The Wisdom of the Wizard – 2008: Year of Transition
It seems lately there is a plethora of advice on the economy, then there is the Wizard with his unique, believable take on a 40-year trend shaping society right now.
Last month, I introduced readers to Roy H. Williams, aka the Wizard of Ads, in announcing his illustration contest. Besides being an enormously talented and effective advertising professional, he is a best selling author, a deep thinker, a provocateur, a teacher, a romantic and a prognosticator. The Wizard Academy he spearheads is a place of learning like no other.
In a couple of recent posts here, you’ve read my thoughts on the economy with suggestions for adjusting your marketing plans. Katherine Tyrrell, who publishes the heavily trafficked Making a Mark blog. from across the pond in Britain picked up those posts and added her own insights and some other terrific links you will find informative and instructive. Her site is a veritable treasure trove of information for artists.
It seems lately there is a plethora of advice on the economy; then there is the Wizard with his unique, believable take on a 40-year trend shaping society right now. Here is a verbatim transcript of his January 20 Monday Morning Memo:
|2008: Year of Transition|
|In January of 2004 I launched a public presentation: Society’s 40-year Pendulum. Audiences from Stockholm to Sydney to Vancouver to Myrtle Beach will recall my statement, “2003 was the first year in a 6-year transition from the Idealist perspective to the Civic.”2008 will be the sixth and final year of that transition.Labels like Baby Boomer and Gen-X and Soccer Mom assume a person’s outlook is determined by when they were born. This is a very foolish assumption.
Look around and you’ll see that Baby Boomers aren’t Boomers anymore. Most have adopted an entirely new outlook and are becoming part of what’s happening now. By the end of 2008 there won’t be a Baby Boomer left in America. The last, reluctant holdout will finally admit that Woodstock is over, Kennedy is dead, and the Idealism of the 60’s was a wistful dream.
In their 1993 book, Generations, Strauss and Howe asserted that western society swings from an Idealist outlook to a Civic perspective and back again with the precision of pendulum. And at the bottom of each arc, the new views introduced by that generation’s youth will be adopted by the adults within 6 years of the tipping point.
1963 introduced the Idealist outlook we associate with “Baby Boomers.” 1968 was the final year of that transition. By 1969, everyone in America, regardless of their age, was seeing through rose colored lenses.
2003 was 1963 all over again, but this time we’re headed in the opposite direction.
2008 will be the last year of our transition to a Civic perspective.
Here’s what to remember when selling in 2008:
1. Efficiency is the new Service.
2. Authenticity is essential.
Naiveté is rare today. Your customer is equipped with a bullshit detector that is highly sensitive and amazingly accurate. And the younger the customer, the more accurate their bullshit detector.
When selling, remember: If you don’t admit the downside, they won’t believe the upside.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Leonard Pitts gave us an example of “keepin’ it real” when he opened his syndicated column recently with the following lines:
For the record, I consider Leonard Pitts to be one of the greatest living writers in the world today. Read his column and see if you don’t agree.
3. A Horizontal Connectedness is replacing yesterday’s vertical, social hierarchy. Labels like “white collar” and “blue collar” sound almost racist today. The new American dream isn’t about pulling ahead and leaving the others behind. It’s about becoming a productive member of the team.
“Winning” has become less important than “belonging.”
Listen to the streets. “I’m number one,” gets the response, “You ain’t all that, dog. You ain’t all that.”
Have you heard about the Hollywood writer’s strike? Expect to see Wal-Mart unionized in the upcoming years. Hide and watch. See if I’m not right.
4. Word-of-Mouth is the new Mass Media. Video games and cable TV stripped our kids of their innocence at an early age, but the Technology that robbed them of idyllic childhood also empowered them with cell phones, blogs and blackberries.
Viral marketing wasn’t created by the advertising community. It’s simply the result of a horizontally-connected generation (1.) sharing their happy discoveries with each other and (2.) trying to protect one another from mistakes.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS: It’s no longer enough just to have great advertising. When your customers carry cell phones and can email all their friends with a single click, you need to be exceptionally good at what you do.
5. Boasting is a waste of time.
IN YOUR ADS, do you include “proofs of claim” your reader, listener or viewer can experience for themselves?
6. Everyone is broken a little.
It’s time to take the advice of Bill Bernbach, “I’ve got a great gimmick. Let’s tell the truth.”
7. Keep in mind that during the next 12 months, as we complete the transition from the Idealist outlook to the Civic perspective, these trends will be accelerated by the facts that:
By the way, if I ever win a Pulitzer, I’ll immediately start wearing French shirts with 3-inch cuff links that spell out PULITZER PRIZE WINNER in diamonds.
But if what I said earlier about “the last, reluctant holdout” is true, I expect my attitude will change approximately one second before midnight on December 31, 2008.
Have a great week.
Roy H. Williams