Something I learned from Matthew Ball* is how multimedia companies who invest in the intellectual property we consume as children
(i.e. superheroes and princesses) are simultaneously seeking short-term reward from the latest movie, show or video game as well as the long-term reward of seeding nostalgia that future adults will likely pass to their own kids. It’s cultural lock-in at its finest. Star Wars and Marvel really are the new religions.
A generational fan building property can be an incredible compounding machine for a business.* When lifetime value becomes lifetimes value (plural!), it’s exponentially magical. This is why the mouse chased after the superheroes and space samurai. People ought to start muttering, “Mickey H. Mouse.”
If you own the hearts and minds of kids across mediums, from movies, theme parks. TV, video games, socials, and whatever comes next, you own current attention and future nostalgia. If you do it digitally, in what Ball calls the metaverse, It’s the ultimate trans-generational brand strategy. It’s far bigger than Disney* too as Ball says. The battle right now is to create the stories and worlds that will capture this, with Fortnite and The Witcher as two prime examples.
Whether it’s character-driven content or even fast food (ex. Happy Meals and adult options with multiple order, pickup and delivery options, think about the trans-generational strategy here), Ball is making me rethink how all businesses present across the age stack. How we appeal to the youngest audience that needs/wants our products and services matters now more than ever for our long-term survival.
Industries focused solely on one age group or demographic sweet spot may be missing the lesson. Look for the stories that don’t just create lifetime value, but lifetimes values. Look for what has the potential to be the new religions, and study them. These are models we all want to be able to understand as they apply to our professions.
*listen to Matthew Ball’s full conversation with Patrick O’Shaughnessy on the Invest Like the Best Podcast, ep. 185.
** I am not suggesting Disney or any other company referenced here in any way shape or form as an investment. This is about how brands invest in their own content and presentation. Do with that what you will.