One World Is Too Young – Another Is Too Old

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This week I spent some time in one of the largest advertising agencies in the UK. I always love going to agencies. There is a lot of energy – people rush around – there is a lot of laughing. How could you not find that motivating. The downside, for the agencies, is that the people that work there are, with very, very few exceptions, half the age of most of the people that buy the products they are trying to promote.

With all of the goodwill in the world, there is no way that they can possibly feel what it is like to be one their customers, or more accurately, their client’s customers. I am sure they try their best but when the whole culture is young you have to be exceptional to understand the alien world of their parents and grandparents. And let’s be honest, like in most worlds you have to expect the average and then be surprised by the exceptional.

At the other end of the spectrum is academia. I have just been reading in Nature an article called; “sticking around.” The bottom line is that in the US and Europe the older senior academics are not budging and working on past retirement. To make matters worse, the financial pressures on academia means there are less full-time positions. Result – a fall-off in people wanting to enter a profession that is insecure and blocked by the oldies at the top.

Neither of these situations are healthy. Marketers should be better balanced to relate to the people they serve and not having to rely on their mum and dads plus assorted uncles and aunts as their experience of the people they are aiming to influence. Equally, it is bad and dangerous to have such a distortion taking place in academia. At a time when much of what academics do is highly questionable in its worth they should be seeking to increase their relevance. That is not going to happen with a lot of crusty oldies at the top.

Image via flickr

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