Meet George Jetson… his boy Elroy…


This is what I heard coming from the living room when my 7-year-old was watching TV the other day. Of course, I went in to watch a little too and told him how I had liked this show when I was his age.

It got me to thinking about how different generations often like the same things. We, as consumers, don’t really change all that much in a few generations. Sure, we have new technology, easier access to goods and services, and more choices for just about everything we would ever want, but what appeals to us often stays pretty much the same.

I guess that is why we have the saying of “what comes around goes around.” It happens in all areas of life, most notably in fashion design and music. The bones are the same but the skin changes to reflect the cultural shift that occurs over time.

This also is true in marketing and advertising. Many of the same strategies and messages resonate through the generations. The tactics change to meet the ever-increasing electronic life we all lead and the execution shifts to fit with current lifestyles.

In the turbulent mid ’60s the doughboy became the spokes-character for Pillsbury. He was a comforting image during a time of change in our country, with his tubby tummy and sweet giggle.

Geico has used the same strategy to create a character that appeals to the modern, informed consumer. The Gecko is sophisticated, discerning and a little aloof–but still charming. He is antithesis of the stereotypical insurance salesman, so we are comfortable with his pitch.

The Gecko also represents another generational change with his choice of media vehicles. Check him out on his new YouTube videos. The only Tube the doughboy knew was the analog picture tube.

You can see this in other campaigns as well. AT&T and Sprint have just swapped messages. In the 1980’s AT&T wanted you to “reach out and touch someone.” They played on the human desire to be connected with others. It was so easy to pick up the phone and chat. Today Sprint has the “Now Network.” It answers the same desire for human connection. It reinforces the immediacy and variety of ways Sprint technology allows us to communicate and gather information.  

In the ’80s Sprint represented the clarity of their service by having a pin drop.  Today AT&T has more bars to illustrate the availability and clarity of their service. Each campaign demonstrates the benefit of good access by using iconic imagery of the time.

What past styles, music, movies and ad campaigns will be revamped in the coming year? Personally, I plan on revisiting “Land of the Lost” on the big screen. I hope my son likes it too.

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