I’ll admit that this doesn’t have anything to do with Recruiting. However, it has everything to do with marketing and knowing your audience, so I’m going to post it. It’s all about the Care Bears.
In 1985, my beloved Cheer Bear looked like this:
Cheer Bear 1985 was a cuddly, happy, fat (all the Care Bears were fat), snuggly friend. She was aimed squarely at the junk-food-eating, tv-watching slugs that me and my Generation X buddies were. AND WE LIKED IT! She made us happy. So what if she was a little overweight? She was Rubenesque!
Last weekend, I happened to turn on the television, and I saw some cartoon characters that looked vaguely familiar. They were pastel-colored, and they had little symbols on their tummies… Could it be? Yes! Yes, it was! It was the Care Bears. But something was very, very wrong. My Cheer Bear, my dear friend, my confidante! She was… CHANGED!
I guess American Greetings, the company that owns the Care Bears brand, did some customer research, and decided that today’s kids were tired of the stereotypes. They wanted their Care Bears thin! They wanted them active!
Well, actually, a little bit of research uncovered a NY Times article from last month detailing the “21st Century Facelift” that the Care Bears, along with Strawberry Shortcake, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and many other characters are undergoing. The characters of my youth are going under the animator’s knife to come out looking more youthful profitable. The Times article makes it pretty clear:
If the classic characters look less stodgy, the companies hope, they will appeal not only to parents who remember them fondly, but also to children who might automatically be suspicious of toys their parents played with. For parents, nostalgia is considered a bigger sales hook than ever because of the increasingly violent and hyper-sexualized media landscape.
So, American Greetings DID do their research, but they didn’t decide to make the Care Bears skinny just because skinny is the new black, but because they wanted me to want to buy them for my kids (heritage) and they want my kids to want me to buy them for them (innovation).
Probably my favorite quote from the Times article is this:
Licensing experts say they perceive a subtle psychological game at play, an attempt to hit the nostalgia button on a generation of young parents just as they start to feel their first twinges of middle age.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a new Corvette to buy, and I need to find myself a trophy husband. I feel a crisis coming on.