Mr. Spock’s Vulcan Mind Meld links the generations
Since Leonard Nimoy passed away on February 27, 2015, millions of fans, from President Obama to everyday folk around the world, have paid tribute. It’s quite an achievement for an entertainment icon to connect with people of all generations, across so many cultures for so many years.
Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers encountered Planet Earth’s favorite Vulcan differently, but Nimoy’s alter ego, Mr. Spock, lives on for each of us. It’s as if he had performed a Vulcan Mind Meld to link America’s generations – no mean feat when, supposedly, we all dwell in our separate star systems.
Most Boomers met him in black and white – only 10% of U.S. homes had a color television set when the original Star Trek series debuted in 1966. Over the years, we caught up with color in TV reruns and saw the cast evolve and age through six hit movies. We watched Spock, Kirk, Uhura and the others become what we hoped for ourselves; older, wiser but still cool and capable.
In contrast, Gen Xers grew up watching the original Star Trek cast in syndication and at the movies. And they helped fuel the success of TV follow-ups The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. For Xers, Spock was the sensible uncle – smart, caring but lovably out of touch with the emotional hot buttons of the day.
In fact, they were so much a part of Millennial culture that a spoof episode of Futurama and guest appearances on The Simpsons required no explanation. Old school, but authentic and classic.
And although none of the original cast members were Boomers themselves, Mr. Spock came to personify the best of what that generation offers Millennials: mentorship, experience, rationality and stability.
In the end, Nimoy’s enduring appeal shows that older role models can resonate with younger audiences just as warmly as they do with their peers.
Advertisers can learn much from Spock
For years, ad agency researchers have dreamed of mastering Spock’s mind meld technique. Imagine the possibilities when a snarky focus group respondent disses the creative concepts – with the client looking on behind the two-way mirror. Hmm … Spock could set him straight in no time at all.
A more immediate application of unconventional Spock wisdom to Madison Avenue’s work is provided by Nimoy’s long career in television commercials.
Refuting the meme that 50 is the end of the line for targeting mainstream brand customers, he appeared in several campaigns well after his theoretical sell date. In its own tribute to Mr. Nimoy’s long career, Advertising Age linked to memorable commercials from 1985 through 2014, when he was age 83.
Browsing the work is a lesson that creative thinking is all it takes to shove aside old limitations.
Live long and prosper with Boomer spending power
Disruptive adland Millennials are beginning to realize the importance of older Americans to the prosperity of everyday mainstream brands. Disregarding the dated dogma that consumers no longer adapt after age 50, they see opportunities while the competition is in deep space hibernation.
And these opportunities are enormous – even galactic – in scope.
The U.S. Boomer-Plus Generation™ (Baby Boomers + sisters and brothers born 1940-1945) numbers 93 million and owns over 70% of U.S. household net worth. A bigger, more affluent market than Japan or any EU nation it generates the 3rd biggest GDP on Earth.
Daring Millennials who value Spock-like mentoring to boldly where no brand has gone before should click to beam us up.