Their Bulletproof Vests

You grow accustomed to the heavy NYC Police and US Army presence in Penn Station. The stun guns and M16s amidst rush hour crowds don’t bother me.

What bothers me are the bulletproof vests.

Targets wear bulletproof vests, not guardians of the peace. And if these heavily armed, trained gunmen see themselves as targets, what do they see me as, and whom are they really there to protect?

Trend Spotting: Single Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is not a Hallmark Holiday. It’s celebrated throughout the globe in different ways and at different times of the year.

In the US, Mother’s Day remains a perennial institution that goes back over a century even as our concept of family, femininity, and motherhood has evolved over time.

There is a growing cohort of single mothers by choice (by definition, mothers without a cohabiting partner).

These mothers tend to be over 30, are well-educated, and have the financial means to live a comfortable life as a single-parent family. This makes them an ideal cohort from the marketing point of view, particularly given their unique (unmet) needs.

Given the fact that this is a growing trend, this is a cohort marketers cannot ignore.

Beautiful Cars & Fast Women!

<doh> Strike that headline and reverse it!

In our world of politically correct, culturally relevant, meticulously targeted branded content, how much breakthrough potential the anachronistic fast car + beautiful women tactic have?

It’s sexist, hedonistic and materialistic. It glorifies the spoils of greed and excess, sends the message that young, thin, light-skinned women are trophies for rich men and that that should be the aspiration of all women. It diminishes the self-worth of men, most of us who will never be able to afford an exotic car, and taints our perception of our own partners who may not match this female stereotype.

From the perspective of social responsibility and the power of advertising, nothing can be more socially irresponsible.

But – revisiting my original question – in this day and age will this breakthrough?

I write extensively on culture, identity, advertising and the social responsibility of the advertising industry. Let’s revisit this in a week’s time and compare click-through rates.

(Irrespective of how many or few people have clicked through to this page, the Geneva Motor Show will always be the pinnacle of auto shows. I can’t wait to get there myself! And as exotic cars go, the Alpha Romeo here is among the most attainable in the category.)

The Paradox that is America

A close friend of mine for whom I have a great deal of respect astutely questioned my premise of a divided nation citing several relevant historical data points. (“Are labor protections worse today than in 1890? … As a nation, we’re certainly less divided than in 1862.”) Nothing is more divisive to a nation than a civil war; certainly we are less divided than in 1862. But can social progress coexist with social division?

Civil wars are a ludicrously absurd method for resolving ideological disputes: ideas are judged not on merit but rather on might ending with the suppression of ideas rather than resolution. I do not find it surprising that based on the 48 values questions Pew has been using for the past 25 years, the partisan gap has doubled. Nor do I find it surprising that a growing number of voters do not identify with either party, and support LGBTQ civil rights.

That said, perhaps we can agree that America is a country of paradoxes; a nation both politically divided, and capable of social evolution; a nation with a legal system that can both clear Officer Darion Wilson of any wrongdoing whatsoever in the killing of Michael Brown, and find “widespread civil rights abuses by the Ferguson Police Department.