Meredith C. Carroll: Toeing an undesirable line
I woke up with a start the other night, panicked after realizing that in just a year and a few months time, I’ll be aged out of the demographic most prized by advertisers – the all-important and beloved 18-34 group. Media conglomerates, advertisers and marketing groups spend endless time and resources thinking up clever new ways to woo me and my peeps because of the broad range of life changes we’re likely to experience – and the money we’re expected to spend – after we graduate from high school and before we hit our mid 30s. Between college, settling into careers, marriage and parenthood, the general consensus is we’re just busting with all kinds of consumer needs. Frankly, I enjoy being courted, and I’m not looking forward to being consolidated into the less attractive albeit still somewhat highly coveted 18-49 set. My conclusively informal research shows my life requirements and desires are not especially similar to most others in the broader age group bracket into which I’m about to be involuntarily lumped.
In some ways, my mom is more suited to my demographic than me. (Lord knows her checkbook is capable of much more than mine, although a soaking wet Nicole Richie carries more weight than my checking account.) Cosmopolitans are my mom’s cocktail of choice, while I opt for boring red wine (glass after glass) night after night (after night). She’s been stoked about her new Palm Treo Smartphone (although everyone who bought a phone in the past week has to be totally annoyed not to have known to hold out for the new iPhone), while I’ve been bragging about my new Cerama Bryte Cooktop Cleaner. Sure, my mom can e-mail, surf the web, text message, talk, take pictures and organize her life from the convenience a single, sleek wireless device, but I can practically see my reflection in my stovetop! Yet, I think my mom would be none-too-pleased to be associated with today’s younger demographic since “Murder, She Wrote” and “Masterpiece Theatre” remain tied as her favorite TV shows ever, and the top 10 rated programs on cable for the first week of this year among viewers aged 18-49 included two wrestling programs, two football games and three episodes of MTV’s please-God-put-it-out-of-its-misery-already “Real World” series.
First of all – wrestling? Memo to the demo: It’s fake! If you’re positively burning to see men in tights fighting for oxygen, the Downhill Costume Parade for Aspen’s Gay Ski Week starts at noon today. The only thing I would have, maybe, watched that made the top 10 list of cable shows is “Dirt,” the new FX series about the editor of a celebrity tabloid magazine. Except, I’d much rather read about the real celebrity actress who plays the editor than watch her play someone who stalks people like her in real life to provide trashy magazines for people like me. Maybe if Nielsen would start monitoring how many people are out there, like me, whose television viewing habits are pretty much limited to episodes of “Entourage” and “Sex and the City” on-demand through their cable providers, then I’ll start to feel as if I’m not alone in a consumer group full of overgrown adolescents who can’t seem to get decide if they relate more to Bart Simpson, Jessica Simpson or O.J. Simpson. If I were acting like the majority of my soon-to-be sole demographic, I suppose I would crave a shiny new SUV or something Italian, sporty and flashy, instead of being perfectly content with my three-and-a-half-year-old Subaru station wagon. I should probably want the newest iPod since mine is three years old. But with all the kids in the world that Madonna and Angelina Jolie have yet to adopt, it seems so wasteful to own more than one (iPod). Especially since mine can hold like 10,000 songs. Besides, I still don’t really know how to use it.
I’m pretty optimistic that with a little hard work and some marketing of my own, I might be able to sway some of the others in the 18-49 group into seeing the vendee world through my eyes so the full court consumer press comes after us with a vengeance despite the fact we have more collective wrinkles than the 18-34 group. It’s just going to take a little figurative elbow grease in the next year and a half for me to make the others see my perspective through their laser surgeried-eyes, which are forever hiding, along with their Botoxed-foreheads, behind those oversized designer sunglasses. Aspen resident Meredith C. Cohen writes a Friday column. E-mail questions or comments to email@example.com.Aspen resident Meredith C. Cohen writes a Friday column. E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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