I attended a marketing meeting yesterday discussing how to market this site, how to target a group, how to attract brand names to that target group, and it got me thinking about how we market things in general. Marketing gurus need to find target audiences for whatever brand they are trying sell. Target the brand and find your core audience and then smack that audience over the head with your pitch and pomp. Eventually they will see the value in that product or service or website and all will be right in the universe.
While I find value in that for a revenue stream, I also loathe it for being so narrow-visioned on a practical front. Why can't you just like or use something regardless of who you are or how old you may be? Can I not enjoy Lucky Charms anymore because I'm forty-something? What group do I belong to? Do I even have a marketing group that these number crunchers fret and crunch over?
My g-g-g-genration is too young for Baby Boomer status and too old for the Slacker generation. We don't have a niche that Madison Avenue has ever really been able to define.
We are the 'Tweeners!
We are so overly mistaken for being another generation when we are clearly not. We were born in the late '50s/early '60s ('56-'65) and still think that Disco sucks, Farrah was our prepubescent wet dream poster girl, and the original Scooby Do our cultural hero.
But who defines the 'Tweeners?
Well, I must give credit to my friend Catherine Sands. She said to me one day, "Why don't you write a book for the 'Tweeners," and then launched into her succinct definition. I was inspired. I finally had a group to which a book publisher's marketing division could market. So I began churning out all kinds of book proposals that went nowhere fast. What was wrong? Couldn't they read 'tween the lines? Was I too old for my peers in mind and spirit? I can't be in my forties and think like a 40-year-old, I opined. I need to dance with a younger audience. I need to run naked -- hey, we 'Tweeners practically invented streaking in the '70s -- and commune with the youthful folly and hip music and hipper clothes and postures of today. After all, all of the cool things we wore in the '70s are fashionable again today.
Growing up we had bicycles with banana seats, loved The Monkees, space food sticks, Tang, Peter Frampton, silly putty. We read Creem and not Rolling Stone. The Love Boat was our favorite voyage. And speaking of television shows... c'mon, admit how much you really dig That 70's Show.
Super Bad John McEnroe is one of ours, the coolest tennis player ever to argue an errant line call, and a neighbor of mine. And check this out, he's married to former Scandal lead singer Patty Smyth, another 'Tweener. Ditto for jazz giant Wynton Marsalis. And letâ€™s not forget little Michael Jackson, although I think some of us may have abandoned him as of late. (Please provide me your favorite 'Tweeners in the comments section below.)
But at least, if all else failed, I had a group to which I belonged -- a 40-something guy who worked hard and played hard and on occasional used recreational drugs and tried to score chicks, and loved rock and roll and didn't aim for much more. We were not the polemic radicals of our older brothers and sisters who burned draft cards and bras. We didn't have be-ins or Haight Ashbury or Kent State or Woodstock or Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, et al. We had punk rock, lots of it, and we adopted Billy Idol as our rock and roll patron saint even though he was born in 1955. (Yeah, lame as it may be, he's the sneering 'Tweeners' Ozzy! Though I prefer the darker ruminations of 'Tweener rocker Nick Cave.) We had Disco, but I know I didn't love it. Well, maybe Chic or Travolta strutting down the street in Saturday Night Fever to that classic Bee Gees tune "Stayin' Alive." And he was born in '54 so he's technically a Baby Boomer, too.
I would like to propose this: if 60 is the new 50, and 50 is the new 40, then for us 'Tweeners, 40 is the new 30 and my generation is stepping on the marketing toes of another generation again cuz we ain't no stinking Gen Xers. Wait, that can't be right. That means we don't have a niche again. How can I possibly market anything to anyone if I don't know where I fit in? Who my group is? Do I have to stay in this group or can I reapply for status in another? Maybe me and my fellow 'Tweeners are cross-generational?
CONVERGE is the Word!
Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was an agent at the William Morris Agency!