How a simple song has the power to get California to Talk. Read. Sing.

Remember jingles? Those hard-to-forget musical ditties that extolled the virtues of almost every product and service advertised in the 20th century? Remember “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”? “You deserve a break today”? And that classic, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” revisited in the Mad Men finale and attributed to Don Draper’s EUREKA moment?

The American jingle was the most valuable concept in the communications toolbox for over 100 years. It was a simply brilliant way to cut through the clutter and brand a product or service. But with the advent of MTV, and the desire of recording artists to cash in on their extensive songbooks, jingles fell out of favor in the late 80’s. My generation of Mad Men and Women scorned them. “If you don’t have something to say, sing it” was the knock.

Today, Fraser Communications’ efforts with First 5 California to get parents to talk, read and sing to their children ages 0 to 5 has had us immersed in recent brain research. We discovered that, lo and behold, those ancient jingle writers were onto something: Human beings remember words better when they rhyme. And they REALLY remember them when those rhymes are set to music.

And so, we went back to the well, and wrote a jingle. Then because “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” was made even more memorable by Speedy Alka Seltzer, we created three enthusiastic animated mascots to sing our song: The Smarter Birds – Parrot, Owl and Songbird.

Great music is hard to create. Great jingles even harder as there is less time to arrive at a melody and there are specific things you need to communicate. With Anthony Marinelli of Music Forever, we were able to access the most talented songwriters in Los Angeles, and compose a winning toe-tapping tune. Then, for our characters, we partnered with the inspired and skilled animators at The Mill.

We spent five months developing our Smarter Birds, writing their backstories, rewriting lyrics, listening to the melodies that could bring those lyrics to life, shooting, editing, and getting energized daily by our wonderful First 5 California partners, who were hugely supportive during this delightful journey.

There was a single focus to these efforts: We wanted the first-time exposure of the jingle to “stick” in the mind, and be hummable all day long.  And we succeeded, if the videos of children hearing it for the first time are any indication. Now, we’re taking our Smarter Birds on the digital and social media road. Our fingers are crossed and our toes are tapping that another generation of California parents will talk, read and sing (with our song in their repertoire!) to their children every day, exercising their brains, and helping them succeed in school. Did I tell you we’re also making Smarter Bird puppets? And writing a Smarter Birds activity book?

All these efforts fell into place beautifully, proving that even though a jingle is a simple thing, its power is enormous. Let the Smarter Birds fly.

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How First 5 California and Fraser Communications are closing the learning gap and making the world a better place.

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally closing the gap in educational inequality.  Recent articles in both the NYTIMES and the LATIMES announced that the data is very encouraging: “Children entering kindergarten today are more equally prepared than they were in the late 1990’s.”

The authors note that it’s not because the education level for high income families has fallen, but because a single idea has started to take hold: that the first years of a child’s life are vital in brain development.

Of course, you say?  Well, it hasn’t always been this way.

Less than a century ago, it was considered that intellectual stimulation of babies was harmful, and ideas, once planted, are hard to uproot. First 5 California and Fraser Communications have been at this uprooting for over eight years now, and our campaign- Talk. Read. Sing. It Changes Everything© is a pure expression of this effort.

Fraser has conducted over fifty focus groups on this subject with low income Hispanic and African American families.  Findings reveal just how difficult it was for these families and single parents to devote the time necessary to engage their children in the critical activities that would lead to strengthening their children’s brains, prepare them to enter pre-school, and prevent them from falling behind by the third grade. In realizing these difficulties, we knew we had to make the effort sound simple, and so we reduced it to the three pillars of parental activity: Talking with your child, reading with your child, and singing with your child. These activities are powerful in helping to increase vocabularies and just as importantly, self-confidence.

And it’s working.

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As the LATIMES article notes, “…skills that kids have when they enter kindergarten can be very predictive of how they’ll progress through school.” We knew that if these kids aren’t prepared, kindergarten could not reverse what wasn’t done with these children in their first 3 years of life.

The stakes are huge. Kids who fall behind in school increase their chances of dropping out. They wind up getting into trouble, filling our jails and mean streets and costing society billions. Business leaders worry that an educated workforce will not be available to meet their future needs. The income gap will increase more than it already has. This is the result of neglect and antiquated ideas. The new and ongoing early brain research and the subsequent awareness of this learning is helping reverse the trend.

These are deep societal risks, dangerous ones, and the campaign and outreach First 5 California and Fraser Communications continues to do is chipping away at these risks and closing the educational gap between rich and poor. Our Talk. Read. Sing. © effort has lead to, “The pattern of parents increasing their support for learning…”

And now the work begins again.

Implementing new tools and tips, organizing community activities and outreach programs, creating uplifting and empowering communications, creating a movement, a mantra, changing behaviors, empowering parents, enriching our kids, and yes, making the world a better place.

Rarely do you have a chance to make a big, meaningful and timely societal impact in the “advertising” business. But with First 5 California, Fraser Communications is doing just that, and the feeling is wonderful.

Click on some of the commercials we’ve done for the effort below.

First 5 If We Don’t
From the Moment They’re Born

How working with women taught me what works

wonder-woman-1016324_960_720 A recent NY Times op-ed called Sisterhood is Not Enough,” sheds light on the reality that though many women have cracked the glass ceiling, it gets patched up pretty quickly.  A plethora of women’s groups proliferate to create a sisterhood of strength and support to deal with the possibility that on top of that glass ceiling, there might be yet another one, even thicker, reducing opportunities and pay equality in upper management roles. But many of these like-minded women’s groups might be falling short in creating true opportunity and income equality. Why? Because men aren’t in them, and it’s men that need the enlightenment.

As a guy, I can say this: Men are dogs, jerks, sissies, hormonally challenged, oh, what’s the right word for my wayward brothers? The fact is that men just don’t want to accept that women can do things in the business world better than they can.  In the investment world, they are both wiser and more patient, and often outperform men. Yet, they make up only 12.4 percent of executive officers. Wouldn’t their wiser, less testosterone driven approach to money be welcomed? After all, I’m pretty sure derivatives cobbled together from subprime loans and sold into retirement funds was not a woman’s idea. And don’t get me started on startups, where they hold only 9 percent of management positions and the Venture Capital Boys don’t venture out of the testosterone waters much.

women-investing-780x439The reality is that women might be the most qualified for top management roles due to their having dealt with men personally and professionally. They’re superb at risk assessment. They’ve had years handling angry, volatile, insulting, leering men who say sexist, misogynist, and job threatening things every week. These are some pretty desirable business skills.

As a guy who works in a senior position for a woman owned agency (Renee Fraser/Fraser Communications) and who is primarily surrounded by women co-workers, here’s what I’ve come to know: They made me better at my job (I hope they agree, and this isn’t the testosterone talking). Previously, at my other management jobs in male dominated agencies, I was a stroppy mutt, thinking it was my way or the highway, and that intimidation was the sincerest form of flattery. When surrounded by women co-workers, I had to change that monkey-knuckled approach or suffer castration by a thousand glares.  But it wasn’t easy. Essentially, guys can be the proverbial bull in the China shop when it comes to working with women.

Here’s what I know as a man, from studies, articles, anecdotes, and in focus grouping some of the women I work with:

  • Men are linear thinkers. Generally, they move in a straight line from point A to point B, with a “Let’s get it done now,” aggressiveness, regardless of consequences.
  • The women I interviewed said you always know where you stand with a man. I have to say they might have encountered Enlightened Men, as I have suffered being unexpectedly upended by my share of male sociopaths.
  • Women care about inclusion and collaboration.
  • Women care more about feelings.
  • Women evidence more empathy but are also more guarded.
  • Men compete in an obvious fashion, and usually do a dance in the end zone when they win.
  • Women care more about the ‘good of the group’
  • Women may be more passive aggressive, and expert in subtle manipulations. (“Game of Thrones” definitely gets this)
  • Women connect on a deeper level than men do.
  • Men like to take the credit for everything. (“Game of Thrones” gets this too)
  • Men, with all they have, all they hoard for themselves, are hilariously insecure. (Woody Allen gets this)
  • Male execs with daughters are better execs. And males.

Working for and with women has made me a much better manager. More inclusive. More encouraging. More nurturing. More collaborative.  I haven’t yelled at anybody at work in over 4 years.  But if the situation is going to change, women are going to have to enlighten men, and bring them into their club. Demanding inclusiveness to The Men’s Club is not enough. That Club has to be shut down. And it’s the men who have to grow a pair, shut it down themselves and say goodbye to their boyhood ways.  Women will love them for it. And businesses will be better run, more fairly managed, more socially responsible, and the economy wouldn’t periodically gag on male greed.  And maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t rush off to so many damned wars.

With more women at the helm, we all might become better managers of the planet and our lives.

How you can make your baby’s brain the most powerful computer in the world.

How powerful is a baby’s brain? What goes on in their little heads? Recently, there’s been an explosion of data telling us one thing: Babies brains are more capable than we previously thought. They’re elastic and demand to be stretched. Babies know more and can know more than we ever gave them credit for.

More than eighty percent of brain development happens in the first one thousand days of a child’s life.

From the moment they emerge into the world, billions of connections are being made inside a child’s brain, helping them understand the sounds, smells, touch, words and sights of the new world around them. Neurons send info to the brain at 150 miles per hour, no stop signs or speed bumps,  and every time a baby learns, the structure of their brain changes again. Every time.

But adult minds have a hard time understanding the complexities of the child’s brain. The activities of neurons, synapses, olfactory tract, frontal pole, facial nerve and more is complicated stuff. At Fraser Communications, we seek ways to make it as simple as we can, so the information is memorable, repeatable, and we can get more parents doing the things they need to do – earlier – to enrich their child’s development.

A baby’s brain is just like a smartphone.

Ahh… Your brand spanking new smartphone. iPhone or Android. You lift the pristine, branded lid off the box to reveal your pride and joy nestled tightly and protectively in a cocoon of world-class package design. The machine is ready. Ready to light up, make a sound, and guide you through the initial set up. But, by itself – even though it looks great and is essentially powerful – it’s of very little value. It really doesn’t do anything yet. It needs software.

Software is what makes the machine useful, makes it wonderful, and makes it yours. Your fingerprint keeps it secure, your email accounts allow you to communicate, your provider gives you access to the internet and the ability to make phone calls and text.  Your camera allows you to take countless pictures of yourself or what you’re about to eat, and you download apps to make it most interesting and powerful  communications device we’ve ever known.

Sounds just like baby.

Your baby’s cuter – at least to you – and even more precious than that smartphone.  The machinery’s in place, in an incredibly powerful, adaptive, expansive package that’s spent over 200,000 years in design and engineering. But, needs software. Voices, words, song, touch, sights, sounds, smells, and play is the software for their brains.

Talking to a baby gives them self-confidence and an emotional connection to the first voices they hear: you, the parent or caregiver. Syllables, vowels and consonants careen around their brain, lighting up connections, filling the brain with knowledge, and the brain gets bigger.

Reading to a baby gives them vocabulary. Attaching words to pictures gives the words and pictures meaning. Now, a baby’s able to recognize objects, call them by name, and understand what they are when you talk about them.

Singing to a baby soothes them, allows them to learn more while the rhyme of many songs helps them remember ideas and words.

The apps of talk, read, and sing helps billions of neurons connect. They exercise the baby’s brain, and help baby make sense of the world. These essential apps expand the brain, and make it stronger. The brain thirsts for this strength. It seeks stimulation. Rapidly, it becomes more powerful than any computer ever made.

The baby’s brain develops at such a dramatic speed that by the tender age of three, more than eighty percent of brain growth is completed. And sadly, unlike the phone, which stays intact in its box,  fully capable of doing what you want it to do when you want it to do it, your baby’s brain, devoid of the input, the software, weakens. According to research, it actually shrinks. That’s why it’s so important that parents talk, read and sing to them, from the moment they’re born. Truly, there’s not a moment to waste.

Put down the smartphone. Power up your baby’s brain.

You are the installers of the software – the talk, read, sing software that will determine whether baby will have a powerful brain, or one that won’t help them keep up with the world. The consequences of not installing the talk, read, sing apps are dire.

Americans spend five hours a day on their smartphones. They check social media seventeen times a day. We need to knock off at least one hour a day to empower the most important device in the world: A child’s brain between the ages of zero to three.

When we do that, your child has a better chance of keeping up, and excelling, in school and in life. They won’t get lost and give up by the third grade, get into drugs, become a teenage pregnancy statistic, or wind up on the wrong side of the law, and in jail. It’s that vital. Not just to you, your baby, but to society. So, put down the smart phone, and start uploading the software of talk, read, sing from the moment they’re born.

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http://www.thetechgets.com/2014/06/emoji-list-iphone-android-pictures.html

The 5 ways you can achieve profound happiness.

How can you improve your chances at being happy? What are the elements that make for a happier life, both personally and professionally? This is the issue studied by Martin Seligman, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in his books “Learned Optimism” and “Flourish”; studies motivated by his belief that pessimism is the greatest drag on improving the human condition.

PESSIMISTS VERSUS OPTIMISTS

Pessimists see the world as it is. Optimists see the world the way they want to see it. In a recent seminar on The Psychology of Storytelling by producer Lindsay Doran, she absorbed Seligman’s findings and translated them into what makes a story successful in movies.

According to Doran, pessimists are very accurate in how they recall events. If they go to dinner, they will more accurately tell you what the place looked like, how many people were there, and what they ate.  Optimists get the decor wrong, as it will be bigger, or more intimate, and they might even exaggerate the meal.

Optimists do not see the world clearly or accurately. And yet, in almost every aspect of life, optimists do better. This is given biological truth as optimists have better immune systems and live longer than pessimists.

Optimism is the muscle of resilience, and resilience is the most important life and business skill we can master.

“The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe events will last a long time, and are their own fault. Optimists think about their misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault.” – Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism

THE 5 ELEMENTS OF HAPPINESS

Seligman calls his approach “Well-Being.” As a marketer, I love calling it “Happyology.” His 5 Elements of Well-Being (Happyology) create the permanent building blocks for a life of fulfillment.

  1. POSITIVE EMOTIONS: What we feel, what pleasures us, creates rapture, ecstasy, warmth, or comfort… when we lead an entire life around this element, we call it the “pleasant” life. Doran’s interpretation was summed up as the courage to be “warm” when the world pushes you to be “cool.” This could be as simple as deciding to take the time to have an especially special lunch on any given day. And chewing slowly.
  1. ENGAGEMENT: This is the flow. This is being one with the music, writing, painting or doing a PowerPoint. You’re deep into it, time stops and suddenly, it’s 6pm and time to go home to experience the Positive Emotions. People, who love their jobs, or a project on the job, experience this. And if you ask people who are in the flow what they are thinking, they usually say, “Nothing.”
  1. MEANING: Positive Emotions and Engagement need meaning. We can get absorbed in an activity, but it might be a useless pursuit. How much time do we spend on Facebook or Instagram, watching cats or what people ate for lunch only to feel a little morose after three hours. At the end of the day, we’re engaged and feel empty as we just torched a chunk of time doing absolutely nothing of real meaning. Human beings want meaning and purpose in life.

“A meaningful life consists in belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self, and humanity creates all the positive institutions to allow this: religion, political party, being green, the Boy Scouts, or the family.”  – Martin Seligman, Flourish.

  1. POSITIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Doran had an interesting observation as regards Positive Accomplishment: It’s not about the thing accomplished; it’s about the result the accomplishment has on our relationships. In the movie “Rocky.” Rocky Balboa went the distance against a much better fighter and looked like road kill at the end. But, that wasn’t the reward.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_IV
    “Yo! Adrian! I did it!” – Rocky

    The reward was his relationship with Adrian; the respect from his trainer; and the love of Philadelphians, who, to this day, get married at the top of the 72 stone steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At work, it’s about how your co-workers regard you for a job well done. At home, it’s the love you get from preparing an incredible meal. For John D. Rockefeller or Bill Gates, it’s how society regards them when they give away the money they made from their accomplishments. On another level, it can shape communications by dictating that we should increase the intensity of customer relationships versus bragging intensely about what we’ve accomplished. So, it’s not that we’ve successfully improved the formulation of the soap, it’s that in doing so, we’ve made all our relationships much, much stronger.

  1. POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS: When you’re in a movie theater watching a comedy and the audience laughs large, chances are you will too. When you feel profound meaning, or pride of accomplishment, there is one constant: They will take place in a more rewarding fashion when you’re around other people. When a child is sad, most likely a “good” parent will cobble together a playgroup or take the child out where there are people. This is also why, when we do other people a good deed, be it helping somebody cross the street to buying someone a cup of coffee, we feel a momentary increase in well being, or happiness.

So, c’mon, let’s all get happy! Have a great lunch, get lost in a task, make sure the task gives you meaning, enjoy the glow from your accomplishments, and be around people as much as you can.

How did we get so fat?

Designed by Fraser Communications for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, October, 2015
Designed by Fraser Communications for the L.A. County Department of Public Health, October, 2015

The next time you go to the store, buy twelve one-pound bags of processed sugar, take them home to your family of four (or three one pound bags for yourself) and eat bowl after sugar filled bowl for seven days, until all twelve one-pound bags are gone. That’s the amount of sugar the average American family consumes in one week.

No wonder little five-year-old Johnny is obese and pre-diabetic. What happened?

THE SEEDS OF SODA ADDICTION WERE PLANTED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.

At the beginning of our involvement in World War II, Robert Woodruff, CEO of Coca Cola, issued a proclamation: “See that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca Cola for 5 cents wherever he is and whatever the cost to the company.” In support of this patriotic effort, Coke became the beverage of choice by President Dwight Eisenhower, and the official drink of White House banquets. Just as Big Tobacco made a push for a soldier’s lungs during World War I, Big Soda made a play for their taste buds in World War II.

President Dwight Eisenhower enjoying a Coca Cola.
President Dwight Eisenhower enjoying a Coca Cola.

WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE.

In 1955, Eisenhower had a heart attack. And, when a President goes down, there is no shortage of expert care and pundit opinion. The Yank medical community said it was fat that felled our fearless leader. The Brits said it was sugar. Over the next ten years, the arguments went back and forth, until, American exceptionalism won: Fat was the culprit. Sugar got a hall pass. And no one paid too much attention to the fact that Eisenhower loved his Coke, as much as he loved his cigarettes.

HOW FAT FREE MADE US ALL SUGAR HOSTAGES.  

Purging fat from foods was a splendid marketing opportunity. The increasingly sophisticated food industry could expand their product lines if they sang the heart-healthy praises of their new non-and-low-fat foods.

Cheese would bounce like cotton puffs. Cupcakes would dance. And food companies could command twice as much shelf space in the store and in your mind.

But foods without fat didn’t taste good, so the food scientists added more sugar. They had always played with sugar as a flavor enhancer, but the practice went up when the fat levels went down, and across a greater range of products.

“Achieving the bliss point” was all the rage in the food laboratories. The Bliss Point is the point where you can add sugar before you get a negative reaction.

80% OF THE FOODS WE EAT HAVE SOME DEGREE OF SUGAR IN THEM.

When you wash those foods down with a soda, you’re going for the trifecta of insulin resistance, and you could be on the path to type 2 diabetes. Take all the sugar laden products out of the supermarket, and the shelves in the middle of the store will be empty.

SODA IS LIQUID CANDY.

New Zealand-based photographer Henry Hargreaves shows what a coke lollipop looks like next to a regular-sized lollipop.
Photographer Henry Hargreaves shows what a coke lollipop looks like next to a regular-sized lollipop.

A 12 oz. serving of Coke has 39 grams of sugar. Pepsi? 40 grams. (No wonder it won those taste tests!) That’s 4 plus teaspoons of sugar in a single serving.

All those teaspoons of sugar are too icky sweet for more than a sip, so Big Soda adds citris and other additives to mask the sweetness. And you drink more. You keep mainlining fructose and glucose to the liver, bypassing ability of the metabolism to digest and “burn” those empty calories.

What happens to fructose in the liver is a veritable Eli Roth movie: Glucose gets whisked out to do the beneficial stuff while Fructose creates insulin resistance, plumps into fat particles, shoots out into the bloodstream, and sits either in your belly or near your heart. But, not before it kicks the crap out of your liver.

Suddenly, you’re hopelessly fat and restricted to a life in a wheelchair, shooting insulin every couple of hours. And all along, you thought you were doing yourself a favor by eating fat free cupcakes.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

The parade of deleterious effects soda has on your body in addition to obesity and type 2 diabetes include:

  • Asthma
  • Kidney issues
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reproductive issues
  • Tooth decay
  • Potentially Cancer and Alzheimer’s

Worst of all, the brain and body see soda the same way they see cocaine. In fact, lab rats prefer a hit of sugar to a hit of cocaine. I guess that’s what they meant by, “The pause that refreshes.”

WHO’S WORSE? BIG TOBACCO OR BIG SODA?

I’ve worked on Pepsi and Anti-Tobacco. I shot Michael J Fox guzzling an entire can of Pepsi in one commercial, and stuck a cigarette in a hole in a woman’s throat in another.

I relished demonizing the tobacco industry; gray skin, lying cusses that they are. They used to trot out doctors testifying that smoking was harmless, and they created research that denied cigarettes presence at the cancer crime scene. Sadly, it seems that the soda boys are doing the same thing.

“The word is out: drinking sugar in liquid form is not a good idea,” says Marion Nestle, author of Soda Politics. Taking on Big Soda. “The publicity given to Coca-Cola’s funding of researchers was a revelation to lots of people. They were shocked that a company as well known as Coca-Cola would do such a thing.”

I’D LIKE TO GIVE THE WORLD SOME TRUTH…

Big Soda, Big Beverage and Big Sugar have it all over Big Tobacco. Unlike cigarettes, you have to eat and drink. If a kid drinks one 12 oz. can of soda a day, it changes their taste expectations, and they won’t fancy anything that’s unsweetened.

Sugar is seductive. It’s a drug. It’s the tobacco of a new generation.

Big Soda has pulled the thick center from the Big Tobacco playbook. They promote themselves as “wellness companies,” pay researchers with high mortgages and bad haircuts to deny the link between obesity and consumption, and tell the world that reasonably consumed, these products do no harm.

Except that Big Soda can’t have you drinking just one 12 oz. bottle or can a day. They need you to drink at least three to satisfy shareholder value.

And so, Americans guzzle 60 gallons of soda a year, per person.

SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?

In an unsweetened nutshell:

  • Don’t drink soda
  • Don’t drink any 12 oz. drink with over 12 grams of sugar
  • Drink water instead
  • Consider juice as a way to flavor water
  • Watch the calories but really watch the grams of sugar

We can also educate and advocate. We went up against Big Tobacco and it worked. We can push back against Big Soda and Big Sugar and tell people what the alternatives are. We can educate parents to not let their babies grow up to be cola nuts. Soda and sugary drinks is a lousy antidote to temper tantrums.

That’s what we’re trying to do at Fraser Communications. Right now, we’re working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to warn parents and the public of the effects of soda, sports and juice drinks and how consuming them as children can lead to a lifetime of complications and pain.

We’ll get there, one sugary drink at a time.

Lastly, don’t believe bogus science and soda naysayers. Check out who funded the research. Follow the money. You’ll see. Soda is as bad for you as tobacco.

The most important thing you can do to reach millennials.

– Pogo by Walt Kelly

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US. This famous quote from Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic strip is a beauty for its timeless political irony. But for me, it also summarizes the plethora of blogs and articles the media continue to belch up to pin down those difficult to connect with and communicate to Millennials.

WE HAVE MET THE MILLENNIALS AND THEY ARE US. Maybe the problem with understanding the Millennial generation is with how the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations are interpreting who they are, what they want, and how to make them do what we want them to do. As a recent article in the Guardian points out, it’s become almost adversarial.

“I think the boundaries end up getting drawn to some extent by the media, and the extent to which people accept them or not varies by generation,” Tom DiPrete, sociology professor at Columbia University says. “I would be somewhat skeptical that they can be documented rigorously.”

Baby Boomers are tireless in trying to lump Millennials together in one big marketing matzo. According to the avalanche of commandments in the articles and posts that proliferate online, Millennials are:

  1. ENTITLED. We all had that bone when we were young. But maybe it’s also that every Apple store is manned by Millennials helping Baby Boomers turn their devices on. And for a generation that came of age during the calamity of 9/11, 14 years of war, a financial system that got gamed, high unemployment while being saddled with impossible debt and the Tea Party…maybe it’s not that they feel entitled. Maybe it’s that they see us as incompetent.
  2. LOUSY WRITERS. Sure there might be less knowledge of a “formal writing structure for business,” but since when was that great writing? And by the way, they have also added a bunch of cool new words to the dictionary.
  3. IMPATIENT. That’s what being young is about. But think how patient they are while helping a frantic Baby Boomer turn their devices on.
  4. NOT BIG AT NETWORKING. Isn’t that what Tinder and Grindr are for?
  5. NOT GIVING MONEY TO UNETHICAL CORPORATIONS. There will always be corporations with the consciousness of Ann Coulter. But voting with your cash is more effective than voting at the polling place. There’s no electoral college.
  6. NOT WANTING TO WORK IN JOBS THEY HATE. No one does. Even John Boehner had enough.
  7. CONCERNED ABOUT LIFE/WORK BALANCE. Except if they work at Amazon.
  8. KNOW-IT ALLS. Again, a symptom of youth. Baby Boomers had that in spades. And the next time I go into an Apple store to have one of my devices turned on, I want a know-it-all to do it.
  9. SKEPTICAL OF ADVERTISING. Admitting to trusting advertising is like OJ saying he did it.
  10. CONSUMING MEDIA DIFFERENTLY. Duh.

THEY’RE NOT WATCHING TV! THEY’RE ALL ON SOCIAL!

They sure like Game of Thrones. They still watch the Super Bowl. And they have new late night friends in Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah. I wish, when I was their age, that I had the option of skipping the latest toe fungus spot just by fast forwarding.

And as far as being obsessively all-things-social, investment firm Battery Ventures recently published a survey that contradicts this assumption. It seems that the social media obsessed twentysomethings aren’t that obsessed.

54 percent don’t have a Snapchat; 41 percent are not on Pinterest; 39 percent are not on Twitter or Instagram; 27 percent use their Facebook account once a week. And even that breaks down to two waves of Millennials: 20-25 year olds have more social media accounts, 26-35 year olds have less. So much for the matzo.

LET’S TAKE A TIME OUT.

What has changed is the increase in the number of pipes to reach Millennials and the number of screens they can watch. That’s true of us all. And that’s increased the number of ways we can all avoid being reached. Companies are just going to have to do it better. Advertising communications is the floor-show of Capitalism, and our brutal form of Big C capitalism can’t let any of us watch the show without paying a cover charge. Sometimes I sense corporate frustration with this generation because they have so many ways to ignore The Man. Not to mention that after paying the cover and being shown a horrible show, they now have the power to tell the rest of the world not to come. And boy, does that upset share-holder-value.

START TELLING BETTER STORIES. GET EXCITED BY ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN SHARE THEM.

Human beings respond to stories. It’s how they make sense of their lives. So tell good ones. Read their world. Tell them stories that have empathy with what they are going through. Make the story something grander than your product, just like you should make your company something more compelling than what you make. Every artist, in every art form, is thrilled by the new ways they can share their art. Turn your company into an artist. Make your product art.

THEY LOVE TO LAUGH! THEY ALSO LOVE TO CRY!

One of the other “revelations” about Millennials is: They like humor! Guess what? We all do. Ever since the first cave man slipped on a banana peel while trying to spear a Woolly Mammoth, we love to laugh. But humor is a three-headed Kraken: Droll. Funny. Hilarious.

Droll is The Most Interesting Man in the World. Funny is GEICO. Hilarious is the Adobe “Click, Baby, Click” Spot. Caution: Beware of hilarious unless you can do it this well, with a strategy this tight, and allow the story to unfold before unleashing the logo.

Walt Disney once said that it was easy to make people laugh at Mickey, but that didn’t earn animation respect. He said that for animation to be respected as an art form, it had to make them cry. And so he spent the next three years making Snow White. And at the premiere, he made them cry all the way to the after party.

When advertising is art, it makes you feel immensely about something you didn’t think much about before. So, although beer advertising veers to funny, guess what the most loved spot of the 2015 Super Bowl was? That’s right. A lost puppy.

WORRY LESS ABOUT HOW TO REACH THEM. WORRY MORE ABOUT WHAT TO REACH THEM WITH.

The challenge to being remembered is – to quote Talking Heads – the same as it ever was. We like to laugh. We like to cry. That’s it. When you understand how to construct great stories, when you allow your company to be human, when you realize that you are an invited guest in the living room of the Millennials entitled, skeptical brains, and you delight and amaze them, you’ll get invited back.

And when you embrace the fact that these new pipes can actually take your story to epic proportions, that’s when you’ll really reach Millennials.

And every generation before and after them.