Posted by Bradley Moseley-Williams on March 19th, 2009
Readers can consider this a blog post by popular demand. The blogosphere and twitterscene (a word I hope I just coined) are small places; look around and you’ll see a familiar handle.
Futurecasting—something I enjoy as a mild hobby—is a career byproduct. Most PR counsellors practice it at some level. As a lazy blogger (I want to, but I find I don’t make time for it) I have been encouraged to blog more, worry about it less, and go for broke.
This, therefore, is broke. This is what I am following, noticing, observing and paying attention to across various media, scenes, sites and places:
The world’s greatest ponzi scheme is unfolding; Bernard Madoff (which google) is in jail and the legal entities of the United States and Elsewhere are now eyeing his family’s assets with narrowing eyes and a sceptical expression. In a time when many people are questioning how oversight bodies (SEC et al) failed to catch a theft of such magnificent proportion it behooves government agencies to now—perhaps “at last”—step in and show that they are up to the job at hand. That means that la famille Madoff can expect a large team of forensic accountants to exhume every cheque, chit, IOU and other financial instrument going back to who-knows-when and—I hereby predict—confiscate anything that isn’t nailed down. (Even the family piano, according to one report, is under threat of immediate confiscation.) Taking possession of Mrs Madoff’s piano will not nullify her husband’s crimes, but it looks good (the optics of it, if you will) for a public eager to see justice served no matter how late or cold.
Live cheaper to live better? When times get tough people turn to kith and kin for solace and comfort. What is more comforting than a home-cooked meal? A pleasant stroll through a local bookstore conglomerate reveals the new reality of kitchen fun: Cookbooks promoting casserole cooking, slow cooking (see: Futurecasting) and all manner of delectable meals on the cheap are currently in vogue. The very notion of “cooking” is now back in vogue after a long-ish hiatus as a pleasant pass time for busy people. Cooking—the dreary need to prepare meals for yourself or family—was a basic fact of life through much of history. In the latter end of the 20th century, however, cooking—the bane of housewives for eons—morphed into a soci0-economic totem of the good life. Cooking became an activity for couples to share as they entertained on weekends with artfully turned out meals paired with the proper wines, artisan cheeses and unique appetizers. By the turn of the century (that is, 1999 into 2000) fast food, take-out, home delivery, personal chefs and “assembled meals” had taken precedence at the family table and cooking was firmly established as a hobby.
Luxury that shows is no longer desirable. Famous brands (Royal Daulton, Waterford Crystal, Wedgwood) that reigned for the longest possible time in the finest homes and dining rooms are facing the sad fact that they are in trouble. Public Luxury—which used to something most people aspired to—is now unfashionable. While it is possible to hide your luxury at home (you can drink beer in a Waterford goblet if you draw the curtains) it is impossible to hide your luxury in public. Famous automobile marques (Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Bentley and so forth) will sit longer on the showroom floor while a careful public reconsiders its values. Marketing luxury in an economic storm requires a deft touch; the focus needs to change to “value” and “craftsmanship” and there can be no references to ego-features (custom stitching on leather seats, say, or engines with 8 more cylinders than are strictly required) as in the good old days of joyful and exuberant conspicuous consumption.
This blog is dedicated to Jason Ashton.