Back When We Killed for Tennis Shoes

MAY 14, 1990 – The cover of Sports Illustrated showed a pistol being shoved into the back of a high school kid. Those were the days when an alarming trend swept this land of purple mountains, majesties, above the fruited plains.

Kids were killing for tennis shoes. Remember?

JUNE, 2008 – Retail in America is changing.
We could blame it on the current recession, but the truth is much more interesting:

Today’s young adults (18-34) spent their childhoods marinating in hype. The noise of Vegematic commercials and limited-time offers for Ginsu knives were the soundtrack of their lives. Cable TV was a friendly babysitter, shouting, “BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!” Upward mobility was the dominant religion. Out-of-control commercialism was an ocean that threatened to suffocate their souls.

Britney Spears glittered when she walked.

My sons were 7 and 10 years old when that issue of Sports Illustrated hit the newstand. Today they’re like a lot of other young men and women who grew up during the days of conspicuous consumption. They’ve quietly decided that
cheap is the new chic.

Buying used clothing at a Goodwill thrift store is cool.
Underpowered cars are cool.
Craig’s List is cool.
IKEA is cool.

The new status…is not how much you spend, but how much you don’t.
– CBS Evening News

Can this new trend toward minimalism and the conservation of resources be harnessed to make you money? Of course it can.

But not in the way you think.

You’ll find the answers you need in Austin. (Attend classes at Wizard Academy or book a day of private consulting with the Wizards of Ads.) Come.

Was today’s message a thinly-disguised ad for America’s 21st Century Business School?

Yes, it was. But doesn’t the fact that I admit it make it a little easier to take?

(The perceptive reader will realize that last sentence was the whole point of today’s memo.)

Understated fashion and transparent language are on the rise.


Roy H. Williams

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