Jan 9, 2008

Look At Me, I’m Marian Popcorn!

Here’s a half dozen trends I see coming down the pike over the next year or so. (I mean hey, I have as much chance of being right as anybody.)

1. UPPER MIDDLE CLASS ANGST LEADS TO A POPULIST RESURGENCE: As everyone from lawyers and doctors to ad guys and record company execs continues to feel the affects of the growing gap between Wall Streeters, 2.0 Winners and the rest of us, the top 9.5% of the income pool will join with the bottom 90% to wreak vengeance on the billionaires. Okay, maybe not vengeance. But look for an increased top tax bracket on incomes over say $500K, taxes on stock options and other get-out-of-paying-taxes tricks of the rich and famous, as well as reinstatement of the estate tax.

2. EXPERTS ARE THE NEW BLACK: There are only so many amateur videos you can watch. Or badly written blogs you can read. Experts of all sorts stage a resurgence, as people crave well-written articles by people who know their subjects, and well-crafted videos by people who have some experience. Some mainstream publications get in on the act, finding talented amateurs (aka “fresh voices”) and mixing them in with their existing staffers. Grateful consumers, tired of wading through 3,000 Google hits for “review of new Ryan Gosling movie” respond with fervor.

3. MAP READING SKILLS EVAPORATE: Blame it on ubiquitous GPS systems. People’s overreliance on the devices means they forget even simple routes (like home to supermarket) and become slaves to the dulcet tones of the GPS babe. This is a similar trend to the way no one remembers phone numbers anymore thanks to cell phones, to the point that teens and college students form groups on Facebook to re-collect their friends' phone numbers when they lose their cell phones.

4. GREEN BECOMES THE NEW CLASS MARKER: As upper income consumers gladly pay through the nose for any and all products alleged to be “green” or “organic,” the lower end of the income spectrum rebels, seeing these products as the pretentious province of much despised yuppie scum and merely another overpriced marketing gimmick.

5. NEW LOVE IS FOUND FOR TV COMMERCIALS: Media companies find ways to include advertising on TV shows no matter what the delivery method is. Thus lessening the effect of the defection of the upscale viewing audience to iTunes, On Demand, Hulu and DVRs. Marketers simultaneously realize that few advertising vehicles deliver as much reach as TV and that chasing consumers through an ever-shifting maze of blogs, virtual worlds and social networking sites just isn’t worth the effort.

6. ACCEPTANCE OF ONLINE ADVERTISING AS A BRANDING DEVICE: Marketers finally realize that people aren’t going to click away from a website they’re engaged with just because they see an banner ad for a product they might be interested in, thus signaling the slow death of the term “click through rate” as banners are relegated to the same “awareness building” tactic status as billboards and other outdoor media.


HighJive said...

Sorry, MPop, you’ve still got a ways to go before you rival Marian. The woman did, after all, identify wiggers. (Then again, for a world-class futurist, her website looks pretty 20th century.)

Anonymous said...

wasn't it faith popcorn? never mind.

great predictions. find myself nodding in agreement.

i read recently somewhere that America has become socialism for the rich (Oooh we have to bail out the hedge funds) and a free market for everyone else (can't declare bankruptcy anymore etc). witness the spectre of our fearless alleged christian leader vetoing health care for poor children on "philosophical" grounds. philosophical? he can't even spell that. disgusting.

totally agree on the whole internet not being actually worth it. blasphemy i know but if you've actually tried to wrangle that beast to the ground for branding you know it's a labor intensive effort that yields questionable returns. mass marketing needs a mass medium. you can't sell budweiser with a facebook app. and anyone who says you can should please demonstrate it pronto.

Anonymous said...

Great predictions, especially the backlash against non-experts.

The issue with the democratization of media (blogs, UGC, etc) is that it democratizes talent with the unintended consequence of cultural flattening. No more elites, no more masters, just the flat voice of (often uninformed) opinion. It becomes of buzz of white noise.

And then you realize just how important the experts, the talented, the elites really are.

Alan Wolk said...

@HJ: Did she invent the actual term "wiggers" or just publicize the fact that such people existed and this is what the other kids were calling them? It's unclear from her website.

Anonymous said...

And most of Marian's "predictions" have been spot on. She's brilliant and the best in the business.

HighJive said...


Salzman is not clever enough to come up with a name like that. What makes her contention that she identified the “trend” so outrageous is that, well, she’s a delusional moron. Every Black agency in America was telling clients about it—at least a decade before Salzman’s prediction. I find the woman to be stereotypical of the White agency establishment—or even the White establishment, period. If they stumble across something that others have already known about forever, they don’t hesitate to take credit for the discovery. Put on her the list along with Picasso, Elvis, Madonna and more. Actually, don’t do that. At least those characters gained international fame. Salzman is just a glorified poseur with a staff doing google searches for her. She allegedly alerted clients about wiggers and more, yet she never can show evidence of how she affected work. There are zero ads or promotions for her to point to and say, “I influenced that.” Why? Because she didn’t influence shit.

Anonymous said...

great stuff -- popcorn would have charged xerox about a mil two for that -- and taken seven months. all you're lacking is a handle. how about -- cresting?
vesting? pixel-burn?

Howard Greenstein said...

>Marketers simultaneously realize >that few advertising vehicles >deliver as much reach as TV and that >chasing consumers through an >ever-shifting maze of blogs, virtual >worlds and social networking sites >just isn’t worth the effort.

this sounds a bit too much like the old "I wish things could go back to the 1980s when there weren't so many networks and cable companies to choose from, and I could just place my ads.
Ever since we've gotten Tivo (at the instance of my Wife, no less, who also threw out the Cablevision PVR and demanded TivoHD when we got HD), we rarely see commercials. They have to be GREAT, and make a quick impact for us not to ignore them.
This shows the value of storytelling, visual engagement, and also of making your brand known elsewhere, because I'm not going to stop fast forwarding unless I have a reason.

On the flip side, helping me find a way to interact with your brand, that gives me value, via a social network, blog or something else is worth it, but it will take more time and effort. And I don't mean Facebook Social Ads!

Alan Wolk said...

Come on Howard, dissing TV is so 2007.

I've owned a DVR of some sort for the past 5 years and I don't watch commercials on shows I've Tivo'd ever. Not sure how you determine
which ones are worth watching at 40 mph. And please avoid words like "storytelling" on here. We've determined that's the king of meaningless buzz words du jour.


Seriously though, DVR penetration is still fairly minimal. I can't tell you why- I found it fairly life-altering, but remember that you and I are not representative of the target.

What's more, people watch TV commercials when they're watching the news or sports, two things they want to watch live. And as I note in the post above this one, Americans will be watching lots of news and sports this year.

TV is not the be-all it once was, but it's a great way for large national brands to reach a large national audience.

The problem with "a way to interact with your brand, that gives me value" is that everyone has their own definition of "value" - and for many marketers the chase isn't worth it.

That's not to say that we should dismiss Web 2.0, just that we need to take into account that it's more successful as a research tool than as an advertising vehicle. Because Your Brand Is Not My Friend™, and sometimes the value your brand is giving is to just sit back and listen to what we have to say.

Howard Greenstein said...

You and I have different definitions of storytelling. Your post is most enlightening regarding how others are using this buzzword.
I look at it more like the caveman did - a way to pass along concepts in a compelling way so no one gets killed by the lion down near the river - not a way to create lies and package them.
Also, I do believe with you that "A brand is not my friend" in a facebook sense. But, I disagree that there's no way a brand can be my friend ever. Yes, many marketers are using this social concept in completely the wrong way.
It's up to you and me and the people who get it to teach them the best way.
Conversation and storytelling may have turned into over used buzzwords, but the actual act of listening to customers and having a discussion with them, and then giving them information and products they in a compelling way - well, that's how I want to make a living.

Alan Wolk said...

@Howard: Thanks for the interest. What line of work are you in? Do you work for an agency?

As for brands being friends, that's limited to a handful of very special brands I call "Prom King" Brands. You can read the whole theory here:

Anonymous said...


i don't think toad is being nostalgic or luddite.

having experienced both tv and online, TV is by far the more hospitable medium for branding.

and perma-optimistic ad folks declaring that we are in a golden age of advertising frankly don't know what they're talking about. it isn't.

TV needs advertising. the internet doesn't need advertising. and we all know people don't like advertising getting in the way of their fun.

Anonymous said...

Being more a pastist than futurist, I am still trying to figure out what happened and why.
Equality is very easy to achieve:
just destroy everything and reduce
everyone to nothing.
What is hard to achieve is prosperity, and the moments when there has been a prosperous population are few and all between 1880 and today and the places fewer still.
Paul Krugman thinks that there have been three periods when the U.S. was close to economic equality. He writes of them nostalgically even as he grins widely at the 91% top income tax rate that once was.
The three periods of Krugman's Halcyon days? The Great Depression, World War II, and the Sleepy 50s from which JFK awoke the nation by cutting the top rate from 91 to 70 on the way to "getting the country moving again."

Anonymous said...

Having just been eliminated from an online poker satellite tournament to gain entry to the prestigious Dortmunder Tournament on Full Tilt Poker, I had a thought on a related matter.
I have gone on Honeyshed a few times with mixed feelings, but occasionally very good ones.
Has anyone suggested---either ironically, seriously or sarcastically---that they take 20 million dollars and produce a TV campaign to run for a few days that introduces the idea to as many people as possible.
Or is the idea already dead?

Anonymous said...

tom brings up an excellent point. whatever else, honeyshed was well produced and better than most. the excellent brian beletic was at the executional helm. it had to be good to some extent. and is.

but to expect it to just magically "go viral" would have been foolishness. and that's what they did.

honeyshed needs what we in the industry call promotion. and, quick, how do you promote something?

That's right, TV. Or youtube. or somewhere that guarantees you the audience you need to spread the word. fast.

the movie studios know this. every other youtube roadblock is bought by them. they have content/ideas they need to sell. and they know they can't rely on WOM.

because that would be crazy!

Alan Wolk said...

@Tom & TSR: Excellent points. Honeyshed got most of its coverage from the ad trades - hardly a way to build a mass audience.
A good TV campaign would have helped immensely.
It's what I was referring to the other day when I was talking about how many people- clients and agency side- had this odd notion that the internet was like TV - if you put it up there, people would somehow find it, as if they flipped through the internet or looked on the internet version of TV Guide or something.
"Viral" is like a cute puppy. The first one you ooh and ahh over, but by the tenth, you're kind of "oh, another cute puppy."
Someone will figure this out soon enough- funny though to think of how much money was spent during Web 1.0 on TV commercials promoting web sites.

@RavMoshe: I don't know if Krugman was talking about the upper middle class suddenly feeling poor though. The people in the 90th to 99.5th percentiles are really starting to feel the gap b/w themselves and the top 0.5%
Interesting that those three periods he mentioned were all one right after the other though.

Anonymous said...

Yes, those three eras do follow each other, but have the relief of the late 40s, the immediate postwar prosperity--or at least prosperity for those countries not devastated by the war.
Krugman, himself, distinguishes those eras. He rails at the 1920s (but I think more anecdotally), the 80s, the 90s, and today. Oddly to me he gives a pass to the 70s which was the worst decade of my life and I was born before Tomasso d'Aquino.
The difference in the three eras he likes apparently was the top tax rate. So he likes the 50s when 91% was the top rate. (Of course, it was not an effective rate because at that level, no one would do anything.)
I had the chance to meet Krugman and wanted to ask him what percentage he thought was the maximum rate both practically and morally it was for a givernment to take from someone. My other question would have been: doesn't high rates of income tax prevent new wealth, new money from forming?
I.e. removing one of the hallmarks of American society, mobility.