paper that arrives at the same point.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Help me if you can I'm feeling down" - I also think I must be lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him on the golf course yesterday. Now this is strange because usually I see him in the supermarket.

Honest really, last time I saw him there he was right in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new lcd tv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a lcd tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger.

Then I'm gonna go home, put ma dancin' suit on, munch me some uppers and freak out to that maaaaaaaaad surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on ma lcd tv .

How cool is that boy?

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

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