Long, long, ago in a galaxy far, far away
Why, even away from work or home, we could make a call from just about anywhere via Ma Bell’s national network of two million payphones. There were rumors that some newfangled mobile gizmo weighing in at around 4 pounds was in alpha testing – though that was probably just some science fiction thing, like Bigfoot.
Most Americans bought Detroit-brand cars and watched family-friendly television. Bad language and nudity were decades away from being de rigueur in the ratings race.
Not that we were limited for choice: there was always CBS and NBC. And in big cities, tweaking the antenna could bring in two, three or – weather permitting – even four local stations. Who could want more?
Of course, not every aspect of mid-1970s life was idyllic.
To keep us grounded, Cold War annihilation loomed, a mini-recession was underway and experts warned recent global cooling heralded another ice age.
For good measure, others said oil and other vital raw materials were about to run out, pretty much by the middle of next week. Oh, those experts, you gotta love ’em.
Then came Star Wars. Everything was disrupted, everything changed. Maybe it was a coincidence, but never underestimate the power of The Force.
Seven Boomer life changers since Star Wars: A New Hope
Optimism, adaptability and confidence in the future were baked into Boomers long before Star Wars burst on the scene. However, its incredible special effects – and their revolutionary tech backstory – intensified our already high expectations for the future.
With all this going for it, the movie was a huge success: adjusted for inflation, it is still the third highest grossing film in world-wide box office history (Wikipedia.)
It’s no surprise that Boomer imaginations went into hyperdrive building the foundations of 21st century life.
Here are seven life-changing breakthroughs Boomers pioneered and popularized in the years after Star Wars: A New Hope.
Personal computers took off in the early 1980s and were exponentially enhanced by the Internet a decade later. Productivity soared at work and at home, new media rocketed out of cyberspace and we gained access to a vast free online library.
Mobile phones transformed business and personal communication by the mid-1990s. Faster than you can say clamshell, they evolved into smartphones – our alter egos, portals to the universe and Hogwarts wands for the Internet of Things.
Import car brands became totally cool; so much so that in 2016 they won 55% of the U.S. new light duty vehicle market. Back in 1977 the figure was just 19%. Naturally, it was smart, independent Boomers who popularized them in the 1970s and ’80s.
Post Cold War globalization … until the old Soviet Union bloc crumbled, the threat of nuclear war was constant. But within a year of its collapse, McDonald’s opened in Russia and China. Savvy Boomer marketers embraced globalism; American brands expanded around the world and imported goods of all types boomed here at home.
Green America … when President Nixon created the EPA (1970), curbing pollution already had vocal Boomer support. Our young voices helped launch Friends of The Earth (1969), Earth Day (1970), Greenpeace (1971) and many, many more environmental organizations – currently, over 250 operate in the U.S. (Wikipedia).
Eating habits were revolutionized. At one end of the range, natural and organic blossomed, at the other, fast food outlets zoomed from 30,000 in 1970 to 140,000 in 1980 (USDA). And we discovered ethnic foods, big time; Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Latin American and Indian cuisine all thrive nationwide today.
Television viewing is light years beyond where it was in 1977. After HBO, Turner, CNN and MTV arrived, cable and satellite service exploded: modern TVs access hundreds of channels – and millions of viewers are streaming.
No wonder we Boomer still see ourselves as trailblazing Han Solos, Princess Leias and Luke Skywalkers. Okay, we have some outliers from the Mos Eisely Cantina, but hey, live and let live.
Boomers? Advertisers don’t serve their kind here …
Although Boomers shaped the modern world, when it comes to targeting Americans over 50, Madison Avenue’s reaction is “Hey, we don’t serve their kind here!”
Dark Side dogma has convinced them that consumers stop adapting at age fifty and can no longer be turned to new paths.
However, savvy adland Millennials are starting to realize this is just an old Jedi mind trick. The truth is that mainstream brands have forgotten how to listen to us and, just as important, how to speak to us.
Disruptives are also discovering it’s not just about Boomers. Since 2015 over 12 million Gen Xers born 1965-67 have blasted out of the 18-49 orbit to join the Rebel Alliance, aka the Boomer-Plus Generation™.
Bound together by unbreakable generational DNA, these 99 million American consumers represent the third largest economy on the planet – richer and more populous than any EU nation or Canada and Australia combined.
So we invite daring brands to harness the power of The Force – make the jump to hyperspace while the laggards linger on primitive planets.