Forward to the past

If you grew up in the sixties or seventies it is pretty much certain that a grandparent said ‘ Why do you watch so much TV? When we were your age we played games, sang round the piano, or the ukelele, or at least talked to our friends.’

Well, welcome to Halo, Guitar Hero and Facebook. Almost without exception marketers see these activities as new and consequently hard to understand. Many parents, those who grew up themselves in the sixties or seventies also find them difficult yet it seems that nothing could be simpler.

Multiple generations who equated leisure time with activity were succeeded by a single generation that preferred passivity. In research conducted in 1970 a question was asked ‘what did you do last night other than watch television?’ Given that only 5% of respondents actually did anything else the sample was small and of those half were not at home leaving 2.5% reading books or talking.

It is less than surprising therefore that technology has created an updated version of post war leisure pastimes and that as a result the population has embraced activity once again.

The bad news for brand owners is that activity is harder than passivity when it comes to capturing attention for commercial messages and thus the bar is raised and it’s a bar that marketers and their agencies have to jump.

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