Friday, August 14, 2009

What the Folk?

"Don't you feel it growin, day by day, people gettin ready for the news" ...

Can a single YouTube visit help you understand where an entire generation is coming from?

A 24-year old, Gen Y son directs a Baby Boomer father to check out an Internet video featuring, Grammy Award winners, Flight of the Conchords.

Few of us who were born in the 50's or 60's own any of their CD's or watch their hit series on HBO, but their brand of brilliance has generated global notoriety and international acclaim. New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement bill themselves as "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo".

To understand a generation, you need to understand their music. The musical roots of the boomers can be traced to Elvis, the Beatles and the Stones. Swivelling hips, moptops and mod clothing scandalized nations of fuddy-duddy parents who screamed outrage while clinging to their crew cuts and Bing Crosby records.

Today if you're a Boomer parent or a business owner, it might help if you could "get" where musicians like Bret and Jermaine are coming from and why your sons,daughters and their text-happy friends are buying what F.O.T.C. is putting down.

Bret and Jemaine were college flatmates, studying film and theatre before forming F.O.T.C. in 1998. Originally they attempted to write "serious" songs, but when their music was misinterpreted as parodies they read the market and switched to the comedy genre.

F.O.T.C. speaks to a 24-yearold Gen Y son who is part of a group more than 3 times the size of Generation X, and almost as big as the Baby Boomers at 72 million. Gen Y grew up on-line and grew up fast; witnessing corporate collapses, dot com busts and more than their share of family life disrupted by the devastation of divorce. As kids they were encouraged to speak up and got used to questioning their parents and challenging the status quo.

Marketers and Employers share similar challenges when it comes to "getting" where Gen Y is coming from.

It doesn't matter whether you are trying to sell to Gen Y or get them to work for you, this bunch is more jaded, irreverent and virtually bulletproof when it comes to being persuaded by traditional marketing gimmicks or bullshit corporate speak. They see right through any advertising that shrouded in mouldy, cheesy hype and they have grown up knowing there is more to life than just work - and life comes first.

Gen Y wants it real and irreverant. Warts and all. In real time.

What are you doing to plug in to a generation that is less than impressed by your "seniority" and judging you instead on "quality?" How many Gen Y's are you connecting with these days and have you taken time to study their heroes?

Do you know what inspires them?

And what messages can be detected through their music?

"What the people need is a way to make em smile, ain't too hard to do if you know how. Gotta get a message, get it on through, oh now, mama, don't you ask me why"

P.S. ...Did you find it remarkably clever that Bret and Jermaine's video offered nothing in the way of foul language? Is it just coincidence that "Business Time" happens on a Wednesday, universally known as "Hump Day"?

Hmmm ...

Originally posted October 7, 2008

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