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Thank you kids

(Picture: Andrew M. Daddio for The New York Times)

If it wasn’t for their children, most marketers would be still living in the middle age of communication.

I mean, it was fine, 8 years ago, when marketers discovered why their kids was doing for hours in their bedroom: Internet: porn for the boys, MSN messenger for the girls.

But reading an article like that in 2008 still leaves me a little perplexed.

The NY Times entitled it: Text Generation Gap: U R 2 Old (JK). It starts like that:

AS president of the Walt Disney Company’s children’s book and magazine publishing unit, Russell Hampton knows a thing or two about teenagers. Or he thought as much until he was driving his 14-year-old daughter, Katie, and two friends to a play last year in Los Angeles.

And he was for a massive discovery. His own child, his beloved daughter, was having textual intercourse with her friends in the back of his car! While he was driving! OH MY GOD!!

‘Oh Dad, you are so out of it.’

The ingrate teenager replied to him. And she’s got a massive point here.  

a) Big cheese people don’t have a single clue of what is going on in the modern communication landscape. That despite their million of pounds, consultants, advertising agencies, trendsetters…. No one had told the president of the Walt Disney Publishing Unit that texting was becoming a huge thing with teenagers. This is scaring me.

b) that the NY Times thinks its newsworthy. I know, I’m aware the US are lagging behind in term of mobile communication, but it’s text message we are talking about here! Not rocket science.

I’m pretty sure as a result of this chat with his daughter, he started considering mobile communication as part of his marketing campaign.

Which leads me to think that we need to take action, as an industry: we need more children! Here are starters for 10:

– Drastically encourage our clients to have more unprotected sex. Taking them out and getting them really drunk is a good start.

– Ease the adoption process. We need clients to have more 18 years old children right now. It could be the nicest gift from an agency to a client: here’s your 18 years old, he’ll tell you everything you need to know about modern marketing, you just need to feed him once or twice a week.

– Start targetting clients’ children and educating them on how and what to say to their parents. Instead of trying to convince clients, we should only talk to their children. They will do a much better job at convincing them that we possibly can. Maybe we can have some sort of reward system. For each parent converted, the kid gets 5% of the marketing budget. Kids nowadays, they like to make a bit of money.

So it’s a win-win-win situation. The kid gets some money, the client does smarter campaigns and the agency’s happy because they can do some cool and relevant stuff.

  1. March 27, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks a lot for this funny post. And your great ideas! Mhm… Maybe they might help to make some workoholics spend a little more time with their family. Because they could make profit from it… anyway, great post. Unluckily, Mr Hampton really is not the only one being “so out” – recently I read about a german politician whose secretary prints his e-mails (because he doesn’t know how the internet stuff works) and puts them on his desk. OMG! Those people decide about important issues…

  2. March 27, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I have sat in meetings presenting digital ideas where the junior clients (under 25) nod enthusiastically and ask no questions, while the senior clients (over 30) look confused and ask tons of questions. Like “what does flickr look like?”

    The result is half the room saying it’s a great idea and they really want to do it, and half the room saying it is confusing, resource intensive, difficult to attach an ROI to, potentially risky, a PR nightmare, and “not where we are as a company”.

    I do find myself trying harder to impress the youngest person in the room rather than the oldest. Hopefully this will reap huge rewards in 2017.

    (Julia – I think Tony Blair used to do the same thing. I saw an interview with Jonathan Powell where he said Blair’s previous inner sanctum are getting texts at all hours now because Tony has learnt how to text since leaving office. Guardian, I think)

  3. Digicynic
    March 27, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Ha the difference 5 years seem to make…
    Thanks for your responses, very edifying. I find it helpful sometimes to only sell the big idea and topline strategy to the big cheese client and keep the execution details to the junior clients. But’s its a tough sale nevertheless.

  4. April 20, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    “It could be the nicest gift from an agency to a client: here’s your 18 year old, he’ll tell you everything you need to know about modern marketing, you just need to feed him once or twice a week.”

    Cracking stuff.

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