STATE OF AMERICA
Women Dominate Pop Culture – If last year marked genuine breakthrough for women in comedy, then a new breed of female hero owns 2012. The baddest, bravest superhero this Summer wasn’t a man in a suit of iron. It was 6 yr. old Hushpuppy in indie sensation Beasts of the Southern Wild. “I gotta take care of mine,” she says at one point, which neatly sums up the driving motivation of devoted big sister Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. In the Pixar hit Brave, Princess Merida is more concerned with her own self-interest which refreshingly does not include finding true love. There seems to be a legitimate shift in how pop culture serves and represents women. “The more women on screen, the more people are going to see their choices, their hopes, their dreams, their sense of humor reflected back at them,” says 2 Broke Girls creator Michael Patrick King. No better evidence of this is the next big buddy-cop comedy The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy instead of the typical two male leads.
BRAVE NEW CONSUMER
Young People More Financially Responsible Than Parents – As older Americans lose jobs, lose homes and delay retirement, their children are watching and reacting. Growing numbers of young Americans are boosting savings, cutting spending and planning for retirement. Many people in their 20s and 30s while struggling with debt, low income and unemployment are still managing to be financially responsible. Young adults are now saving more and starting earlier than people their age used to, according to several broad measures. Of employees under age 25, 44% participated in their companies’ 401(k) retirement plans in 2011, up from just 27% in 2003, according to Vanguard Group Inc. While they still face serious student debts, young people also have cut back on credit-card debt. The under-35 group was the only age group that saw average credit-card balances fall. Ernst & Young, which gives financial-planning services to employees of many large companies, said inquiries from younger employees were up. “Friends of mine in our 20s, we joke that there isn’t going to be any Social Security when we get old enough to collect,” said Sean McGroarty, a DJ. “But it isn’t really a joke. What are we going to do after we retire?”
Target’s Shoppable Film –
Target is releasing an episodic series of short films starring Kristen Bell, Nia Long and Zachary Abel where everything on-screen is for sale. The company unveiled the three episodes of “Falling for You” last week. The occasion was the first public viewing – in its entirety – of the 12-minute romantic comedy directed by Emmy-winning director Phil Abraham and featuring in nearly every frame some 110 Target-exclusive items from clothing to pencil holders to chairs. The items can also be seen scrolling up the right edge of the screen, where they can be purchased or shared via social media. The plot of “Falling for You,” involves two Target employees (played by Bell and Abel) who pitch competing ideas for the retailer’s fall fashion campaign to their boss (played by Long). The first installment of “Falling,” went live on Target’s website on Oct. 2, with consecutive episodes posted on Oct. 4 and 9. Story-wise, those webisodes lead into a Web-streamed live event scheduled for Oct. 10 in New York City that Target will use to launch its fall fashion campaign. “It’s a very exciting concept,” Kristen Bell said. “It felt very fluid. A lot of it is just showing things in their natural habitat. I felt like it was more natural than a product-placement situation on a film set.”
Living In A Social Era – If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people and ideas. Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs. Things we once considered opposing forces–doing right by people and delivering results, collaborating and keeping focus, having a social purpose and making money–are really not in opposition. New business models have formed to adapt to these forces and thrive in this social era as organizations realize they no longer create value all by themselves. In these new business models, organizations have let go at the top, forsaking proprietary claims and avoiding hierarchy to gain agility and flexibility. They’ve also sacrificed short-term payoffs for long-term prosperity. They’ve recognized “doing work” no longer requires a badge and a title within a centralized organization. Anyone–without pre-approval or vetting or criteria–will create and contribute making this process essential to finding solutions to new problems. More and more companies have embraced consumers as “co-creation” partners in their innovation efforts, instead of as buyers at the end of a value chain. Adaptability has been central to how organizations and people thrive in this social era. So listen, learn and adapt.
ON THE RADAR
Try This App: The Social Radio is an app that uses text-to-speech technology to let you listen to tweets and Facebook status updates while you listen to the music you love. This app is especially useful for people driving on the road who a) want to keep their eyes on the road and b) find it clunky to continuously switch between a music app and a social app like Twitter. Download this app and listen to your Twitter timeline, trending topics, and funny hashtags turn into a beautifully mixed audio-experience.
Read This Book: Disney Publishing, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, recently released a digital book for the iPad titled “Frankenweenie: An Electrifying Book,” a making-of look at Tim Burton’s upcoming feature. The e-book, which is free on Apple’s iBookstore, contains original art and production photos, music and video interviews. Disney Publishing is exploring opportunities to update the e-book’s content over time, which has the potential of turning Frankenweenie into a never-ending story.
Try This Search:Adding to the fun and games already hidden within its search box, Google‘s newest addition is a tool that makes it easier to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Just type in “bacon number” followed by your thespian of choice, and the first result will be the degrees of separation between that person and Kevin Bacon. Not only is Bacon Number a fun tool, but it also demonstrates the promises of a piece of Google search technology called the Knowledge Graph. It is a database that maps facts and how different people, places and things relate to one another.