Saturday, August 30, 2008

Advertising Immaturity?

In case you were genuinely concerned, it’s official (according to author Michael Kimmel and MSNBC): Career aimlessness and beer and porn culture define ‘Guyland.’ Our latest crisis, brought to the nation via smart marketers and advertisers, is men’s failure to launch, to mature, to grow up.

It’s the subject of anguished musings among social scientists. Include parents who are burdened by the sons who either won’t leave home or have moved back in. Include women of certain ages who cannot seem to find a suitable relationship partner. (You can tell that this cyclically historical “debate” is becoming charged again because what one commentator calls pornography may be another’s healthy interest in the opposite sex.)

There are just as many smart marketers and advertisers who long ago recognized that boys will be boys – for as long as they can. Whether the product is beer, hotels or magazines with “mature” content, advertisers go all out to appeal to guys who, goldurn it, just don’t want to take on adult responsibilities. And yes, if you’ve clicked through the links in this ‘graph, you may notice a preoccupation they have in common – why do you ask?

As a marketer, I recognize that there’s significant opportunity to advertising to the guys who don’t want to grow up. As an older marketer, I regret that I didn’t take more time 30 or 40 years ago to delay the onset of responsibility.

Concerned social commentators, this agonized focus is a waste of time – mainly yours at this point, although if it becomes a real crisis like childhood obesity (right), then the government is going to get involved. Wait, that may be a good thing: Special programs for guys who haven’t matured, teaching them how to be responsible adults. Federal funding! I love the smell of Federal funding.

Even Kathleen Parker has waded in on my side of this growing debate, I think. At least that’s one way to read her latest book, Save the Males. Heck, I’d settle for a woman who can tune my Caddy’s 32V Northstar engine. I can barely find the latch for the hood (hence my constant enjoyment of the Brad DeGroot-Toni Daytona plotline in “Luann”).

Advertisers have a job to do and it’s not selling immaturity. It’s to help sell their products and services in a way that creates positive interactions between their stakeholders and the brand. Remember that – and the name of the brewski – every time you laugh at a beer commercial.

“Luann” Cartoon © Greg Evans, 2008. All rights reserved.

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