lhowell

Archive for February, 2007|Monthly archive page

Self-Indulgence and Vanity on the Rise…Why Big Media Should Care

In marketing, narcissism, reality TV, research, social networking, super bowl on February 28, 2007 at 5:15 am

Before I began to peck away at this post, I thought long and hard about the most recent study that reports that vanity is on the rise among college students and more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors. I had this huge thought bubble above my head that said “WOW”.

What makes this worthy of note is that the researchers used an instrument called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. Now, I graduated from High School in 1982, so they just missed me, but what is the line between positive self-esteem in young people and being narcissistic, self-centered, and egotistical and perhaps a bit like Paris Hilton? It’s interesting because if someone asked me to name someone that fits the survey findings, it would be her, to be sure.

So, I did a little research of my own to find out about this potentially dreadful disorder. And yes, there is an official disorder, called narcissistic personality disorder. Now, does this mean that Michael Jackson, and many of the reality TV stars, or lonelygirl15, and anybody with a pulse shooting his or her own video and posting it to one of the hundreds of video sites, has this dreadful disorder?

Now, if you are a big media company, how should you process this information to help you clients enjoy new profits and to introduce successfully new products? This is very serious business if you are a big media company. The challenge, is that many of the social networking mediums promote exclusiveness “inviting people to be part of one’s network” rather than inclusiveness “welcoming” anyone. To illustrate, my favorite cousin, who I still call “squirt” even though she is now 25, gorgeous and 5 ft. 9 inches tall, told me that she would have to accept me as her friend when I went to her MySpace page. She did accept me into her inner circle. But for large media, the opportunity is to create a powerful, new and compelling paradigm shift.

Big media has to market based on two factors. The first, I call the experience spectrum. Second, I call the recommendation spectrum.

The experience spectrum helps to unlock how the different context of people and their experiences influence decision-making or product selection. For example, if you were raised poor or middle class and hit it big, you are likely to want designer labels and expensive merchandise. Can you say, bling, bling. On the other hand, when you see people who have matured who might fit this mold, they have a powerful and uncanny insight into how young people think, act, behave and what they desire. Think Russell Simmons, for instance.

The problem for big media is that they tend to hire MBAs who think they know it all, and whose results demonstrate that they clearly do not. What’s more, companies insist on hiring people, not for their depth of insight based on the “experience spectrum” but rather where they got their MBA. This requires a gargantuan paradigm shift for big media and marketers that rely on big media to get out the word about their products. So, what you have is constant reshuffling at firms like NBC Universal, Yahoo, News Corporation and so on. The root cause is that most of the women and men are well-heeled MBAs really don’t have flava and depth in their insight; a spreadsheet and competitive analysis has limited payback and even more limited of a shelf-life. I guess that’s why Chelsea decided working for a hedge fund is better than working at McKinsey.

The recommendation spectrum is next. Simply, this is the powerful influence that people’s experiences with a product or service have. Here’s a thought, during episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, allow the viewing audience to actually vote on commercials in real-time. You ever attend a webcast and the moderator asks you to vote and you see the results right before your eyes, just like that. Input your age, gender, and response to the commercial. The value proposition is huge. The intelligence would be more valuable than a Super Bowl spot.

This is the kind of tectonic, paradigm shift bid media needs to promote. The ad industry, networks, marketers and academics should examine this and try it. People love polls, if they are simple, and easy to understand. This strategy strips away the whole notion of vanity and narcissism to how people think and how they really feel. I truly believe that young people want to have authentic and engaging conversations, you just have to keep it honest.

For big media, technology plans and social-networking must include more thoughtful attention to the “experience spectrum” and the “recommendation spectrum”. To be sure, cites like Yelp are beginning to figure out this whole recommendation thing, so check them out. Why couldn’t the same model be applied to local television shows and based on your location (you local cable operator knows where you are) you could interact directly by rating an experience you had or what you like in restaurant or family entertainment experience during summer break. Let me know what you think and think big thoughts.

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MySpace is Ruining Today’s Young People

In big media MySpace advertising global, ecomagination, GE, green, social networking, social-tainment on February 23, 2007 at 8:29 am

Here’s proof. Read this highly credible source and have a talk with yourself if you’ve been naughty or speak with your kids and don’t take for granted what they tell you.

Challenge for big media: sex and vanity sells so much so that it is all encompassing. You can to a high quality site like Brightcove, and the sexual images simply grab you. Which is why MySpace will likely never see the GE ecomagination campaign on their site–perhaps, I might be wrong about this, but companies like GE won’t have anything to do with this type of marketing. So, what Internet properties lends itself to a high quality audience that has relevant messages, and would attract this type of campaign?


Try, www.spangy.com or www.care2.com. Spangy is an upstart, and Care2 has been around for a while and claims to have over 5 million members.

Unfortunately, young people, at least in the United States and perhaps the UK can’t seem to get beyond, wanton hedonism, vanity, sex and over indulgence. This presents a vexing challenge for big media who incessantly try to crack the code with this demographic. Forget it! As my blogging buddy Brian Balfour would suggest, quality of traffic is more important than quantity. So, while everyone salivates over the millions of eyeballs of this lustful demo, one can only ask, “show me the money” and truthfully, it’s really not there. Best wishes and let’s hear back from you.