By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
X's and Big O's
With a nod to Spy, Buzz offers the world's first separated at birth advertisement. On the left, an ad from Texas Monthly for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Grapefest, a wine festival so overwhelmingly wholesome it includes "activities for the whole family."
On the right, we have an ad from the New Yorker for the Xandria Collection of sex toys, which come with a three-way warranty, including: "We guarantee that the product you choose will keep giving you pleasure. Should it malfunction, just return it to us for a replacement."
We wonder if the S-T has considered the potential synergy of a joint festival with Xandria? "Ma'am, would you like some extra double-A batteries with your chardonnay?"
Dazed and abused
Is the X Generation mentally deficient or what? At first, Buzz thought the twentysomethings' bell-shaped curve tracked pretty much like every other generation's. After all, it has produced some exceptional individuals--Keanu Reeves, for instance--who can hold their own with credit-to-their-generation dynamos like Bob Dole.
But some local marketing pitches being made to this lucrative demographic segment are beginning to make us wonder. And, as anyone who has seen a "Joe Greed" Ford ad knows, a lot of careful sociological research goes into advertising and promotion.
One of the first troubling signs came in a statement from the leadership of The Dallas Morning News' puppet weekly, The Met. In a recent article in Adweek, Met publisher Randy Stagen laid out succinctly what Xers really care about: booze and solar radiation.
"Most people my age don't care about who's stealing what at City Hall. So we're out there covering where to get a great drink in the sun, and they [the Dallas Observer] are covering the Black Panthers."
The Observer, of course, targets the same age group, but--as Stagen so painfully points out--has been laboring under the misimpression that young readers care about corruption, injustice, race, religion, politics, in addition to a great drink in the sun.
Another recent warning sign of sliding slacker intellectual sophistication came from KXAS-TV Channel 5's new billboard promotion. One color-splashed billboard shows a guy catching a television (or perhaps he's throwing it away?) with the words: "whatever it takes." A second depicts a man and a woman carrying a huge, out-of-scale television minicam on their shoulders, safari style. Above, it reads: "We'll get you there."
We had no idea what these bizarre images were suppose to mean, and assumed we were dense. Until the folks behind the Channel 5 ads explained that they're meant to attract the attention of that special generation.
"The concept is to reflect our young and hip viewers that we have," says Kaylynn Dougall, director of marketing and production for the station. "I think they're real eye-catching."
And, on closer inspection, we saw that the people on the billboards are young. Get it, now?
Dougall explained that the billboards were "nontraditional" (which we could only take to mean "incomprehensible") and designed to be very--to repeat--"eye-catching." Apparently, like other primitive tribes, slackers are attracted to bright colors. Perhaps, we marveled, the billboards depict what the world looks like when you've had too much great drinks and sun.
We will give Channel 5 credit for one thing: At least they think Gen X cares about news.
The outdoor production of A Midsummer Night's Dream appeared to be set in Romantic Fashion Retroland. There were men in 1930s military garb, complete with green jodhpurs. The confused love interests, Hermia and Helena, wore white gloves, high heels, and huge-brimmed, Diana-at-Ascot hats. One later switched to a blouse out of a Mondrian painting and a Jackie O. pillbox hat.
Said one loutish devotee of the Bard, "Looks like a midsummer's sale at Neiman Marcus."