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« Confessions of a Marketer's Existential Crisis: Greek Art | Main | A Conversation Versus A Pitch »

Dec 01, 2004



Is it just me, or does this post resonate deeply with the main message from the movie Fight Club?


I'd love to think you're right; I'd love to believe we as a people are becoming more inner-directed and less focused on external toys and trappings and markers to fashion our identities for us. Is there quantifiable evidence of this shift? Some magic, quantitative research your connection has access to that leads you to believe this is a real trend?

On a different note, the current Citibank campaign is pretty disingenuous, I think. Hard to believe a megacorp whose existence is so tied up in consumer (over)spending (what is the ratio of merchant fees to finance charges in Citibank's profit mix, I wonder) is really interested in promoting moderation in all things. Smacks more of copywriter fresh into zen buddhism who spun it but good for a client looking for a new way in to its customers' hearts and wallets. In this case, they may be sellin', but I ain't buyin'...

Evelyn Rodriguez

Colleen: It's just a teeny trend now I admit - but that's how trends start - it's cropping up in the extremes of the younger and older generations with the masses in the middle still into the My Identity Equals My Stuff mode.

Yeah, there is actual quant data that I can't share on the younger set. Of course, much of it is survey stuff and I'm not always a believer that people answer surveys accurately (they answer how they'd LIKE to be perceived). However it is definitely showing up in data that 9/11 (um, the elections showed that) has shifted the values of younger generation towards issues of security, safety and faith/religion.

Citibank ad: I just liked the quote, probably not a good example of what I'm talking about. The Zenification of advertising is another story. Actions always speak louder than words. I think there's some proverb or something that goes along the lines: I can't hear what you're saying since who you are is deafening.

Gideon: Um, to be honest dunno. I should have paid more attention when I was watching Fight Club on home video instead of multitasking. It's probably more like Memento and Mulholland Drive than I thought.

Evelyn Rodriguez

The keyword in the title is 'existential crisis'. I suppose the main point I'm conveying is that I cannot fathom doing the kind of marketing that conveys that our identity is molded by the hipness, the prestige or the status (or not) of our things. And I think there is a small growing wee voice in the back of customers' mind out there that also wondering about identity and external motivation and a whole host of big life questions in a post 9/11 world.

Nigel Burke

Thought you might find this interesting from Demos in the UK

The death of cool (good riddance; long live communities of interest).

Cool is dead. Re-branding will no longer save you. The Face folded in the summer and now Adrenaline has now gone the same way too. Don’t be surprised if ID and Dazed and Confused take a trip down the same passage in the not too distant future. Every year the NME publishes a cool list of the 50 coolest people in music; this year featured a ludicrous 35 new entries. Admittedly music is my forte and perhaps not wholly representative of all cultural phenomenon but I can’t remember a band, DJ or musician in the popular (read “cool”) sphere who has maintained a credible profile in the press, for more than one album, since the turn of the century. Cool has literally eaten itself.

In its last years The Face feature a monthly barometer of things and people that were “up” in the cool stakes and things that were “down”. Towards the end it became impossible to tell the difference between the lists. Unwittingly the primary espousers of “cool” seemed to be admitting that our hyper-obseletism had killed any hope of a grand message of what might and might not be cool.

Back to the cool list. Interestingly top of the pile are The (nearly defunct) Libertines. They are perhaps to indie what Lawrence Lessig is to Demos. If you want to read the lead singer’s diary it’s online, if you want to see them you can go round to their flat and if you want to talk you can probably find a mobile number somewhere. Basically, the slippery world of remaining cool has been circumvented by building a community of interest. Building a cultural institution if you like (this is something we're thinking about in a new demos project inconcert).

I don’t know if Demos is or isn’t cool. But this does seem to suggest that if cool is dead, then in a certain sense, so are brands. If you can’t make something cool for more than 20 seconds, then you don’t really have a brand do you? (does anybody know if that McDonalds question mark worked?)

But if brands are dead, then are ideas too? And if ideas are dead, then does that mean think tanks are done for? Social Capital, Disorganisation, ProAms; is it just hype? Probably a step too far; it probably just means that ideas aren’t fortified by brands, but, in policy terms, by the people who ultimately will be affected by them.

Basically brands and cool don’t make policy, communities of interest do. But unfortunately brands don’t make communities of interest, we do. But how?

The Libertines and Razorlight publish their mobile phone numbers, aspires to let a community of thousands of writers edit its magazine, but for policy makers, is opening the door enough? If I don’t know how, how can I co-produce?

Jaded, at midnight, it seems hard to see credible sustainable policy into practice being facilitated by anything other than some kind of professional development. Out of steam. Help please?

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