A questionnaire landed in my letterbox yesterday, from the local council. They are looking to improve the offer for "older citizens" in our town.
There are questions about mobility (or lack thereof), whether I'd want to live in a care home, whether I attend tea dances for seniors and whether I have an internet connection.
I have a strong desire to write "I'M NOT THAT OLD!" all over it.
It seems I've been put in a box (yet again) and it's reminded me of some new start-ups I've observed in the last few weeks.
First and fearless is FEARLESS. An agency that believes creativity is ageless and promotes that belief with a provocative, badass/punk attitude.
On the either side of the pond is London agency Ancient & Modern - proudly proclaiming that they're "the oldest advertising agency in London" and championing care, craft and ideas rather than quick hits and performance marketing. The attitude (and experience) here draws on the golden age of UK long-copy and TV ads of the 70s and 80s.
Personally, I find the look and attitude of these two new agencies very appealing.
But I'm not sure what I'd think as an ambitious young marketing manager - or whether I'd know what "Ancient & Modern" referred to.
Another approach is to focus less on the demographic profile of the agency founders and more on the opportunity that's up for grabs - the huge discrepancy between the wealth/income that people over 50 enjoy and the minuscule % of the marketing budget that goes their way.
That's the angle the new consultancy Flipside are taking - which is seems a wise move to me.
And yes, full disclosure, I do indeed have a personal connection to the agency ;)
Reading the stream of marketing newsletters and articles about younger people (or GenZ if you must), you'd think they are all utterly obsessed with social activism and eco-activism and think about precious little else.
I often wonder about the difference between my online reading (which is predominantly UK/US or other English language media) and what I observe around me here in Germany. So I was interested to come across the organisation More in Commonwho are dedicated to looking into the divisions in society, finding the source of these and working towards more social cohesion.
One report concentrates on Germany. The received wisdom in Germany is that society is divided politically (Right vs Left), geographically (former East vs West) and probably by age, although there isn't quite the obsession with Boomers, GenZ and the rest, which I find refreshing.
Instead of political views and demographics, More in Common groups people on the basis of values and beliefs - for example, authoritarian tendencies, perception of threat, personal responsibility and ability to take action and so on. Six groups emerge (I do question whether grouping people in this way and creating new "tribes" as well as talking about "fault lines" is possibly counter-productive, but I guess it's a means to an end). And what's interesting is that these 6 groups fall into three layers.
There are the Polarised, who are the loud and opinionated ones who dominate public debate and social media.
There are the Stabilisers, who are generally satisfied and optimistic, and could be called the backbone of society.
And then there are the Invisible Third - less integrated, less visible and less engaged.
There's little evidence of an East/West split, contrary to popular opinion.
How can marketers and brands use this? Well, instead of doing the easy and obvious thing, and getting embroiled in a debate with the polarised, through a "social experiment", for example, maybe brands can look to engaging and involving the Invisible Third, or harnessing the optimism and community spirit of the Involved and Established.
Going back to the young people, 45% of those aged 18 - 29 belong to the Invisible Third (Detached and Disillusioned).
Rather than listening to those that shout loudest, perhaps we should tune in to those on a different wavelength to see what they really care about.
Back when I was a young thing, being a vegetarian was part-and-parcel of a slightly alternative, leftie lifestyle that probably also included protesting at Greenham Common and throwing paint at women wearing fur coats. I don't think I knew what a vegan was until the mid-80s (although the term has been in existence since the 1940s) when a friend of mine announced she'd "gone vegan". I remember thinking that not being able to eat any dairy products was tantamount to torture, and that refusing to eat honey was simply a bit batty.
As the 80s rolled into the 90s and I was working in London, I'd occasionally saunter off to Neal's Yard or Cranksand gobble up a plastic (hmmm) takeaway dish of something healthy. These occasions, it has to be said, usually followed a night of over-indulgence, of which there were many in those days.
I'm not sure whether I paid for this book or whether it's something my flatmate left behind. But I still have it. Sarah Brown was, I believe, the first vegetarian cook to be let loose with her own TV show.
Fast-forward 30 years and I must say that I probably hear or read the word "vegan" about four times as often as the word "vegetarian". To say it's gone mainstream is an understatement. In this article - which is already a year old - we read that a quarter of 18 - 24s in Europe have gone vegan in the last year.
The "why?" behind all this must be the direct link that is now understood between diet and sustainability. The 1980s vegetarians rarely mentioned the connection. Sarah Brown's cookbook stresses the healthiness (for the individual) and cost benefits (also to the individual) as well as the "deliciousness" of a vegetarian diet. Many vegetarians at the time would cite cruelty of meat-farming methods as well as the health benefit, but these arguments could usually be brushed aside by anyone not keen to have a nut-roast forced upon them.
With figures such as these, individual diet and responsibility for protecting the planet go hand-in-hand:
And the mainstream are already on the case:
My view is that this is going to move quickly. I foresee a not-too-distant future where meat-eating is consigned to a collection of decadent, shameful, unjustifiable crimes including smoking, drinking, driving a car, watching 1970s comedy shows and taking a flight.
When I was little, I wanted to be a spy. I got off to a good start, studying Psychology at Trinity College, Cambridge but somehow got side-tracked into the wonderful world of advertising and marketing.
My children's books: