Is There Anything Really New?

I have been around a long time. I am in my 60th year. Over 30 of those years have been in the sponsorship marketing industry. I left home (living under the same roof as my parents and siblings) at the age of 12. I have seen a lot happen over the years. Sometimes, I just wonder… is there really anything new… or is it all just updated and adapted?

I was thinking about this over the long weekend. I thought about “the good old days” and even before that. I looked at the products and services we had back then, what has disappeared over the years, and what has returned in one form or another.

Here are a few things that came to mind.

  • When I was growing up, there was a guy who delivered milk to our door each morning. My mom left a note in the milk chute saying how much milk we needed, how much cream, cottage cheese, and so on. We put our empties in the chute with the note of needs and he took them away for recycling. Then that disappeared. We picked up the milk ourselves at the store. No need for the “middleman.” Low and behold, today we are ordering milk and other products online to be delivered to our homes. In fact, we can order a single slice of pizza and have it delivered. And we do!!! Products used to be delivered to our door, and now 50+ years later, it has come full circle and is being done again.
  • Also when I was growing up, at the beach we had a party telephone line with different “rings.” The folks’ cottage that we spent summers at was “two longs and a short.” The Jones’ was “long short long short.” And the McGilvery’s was “two shorts and a long.” You could have three to four households on a call together—or you could actually listen in on someone else’s call. Today, we call those group calls either conference calls or Zoom calls. Yes, we have several people on a call just because we can. And yes, just the same, there are those Zoom crashers who slide in without us knowing—just like on the party line!
  • When Charles Dickens first wrote David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, and others, they were not novels. They were articles, serials. He wrote a chapter a week or each month and it appeared in a magazine. People bought the magazine the next month to find out what happened from the dramatic “chapter” ending last month. Then eventually, those serials were combined into books and published. The same happened with TV. We had drama series and soap operas that strung you along form one week to the next. Eventually, we found we could subscribe to an app or service that allowed us to watch a whole season at once. From there came Netflix originals where all the episodes are released at once (just like serials being converted into novels)! Funny how the medium has changed, but the cycle has not.
  • Sponsorships have also come full circle. With the advent of radio and TV, we had “sponsors” who were endorsed by the actors and host. Product placement abounded. That all disappeared with the arrival of the 30- and 60-second commercial. And sponsorship was basically throwing away dollars—all you got was “Tonight’s show is brought to you by Bulova watches” or whatever. But that was it—a name plate. Today, we see sponsor products once again integrated not only through product placement, but also content integration and sometimes set location. Once again, sponsorship is an activated part of the production versus a “hanging banner.”

What was the outcome of this unplanned exercise? What did I learn, or possibly re-learn? It became evident to me that, when you focus on the needs of your customer, you win. Understand that convenience has once again become important (along with health safety), so home delivery is important.  We are social by nature, so the more folks we can engage at once, the happier we are—the return of the party line (sort of)! Publishing and marketing have also come full circle—and more than once. You need to do the research, be adaptable, and alter your product offering as your consumer changes and adapts. And sometimes, it comes full circle, like many of these products have done.

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