Happy Year of the Ox!
Today marks the beginning of Chinese New Year. As the Asia Times points out, "The Year of the Rat has ended in a global economic meltdown and a crisis of confidence unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Can the ox - the strong, hard-working symbol for next year, which begins on January 26 on the Chinese lunar calendar - carry us forward to better times"
I'm no fortune cookie -- but two recent posts on this blog, and the attention the topic of those posts is getting in the mainstream media today -- are indicative of where the Ox is heading.
The first was way back on January 6th (still the Bush Administration), when I wrote that "acccording to Box Office Mojo's yearly box office results, all of 2008's top grossing movies were rated PG-13 or under," proof that Hollywood has discovered family values and is finally valuing families.
Apparently, the proof is in the pudding eaten by rotound movie sensation Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which for a second weekend in a row, ruled the box office with $21 million in ticket sales. In today's Media Equation column in the NYTimes, David Carr writes that "according to Box Office Guru, theater revenues are up 9 percent so far this year and the recent Martin Luther King's Birthday weekend was the biggest in history, surpassing Memorial Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend." Driving that record breaking long weekend, in a segway no less, was Paul Blart.
I've seen Paul Blart. It's no Finding Nemo, but my kids loved it. We paid matinee prices, took our own snacks, laughed at the silliness of it all, and felt good leaving the theater having gotten out of the house and enjoyed a family experience for under $40. And in these times, that's what its all about.
My second fortune cookie post was titled "Recession Buster: As Seen On TV!" I wrote that increasing anecdotal evidence showed that the infomercial industry is a huge beneficiary of the recession. Because of low TV ad rates and high anxiety among shoppers, "it seems millions of us have taken up offers AS SEEN ON TV (a phrase that must always be shouted) and bought ourselves a Snuggie (The Blanket With Sleeves!), a Buxton Over-the-Shoulder Orangizer bag, the Craft Lite Cutter, and a lifetime supply of Debbie Meyer Green Bags."
In a much longer, more journalistic explaination of this "theory," the The NYTimes today talks to all the network ad people and several direct marketers, who say it's gotten so bad/good -- that now the infomercial companies are fighting for prime time ad time. But even more indicative is an article in today's AdAge, which announces that "Marketing's New Red-Hot Seller" is the "Humble Snuggie." (The Blanket with Sleeves!).
"The quirky little blanket with sleeves has become the raiment of the zeitgeist, with more than 4 million units sold in just over three months and more than 200 parody videos on YouTube," writes AdAge. However, the article quotes a Portland, OR marketing guy by the name of Doug Garnett as saying that "it was the quirky problem-solution DRTV ad that made the difference, not the design," for the Snuggie.
Not quite true. It's the recession, the anxiety and the feeling of safety and cocooning that is making the Snuggie ---- not just the ad. Just as it's the feeling of a happy ending for an overweight every-man that's making Paul Blart a hit.
At least, that's what my fortune cookie is telling me on this Chinese New Year Day. Happy Year of the Ox.