Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Three Generations of Fans

I'm a single father of three kids - an 8th grader, a high school sophomore and a high school junior.  I had them this past weekend and learned just how differently they view "celebrity."  I think of myself as a really cool, young-at-heart dad.  I watch Family Guy, listen to Kid Cudi, play sports, etc. - I even took my oldest daughter to Coachella.  My kids keep me young and my brain thirsts for new information to process.  It's also hugely beneficial to have teenagers as a means of gauging where consumer trends are headed.  My kids have no problem telling me that something is "really lame" and a "fail."  A few weeks ago, my two girls let me know that they are going to VidCon in Anaheim and ask if they can have some friends spend the night.  It turns out it was 4 nights and I had to cook, clean, feed and shuttle back and forth from my home in Fullerton. 

For those of you who don't know, VidCon is a convention for a legion of YouTube fans who follow internet stars, called "YouTubers."  While the event has some stage performances and product demonstrations, the user experience revolves around standing in long lines to take pictures with some of your favorite YouTubers.  How long?  How about 4.5 hours to enjoy a 15-second meet and greet with Jenna Marbles. Who?  Yeah, exactly.  This screaming troop of girls I chauffeured to and from the event daily went on and on about who they met and how much they bonded with their fellow "fan girls."  Huh?  It was eye-opening for sure.  I had my daughter read off from a list of 50 YouTubers who she had met.  I recognized two of the names - Rebecca Black (from "Friday" song fame) and Howie Mandel (doesn't qualify as a YouTuber, but she did meet him).  I pondered how out of touch I was.  Certainly, someone who went to Coachella can't be that far off center, right?  I don't know if this is a sign of what is to come, but I realize that kids don't really connect to traditional entertainment like my generation did.  They certainly don't connect like my parents did - Walter Cronkite was a God in my house growing up.  Yes, something is happening here.

My kids are not a reflection of all kids, but I do see most kids taking on similar traits - gaming, mobile, social networks and bit-sized media on demand.  I can't help but to think that the television and movie industries are trying to figure out how to address this consumer trend.  As a marketer, I'm watching and recognizing that stardom is but a cam away.