Article: The Lost Boys

By Flemming Wisler Futureorientation December 2006

Find the next generation of influential consumers and employees through the new media channels, and get first mover street credibility in branding and HR.

If you are over 35 and have teenagers, you probably face a double challenge. Not only do you face the classic generation gap. You also face a closed communication universe where you are not welcome and where you would probably be lost even if you were invited inside. Welcome to the first generation of true digital citizens who have grown up after the mobile phone, Internet, television advertising and parallel lives in cyberspace.

Sometimes it’s hard to grasp just how much media has changed in the last 10-20 years in the Western world. In Denmark, we have experienced a media revolution that has changed our daily life from an analog to a digital reality. A telephone with a dial will be an utterly unknown tool for your teenager, even though that device was often the center of our generation’s war with frugal parents. Who now can imagine inventive fathers who installed locks on the dial so that, while calls could be answered, none could be made?

A television with three channels – maybe not even in color – with transmission limited to 11PM and chemically rinsed of advertising will seem like a curiosity from a gas station internal video monitor. A home without a PC – not to mention the Internet – would be straight out of a John Wayne western. The only thing missing are horse and wagon.

It seems unthinkable now, but that was probably your reality if you were, like me, young in the 1970s and fascinated by the endless possibilities of the hot medium of the day – the cassette recorder. Today, the digital revolution has eliminated most analog devices and media. And change is no longer interesting – what is interesting is what we will use the possibilities for?

Catch me if you can

There’s going to be a media “clash of generations” in coming years. Decision makers and managers think they have power because they are at the “top.” But since youth largely doesn’t move in the same circles, media-wise, managers are wasting their time when they try to set the agenda.

There is divergence in media habits, but also between motivational factors between company products, values norms and branding and the next generations wishes and needs. Basically products, service and workplaces will be demanded on the basis of surplus, self-realization and change, which will challenge companies at a high level with regard to innovation, design, and “staging.”

Mediawise, the challenge is to be able to at all reach and, not least, affect the young global media surfers.

The Lost Boys

The first serious sign that something new was happening was noted in the US at the beginning of 2005, when it was shown that TV was losing ground, and that it was boys who were leaving it. Time was split over more media; gaming especially stole time from TV.

On New York’s Madison Avenue – the fortress of the American ad industry – these boys were dubbed the “The Lost Boys,” and the ad industry wrote the epitaph for the heretofore unstoppable ad format: the 30-second TV spot.

Here in Denmark, we are also discussing and measuring what is happening. The fact is, we are moving from a few media channels to many. And from predefined ad messages to sophisticated themes that involve the user and invite the user to participate.

The company that recognizes that the fight for the consumer and employee depends on innovative media strategies and intelligent messages has a head start in capturing the scant attention of youth.

Business model #3: New Media Branding

New Media Branding is about getting into the underbrush of the media landscape where Web 2.0 tools dominate, and where games, street art, music, events, sports events and culture, together with group networks and communities, can be new platforms for branding.

  • Supplement traditional media planning with creative new thinking that may not necessarily be measurable yet.
  • Be at the forefront of international media trends. They are your teenagers, after all.
  • Be first. Innovative use of media attracts a great deal of respect if it’s done right. Who was the first Danish company in Second Life?
  • Be cool. Don’t be pushy. If you block the view with your ad, you will lose respect. Don’t crash the party
  • be invited!

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