Today I’m going to talk about ten years that shaped the word. Ten years that gave us parachute pants and hair mousse, nu-wave music and Anthony Michael Hall. Yes, today we are going to take look at the decade that will not fucking die. The 1980s.
The 80s seem to be everywhere these days. JC Penny’s “tribute” to The Breakfast Club is just the latest in a series of marketing campaign that seem to require extensive knowledge of 80’s trivia.
Now before I go any further, I would like to point out that I was alive during the 80s. I lusted after Molly Ringwald. I Wang Chunged. But I have let go. The past is the past, and I am comfortable with the fact that the 80s are over. But I am clearly in the minority. Every day I see 1980’s fashion, music, trends, style, fonts, movies, celebrities and TV shows used as shortcut to cool.
But cool to who?
The Penny’s spot is targeted to teenagers. So why would you reference a movie that came out 23 YEARS AGO! No one in your target demo was even ALIVE back then! (Here’s a little test marketing. Go up to a teenager and say, “Booga, booga, booga, oo, ha, ha, ha!” I’ll bet that close to 99% will not get the reference and will quickly run away.)
There is an answer to why this decade is still us, and you’ll probably find it right down the hall. Take a good look at your creative director. How old is s/he? Mid-forties? Fifty? So back in the era of acid wash, your CD was at the peak of their creativity. They were plugged-in to pop culture. They were experimenting with new ideas and new design.
Then it all came crashing down. They got older and richer, and suddenly, they didn’t want to play anymore. The new trends looked scary and confusing. And so they locked down. Collectively, they decided that culture had peaked in the 80s. Music would never sound so cool. Clothes would never look so hot. Movies would never be so…radical.
And so today, when a CD is asked to come up with an idea, frequently it will have some connection to the 80s. “You know what’s hot? Leg warmers!” “Make it look like that scene in Ferris Bueller.” “Is Boy George still alive?” And the headline will say, ’Read My Lips. All New Faxes!’”
Bogus. Totally bogus.