Watching media grow with technology
A CHINESE NEW YEAR STORY & THE GENERATION GAP ...
As tradition has it, the Chinese New Year is a season to visit relatives and friends, prepare numerous red envelops (ang paw) for the kids, and together celebrate unity, prosperity, good health, happiness and friendship to last throughout the year.
Being Greek but with Asian traditions by now, I was at a friend's house recently, celebrating this Chinese New Year of the Ox. While all of us adults were sipping our drinks eating and chatting for...well what else but the economy, all the kids were rather quietly gathered in one room. I went to check if they are alright, and I saw them clustered in three groups.
The first group had some rather elaborate devises that seem to have been transported by the Star Trek crew. These devises were in their hands and the kids were totally glued to their screens. When I peeped, I was stunned at the realism of the graphics, the content, and mostly the passion that the kids had for them. The next generation of video games has arrived at an earlier age, I thought...
The second group was in front of a lap top. A 5 year old boy, being the "driver" of the group, was navigating the mouse with amazing precision, and while taking orders from the rest of the kids around him, he was surfing the web for games, action hero sites and more...Right, I thought, I do not belong here either...I better leave before they ask me a question about the web that I can not answer...I am an adult after all and they are just kids...
The third group was clustered together and each and every one of them had a mobile phone in their hands. These young boys and girls were not even eight years old, but their thumbs were going faster than my fingers typing this story now. They were exchanging ring tones, wall papers and SMS's with speed that I have never seen before in my life. When I went closer, I realized that I should better go back to my adult group. These kids had mobile phones that were at least a notch higher than mine...
For all of them, little could the ang paw (the red envelops with money inside) do to distract them...I was not noticed (and even if I were, I would not be very welcomed in their world I am sure), so I went back to the adults, only to find that they had not moved one inch from the pessimistic conversations about the economy, and how we need to embrace ourselves...
Bless the kids...I thought...so blissful (and connected!).
So I went outside to the balcony for some fresh air, and right there in front of my eyes I had so many things to ponder about...
Knowing that I am getting older (or wiser as I would like to believe), firstly I thought about our generation gap. I remembered the two photographs of the 2 little boys that I have in my drawer. Here they are, to share them with you.
There is a 40 year difference in these two pictures, and I guess this is what some people call generation gap (no pun intended for the clothes outlet...). So here I was, in front of my room window, pondering life, wearing old clothes that mom had mended - as everything was recycled back then, and nothing was wasted. Life was precious. 40 years ago we had no TV, no video games, no mobile phones, and if anyone would show us a lap top, we would use it as a cutting board for bread.
You see, I grew up in a small village in a rural family in the island of Crete in Greece. Life was simple back then, with lots of hard work. We would gather grapes in September, olives in the winter, we would get one present per year, and one new pair of shoes. The winter was harsh, but the family was kept together with celebrations, community gatherings, and stories by the fire place (did I mention we did not have air-conditioners?).
40 years later, I took a photo of my son in front of the same window where the first photo was taken. I remember that when releasing the shutter I was thinking that I have to ignore the technological differences, and that I have to raise my son as a world citizen, and teach him to appreciate life, diversity, cultural difference and respect.
The balcony fresh air brought me back to the realities of now.
And thinking of what the generation gap might really mean, I could not help it but think about one of my favorite books by Alvin Tofler, Future Shock, and how this is related to what I do for a living, marketing and media, as well as the generation gap I was thinking above.
Alvin Tofler, back in the 60s, talked about how technology advances itself in a much faster rate that the rate it being adopted by society. How true that is, I thought, with the slight exception now that the young generation who are the digital natives in contrast with us, the digital immigrants, are born with it, living and breathing it and adopting it much faster that we are.
Marketing channels today have exploded with geometric proportions, fragmentation has become the norm, multitasking is the daily routine, and all there is left are some moments where we can grab consumers attention and engage with them. Alongside are the complexities of modern life, the fragmented environment, and the technological innovations that are making everything faster, longer lasting, smaller and more precise. The third screen is not only the first screen, but the ONLY screen. These little devices enable us all to combine the new and the old and they become a devise through which we manage our lives - presumably more efficiently and effectively.
It is not strange then why 95% of the respondents in a recent survey replied that in a case of fire they would go back to save their mobile phone, instead of their keys or their wallet.
But I'd rather stay away from statistical facts as they are all readily available for all. I would rather concentrate on the realities and the fundamentals that despite all technological advancements will stay the same. These fundamentals reside in two areas: our businesses as marketers, and our lives as people and citizens of our global village.
OUR BUSINESSES as MARKETERS
Despite the wonders of technology, our tasks will always remain the same: understand our target, read their psyche, comprehend their thinking when it comes to purchase decisions, and enable ourselves and our products to connect with them and help them live a better life, be better people, and achieve their goals and aspirations, whatever these might be. Only then we will be able to succeed as products and services of any kind.
To this extent, and especially during this year of a financially turmoil period, we should refocused our priorities to ensure that instead of being more occupied with the financial troubles, we stay more focused to our customer needs, we offer them the service and the product that enables them to fight all odds and be better, especially in a tough year such as this. Then success will come, guaranteed.
OUR LIVES as PEOPLE
I constantly think of the 4Ps of PEOPLE, PRODUCT, PROFIT and PATIENCE, not to be confused with the 4Ps of marketing, of course. In the heart of it all it is us, the people. And nothing can truly happen if we do not realize how powerful we can be and how we, each and every individual, can make a difference.
To this extent, we, as people, transcend technology. And this is where I believe that the perceived generation gap is mostly existent - in technology. Fundamentally, we, as people with values, aspirations, needs and desires, are the same. Only the benefits in kind change.
When I was a child, I was content with a hand made doll that my mother made from old rags. Today the rag doll is replaced by an action hero with lots and lots of peripherals, or a mobile phone, or a lap top (a desk top is too inconvenient it seems even for a seven year old...).
The values, nevertheless, stay the same. And it is our responsibility to instill these to our children, and make them appreciate what they have, and even more so what others, less fortunate, do not have!
My life journey has taken me further away from my birthplace, but yet closer to it in spirit. This life journey has helped me to make the world my home and the place where my son should be taught about life, family values, unity, respect, hard work and ethics.
And this life journey, in 3 continents and 6 countries, made me realize that actually, there is not a generation gap. That exists in material things. Not in values. Values are universal. Timeless. They do not recognize borders, race, tongue, or time. How can they?
I grew up with no TV, no internet and no mobile phone. But today I am happy when my son already surfs the net to find his favorite action heroes, and I love it when he talks to me on a mobile phone when I am on a business trip. He has DVDs, cable TV, internet access, video games, a digital watch, and lots and lots of toys that I did not even could dream of - and he is only four!
The values stay the same: integrity, friendship, respect, and hard work.
So I thought... things change, and things stay the same. It is up to us on how we instill the values that matter to the new generation that will build the future for our global village. If not, then tell me, I thought: what is so different about these two photographs?
And right then, at that moment to my surprise, the kids had "woken up"...they did come to the living room demanding their ang paw...which they received - but of course just so to collect the necessary currency to buy more games and talk time...
So, as the season demands it, let me wish you all, Gong Xi Fa Cai, and as a friend recently said, may the bulls during this year of the Ox bring us all the juicy steaks and none of the "other...bull stuff."
- OMD Malaysia
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