The internet effectively differentiates users by their degree of aptitude, which in many instances reflects generational differences. As marketers we can learn a lot by the ways that different segments of society are utilizing the web and apply these lessons to our own business objectives. Two current examples come to mind that focus on younger internet users, who are incredibly important and for whom the internet continues to play a central role in all aspects of their lives.
The first emanates from the political arena. A lot has been written about the disparity between John McCain and Barack Obama relative to their use of the internet and social media during this election season. The Obama campaign has been way ahead of the McCain team with respect to leveraging the web, email, blogs etc. One telling example I’ve noticed since signing up for emails from both groups is that Obama is sending out personalized emails, while McCain’s begin with salutations like: Dear Supporter, Friends, etc. In addition, I am probably receiving 3 emails from Obama for every 1 that McCain is sending out (for good or for bad).
Given the significance of the younger demographic in this closely contested election and the fact that McCain is perceived by many to be computer-illiterate, it is incredible that his campaign has not over-compensated with a more robust effort to demonstrate their online proficiency. A serious opportunity is being missed that plays into some of the concerns of the voting public, particularly the younger generation that is so computer savvy.
Now Into Another World…
Does anyone know the significance of Thursday evenings on television? If the answer is “no,” I would encourage you to ask your children. If they are in the ballpark age of my 8 year old, I’ll bet they know the answer. It’s Total Drama Island (TDI), which airs on Cartoon Network. If you have any reservations about the popularity of the show and its connection to the internet, try typing the letters “tot” into the Google search box. Total Drama Island is the first suggestion offered, which indicated it’s current popularity. You needn’t even type in the whole word. The website is promoted throughout the show and you can actually watch past episodes on the Cartoon Network site, although interestingly, you can not from the TDI site.
The show is a cartoon take-off on the hit (adult) show Survivor. On par with the zany creativity of the show are the ways that the creators and Cartoon Network have integrated the web into their strategy. The site, http://tdi.cartoonnetwork.com/ notes that:
“Total Drama Island is Cartoon Network's first animated reality show! Join the drama online by exploring the camp, meeting team members, and playing free online games. Keep checking back to find out who will win, only on Cartoon Network!”
The web is changing our world in so many ways, it’s challenging to grasp the whole picture, as it’s weaving into every fabric of our lives. Our children are growing up under a very different set of social / technological circumstances. Total Drama Island, like so much else today makes the Jetsons seem like the Flintstones. Although I thought the show was quite entertaining, I am not advocating that you actually carve out time to watch it. Rather, I am suggesting that you invest the time in studying how the web continues to integrate itself into our everyday lives – especially the lives of the younger generations.