The quest for ‘our quality world’

Every year strategy checks in with youth marketing experts to see which brand hijinks have impressed the kids recently. This time around, the thing that stood out for our panel was how much the line between youth and adult advertising has blurred. It seems most brands want a youthful glow, and consequently, a lot are not acting their age. Which reflects the general fascination with youth culture, as evidenced by the 'wrinkled Facebook' phenomenon.

Every year strategy checks in with youth marketing experts to see which brand hijinks have impressed the kids recently. This time around, the thing that stood out for our panel was how much the line between youth and adult advertising has blurred. It seems most brands want a youthful glow, and consequently, a lot are not acting their age. Which reflects the general fascination with youth culture, as evidenced by the ‘wrinkled Facebook’ phenomenon.

This issue we explore why everyone wants to be like Diet Pepsi – forever young – and how that’s influencing serious categories, from big financial players unspooling YouTube spoofs to P&G paying homage to Subservient Chicken. We also check in with youth influencer brands MTV and Vice to see where they’re headed. Check it out, starting on page 45.

While Vice is a great example of a Made in Canada brand that’s achieved success abroad, we also look at a global brand tapping thought leadership out of Canada. Our cover story chronicles the rapid turnaround of LG Canada under president William Cho and marketing VP Andrew Barrett. This brand went from under the radar to ubiquity in short order, and this month’s Word from the Corner Office (starting on page 15) explains how.

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We also pay tribute to another source of great Canadian ad leadership and inspiration: Barry Base, who recently passed away. For over a decade Barry wrote a column in strategy, alongside fellow ad icon John Burghardt. The columns were brilliant. John told us what folks were doing right, and Barry schooled the ones that hadn’t quite got there. USUALLY in emphatic type styles, with Random Caps and exclamatory passion!

Barry’s columns always made me laugh out loud, often followed by an ‘oh my’ as I wondered which bits might trigger phone calls. They were one of a kind. As was Barry. Starting on page 64, his former colleagues, editors and Forum mate share their memories.

Barry seemed to have a single lens through which all his experiences – from sojourns in Paris to hosting the summer ‘Gravenhurst dorm’ for his son Christian’s college pals – were viewed, and it was advertising. While he tended to point out the ridiculous, it was as a way to get readers’ attention long enough to teach them something. I’ll leave you with some vintage Barry, from his November 2004 column about Sleeman enjoining us to ‘Live Premium’:

‘The Very Interesting California psychiatrist William Glasser maintains there is a place in our minds that we go to, from infancy onward, called our quality world. We did not say this is a real world, mind you. But it’s very real to us. It is the place we go in our minds to feel better about ourselves.

It is that beautiful house you are going to build for yourself one day, the perfect holiday memories you summon up on a dark winter evening. The friends you’ve had since you were a kid, who know and love you so well. The smell of leather that wafts from the air-conditioned interior of that Jag or Mercedes or BMW you drive. Or will someday.

And of course, your quality world occasionally contains the brands you find oddly, dare we say irrationally, gratifying to use. I think my anglophile Mom used HP Sauce on bacon because the Houses of Parliament were on the label. And of course, King George liked it too…

Dr. Glasser helped me define that place I have knocked myself out to take my client’s products and services all my career: Into Your Quality World. But it is the storyteller’s task to craft the means by which they gain access. Conjure up a King or two. But don’t tell me to live premium. That’s a decision I alone will take or not, based on what you tell me.

As the man said, advertising is not about your aspirations.’

Barry, we’ll miss you taking us there. mm

Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy and Media in Canada