Can I give this ditty a second title for heck of it? Bad News, Good News. It's A Big Wide World!
Crap news is absolutely everywhere. It is merely unavoidable. The economy is in shambles, 50 million Americans are without health insurance, unemployment is on the rise in numbers that scare even the rich, and 43 out of 50 states are now operating on a budget deficit. Meanwhile, some enterprising projects have figured out how to keep their heads above water and even prosper in some cases despite experiencing the bleakest of times by making our (now official) Recession seem almost cool.
A great example of the general mopiness of society today is found on television. Maury Povich, the veteran host whose syndicated "talk" show is only slightly less cartoonish than Jerry Springer, has made a living for 10 (!) seasons telling people bad news and reveling in it. People parade onto his stage to be told after a DNA test that they "are not the father" or be made aware after a lie detector test that their partner has "cheated with more than 3 women." (For a fabulous -- and farcical -- version of this concept, set your DVR to catch the haughty and hilarious The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle with Jennifer Saunders on The Sundance Channel!)
Anyway, entering its 11th season, Maury is holding steady to decent ratings, even outpacing Martha-lite Rachael in some markets. People are apparently looking for anything showing that someone else is even worse off than they.
Product marketers are also getting into the act. SC Johnson, A (Really-Large) Family Company, is playing up the economic crisis by advertising its inexpensive line of scented oil candles, Glade, as a fantastic alternative to paying more money for the same great-smelling (?) effect. In an ad now playing everywhere, each time a woman lights an expensive candle, it makes a cash register-like KA-CHING noise. The implication is "Hey! You've got no money. Why are you spending 25 cents every time you light that candle, when you could buy a Glade (or "Glaw-Day" as they lampoon themselves as fancy and French in the ad) for a mere penny?"
Glade is still kind of a crummy product -- there is a reason why it is so inexpensive -- but $3 and a trip to Target sure beats paying Yankee Candle $25 for the freaking privilege of having my kitchen smell like fresh baked cookies. (Who doesn't love the fresh!)
Even in what was once recession-proof New York, the local restaurants and businesses are pushing Recession Specials -- as if we need a reminder. A popular sandwich shop in Park Slope had a grilled cheese and a cup of soup for four bucks this weekend (it was yummy!). Four bucks is larceny in the trendiest and yuppiest part of Brooklyn! On the last visit, Cookie couldn't fry the gruyere on organic brioche fast enough.
Want to generate some good news? Jump on the bad news wagon cause it certainly won't be going away anytime soon, despite the overwhelming election of the anti-Bush.
So, be you baker, bank, or candle maker, you make people feel like they are saving some dough via your service or product and you're the best thing since bread or bucks or beeswax, baby.
.....I'm Richard Laermer, as you may know. I have written the McGraw-Hill book about the near fabulous future. 2011: Trendspotting for the next decade.