“We see families with the mum upstairs and the daughter downstairs messaging each other on Facebook.” Jonathan Trimble, chief executive of creative agency 18 Feet & Rising (Marketingmagazine.co.uk, March 26, 2013)


Description

The present era is witnessing deep demographic changes and a redefinition of all kinds of roles. Specifically, the relationship between parents and children is profoundly changing, including parental attitudes that are different from yesterday and kids gaining influence and weight in the decision-making process. For the former, there is a tendency to go back to childhood, from behavioral and aspirational perspectives. Childhood memories bring reassurance, joy and comfort in a world where adult responsibilities are more difficult to bear and assume. Grown-ups need to let it go, lose control, regain some carelessness more often and, to this aim, they are incorporating child-like characteristics to their lifestyle. Some parents want to remain young and attractive so they take care of their appearance to the point that they look 10 or 20 years younger, dressing fashionably and appearing well-groomed and carefree – also called “yummy mummies”.

Childhood memories bring reassurance, joy and comfort in a world where adult responsibilities are more difficult to bear and assume.

Parents have more in common with their kids than ever before; they share clothes and even secrets. Furthermore, after having over-criticized the phenomenon, a growing number of parents and grandparents are befriending their teens on social networks, while some others post articles on their personal blogs. This is not to mention the so-called ‘idle parents’, those laid-back adults who avoid daily household chores and put the fun back into parenting.

Bringing some fun

Today, adults are re-evaluating theirs needs and are changing their lifestyle habits. Young adults aren’t the only ones returning to the nest: the number of 50-64 year old Californians living in their parents’ homes jumped 67.6% between 2005 and 2012, far outpacing the 33% rise in 18-29 so-called “boomerangs” (kids who return to the familial nest after having lived independently), according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The surge of mid-career returnees is a trick they have found to live rent-free as they plan their next career move and focus on their long-term goals, or simply want to spend the money they earn in fun activities like traveling, dining out, shopping high-tech stuff and designer clothes.

38% of Millennials and 32% of Gen X consumers have gone under the needle, according to a study published by Courier-Journal.com on 24 July 2014 and a surprising 15% of Boomers now sport them as well, and their ranks continue to grow.

Now that inking’s gone mainstream, and become mostly accepted in the workplace, adults are joining younger gens in getting tattoos. 38% of Millennials and 32% of Gen X consumers have gone under the needle, according to a study published by Courier-Journal.com on 24 July 2014 and a surprising 15% of Boomers now sport them as well, and their ranks continue to grow. This urge to ink might be explained by a need to express freedom or to keep up with cultural trends and flaunt that they are young at heart. In most of big cities’ nightlife, restaurants and bars are multiplying gaming activities through games, card games, improv games, blind tests, tournaments tarot, pinball and table football — for customers who like to remember their college years or who just want to have a fun time.

Childish cultures

If the relationship between advertising and humor is not new, the web has changed the way people laugh by creating a culture of irony, absurdity and regression. Generally, the now more horizontal relationship that has been established between brands and consumers on social platforms allows for more casual conversations, letting brands take a more daring tone of voice. And this audacity also affects offline communication channels. Initially confined to interpersonal exchanges, the LOL culture – the specific humor born with the birth of the Internet – combined with the emoticon or ‘emoji’ language, has notably been driven by the Millennial generation and is of increasing interest for brands that have integrated their codes. Meanwhile, in his book Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film (Broché, 3 juin 2014), Mark Marc Spitz has put a name on an emerging phenomenon, called “Twee”, that drives more empathy between marketers and young adults. It means affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint, and implies a healthy suspicion of adulthood; a focus on the essential goodness of innocence while kind of fetishizing the figure of the “geek”.

Initially confined to interpersonal exchanges, the LOL culture — the specific humor born with the birth of the Internet — combined with the emoticon or ‘emoji’ language, has notably been driven by the Millennial generation and is of increasing interest for brands that have integrated their codes.

In parallel, the creative world is experiencing the return of illustrations over photography. In the French media, bloggers like Pénélope Bragieu or Margaux Motin, comics author Bastien Vivès, or artist Jean-Philippe Delhomme are seriously imposing illustrations of press articles, people portraits, fashion design or reportages such as those published by magazine XXI. According to the results of editorial readership surveys, the use of cartoons in marketing and advertising is incredibly powerful as they are the most read and remembered part of any publication.

Featured examples

 

Bitstrips

Credit: Company.bitstrips.com

Credit: Company.bitstrips.com

Bitstrips is a smartphone app that allows its users to turn themselves and their friends into cartoon characters. The app allows you to put yourself and your friends in hilarious comic situations, show how you’re feeling without saying a word, and send greeting cards for any occasion. You can also share your Bitstrips anywhere on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, as well as through emails and texts.
Canada Canada, September 2013

 

Dubsmash

Credit: n-joy.de

Credit: n-joy.de

Dubsmash is a mobile app that has become very popular at the very end of 2014. Born in Berlin, Germany, its main purpose is to provide a ‘fun way to communicate’. It allows users to film a video selfie with accompanying audio from a recognizable movie, TV show, sports clip or pop song so they can mime along to a song or famous movie quote and – if timed correctly – it appears as though the subject is saying, singing or rapping the familiar words. French national newspaper RTL reported that the app was downloaded over a million times in 48 hours.
Germany Germany, November 2014

 

Innocence en danger

Credit: Innocenceendanger.org

Credit: Innocenceendanger.org

French children’s rights group “Innocence en danger” has launched a media campaign created by ad agency Rosapark that features a series of humans who have been reincarnated with a distorted and funny little yellow face that looks like a childish emoticon. The aim is to raise awareness about online child sexual predators and call for the vigilance of parents and education for children about such danger.
France France, January 2014

 

La Cupcakerie

Credit: La Cupcakerie’s Facebook

Credit: La Cupcakerie’s Facebook

French foodie Chloé S. has opened La Cupcakerie, a restaurant where customers can eat or buy all kinds of cupcakes. The two Parisian spots boast completely pink interiors that give the places a bubble gum and Barbie style. Chloé S. wanted to provide a doll house atmosphere like the one found in Tim Burton movies. Not only can customers eat their cupcakes on site or at home, but they also have the option to buy cupcake decoration accessories as well as take private cooking classes for bachelor parties or birthdays.
France France, December 2013

 

Camp Grounded

Credit: Campgrounded.org

Credit: Campgrounded.org

Camp Grounded is a summer camp for adults modeled on the scouting camps of the 1970s with the aim to reconnect with their childhood. In June last year, 200 lucky campers arrived at Camp Navarro in Anderson Valley, in California to relive the camping experiences of their youth. Camp administrators make it clear that Camp Grounded is not about networking, conferencing or cocktailing. It’s about sleeping in open-air cabins, bunk beds or their own tents, telling ghost stories, riding horses, skinny-dipping and all the other authentic experiences that have made summer camp memorable for generations. To complete the experience, mobile devices are forbidden.
United States of America United States, June 2013

 

Le Fantôme

Credit: Le Fantôme’s Facebook page

Credit: Le Fantôme’s Facebook page

Located in Paris, the Fantôme is a bar that brings its customers right back into their childhood by keeping them entertained all night long. Part restaurant, part bar, part arcade, Le Fantôme boasts a unique concept which allows people to sip a cocktail or eat a slice of pizza while playing 50-cent pinball or PacMan, table football and many other arcade video games. It’s marketed as the perfect place for those adults who still have a childish soul and want to keep it fresh.
France France, August 2013

 

Katy Perry – Roar

Young consumers who have embraced the Emoji phenomenon — the Japanese-import emoticons and pictograms that go far beyond basic smiley faces. — have inspired many artists. Those who want to appeal to this cohort are demonstrating their Emoji cred. American singer Katy Perry decided to tell the lyrics of her music video for “Roar,” the first single off her album, Prism (October 2013), through Emojis. The result is fast-paced and brightly colored, depicting an emotional and kid-friendly world.
United States of America United States, September 2013

 

Rilakkuma

 

Rilakkuma

Rilakkuma is set to become the next Hello Kitty, not only in Japan but everywhere  else in the world. Launched in 2012, its success actually dated from mid-2014. Rilakkuma” means “Bear in relaxed mood”. The Japanese character is continuously lazy and relaxed, totally stress-free and doing things at his own pace. His creators have managed to make him impossible to be hated by people. First reserved to teenage girls’ school bags, they are now addressing consumers of all ages that have a business and social life.  

Japan Japan, September 2014

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Use fun content and show empathy with the aim of democratizing and promoting your products.

2

Give your brand a more sympathetic image via these formats to strengthen the relationship between your brand and your customers. This will be especially useful for established major brands that are often seen as cold and hard to access.

3

Play the humorous card when you need to convey a sensitive message or reveal truth in a twist. Just the act of laughing means the reader has instantly picked up a key point of agreement you can build upon within your messaging.

4

Invest in humorous formats such as comics, cartoons, Emoji or simply illustrations when you need to prompt the viral pass-along of your campaign. Besides, they are easily compatible with digital devices such as tablets and 3D printers.

5

Stimulate the emotional part of every consumer. Illustrations have the great advantage of creating a unique expression area. They communicate to consumers a world of sensations that go beyond reality: they need to actively use their imagination, which stimulates the emotional part of the brain, thus creating an emotional link beyond the functional purchase.

Summary

  • Attitudes of older adults – mostly parents – are different from yesterday. There is a tendency to go back to childhood, be it either behaviorally or aspirationally.
  • Today, adults are reevaluating their needs and are changing their lifestyle habits: returning to the nest, mid-career returning, getting tattooed, etc.
  • The number of 50-64 year old Californians living in their parents’ homes jumped 67.6% between 2005 and 2012, far outpacing the 33% rise in 18-29 years old, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
  • In their communications, brands are using humor, coolness, empathy and informality through the LOL culture, the Twee phenomenon, illustrations, comics, cartoons etc.

Experts that we recommend

gilles-lipotevsky Gilles Lipotevsky
French philosopher & essayist about modern societies, globalization, consumption. Author of book L’Esthétisation du monde : vivre à l’âge du capitalisme artiste (Gallimard, 2013)
vincenzo-susca Vincenzo Susca
Italian sociologist & author of book collection Les Cahiers européens de l’imaginaire (CNRS, 2013)
peter-steiner Peter Steiner
American cartoonist and novelist, best known for a 1993 cartoon published by The New Yorker which prompted the adage “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.
penelope-bagieu Pénélope Bagieu
French illustrator and comic book illustrator