On a recent drive I caught a brief look at a perplexing
billboard. I can’t recall what it was advertising –apologies for focussing on
the road – but I did notice the largest font words asking “Over 55?”
It seems there is no real difference between being 55 years old,
90 years old or beyond. It is assumed that once the magical age of 55 is reached
all consumers share the same values, lifestyle, outlook and consumption
patterns. At least that’s the conclusion once can draw from this billboard and,
surprisingly, most other advertising and marketing campaigns.
It appears that young Australians have many bones to pick with the media. They resent the way in which they are commonly portrayed – lazy, spoilt, selfish and drunken hoons. Far from it if you ask them – this is precisely what we did.
For our just published study Gen Y/X – Has Reality Bitten? we asked 18-30 year olds to bring along to our group discussions in some media cuttings and imagery which unfairly portrays their generation. We also asked them to bring in those images that reflect their lifestyle more accurately but which are rarely seen.
The Boomers once thought they were hip and cool. Mostly they still think they are. They were edgy, liberated and rebelled against their parents’ outmoded social mores and values. They spoke openly and behaved in ways their own parents would not have dreamt of. Their media was cutting edge. Their fashion and music were once considered outrageous and pushing society beyond its comfort levels. Recall that the Rolling Stones were forced to sing “Let’s spend some time together” instead of “Let’s spend the night together” on the Ed Sullivan show in 1967.
Fast forward to today and suddenly the Boomers echo sentiments of their own parents’ generation. However far they may have pushed social boundaries , it is nothing compared to what their grandkids have done. They have gone much too far for their sensibilities. Prolific swearing, skimpy clothes, sexualised imagery, laughing at inappropriate things have turned the Boomers into relative conservatives.
With most of my studies I tend to ask about favourite television programs, to see what’s broadly popular and, more interestingly, to gauge why. It has always been the case that a few programs would stand out. These would be mentioned often and by many people. They were fodder for the “water cooler” conversation at work the next day.
Speaking to young Australians in their early 20s it seems media fragmentation is finally here. Programs like Family Guy and Jersey Shore (and its off-shoots) get a few mentions, but the enthusiasm is no longer universal, and they are not all watching these programs at the same time.
Ask mums about the debate to ban junk food advertising during kids’ television shows and the answers may surprise you. You might imagine them to be up in arms in support of it. Rather they become angry about the debate itself.
Overall mums would concur their lives would be somewhat easier without the advertising of unhealthy products to kids. It would mean less nagging and consequently less having to say “no”, which isn’t fun, especially at the end of a long day. But in reality they’re just not that fussed about it. It’s no big deal.