One of the keys (not the only key, but a very important key) to advertising and selling to Generation X is to connect to their families. Gen X are the generation who were born and grew up in the 1970s and early 80s. They are not “the young people” anymore, although this is still how Boomers think of them.

They’re in their 30s and early 40s, have families, mortgages and mid life issues. They’re as settled as they’re ever going to be (although this isn’t what it looked like for the Boomers). One of the things they’re very focused on is their families. Some of these middle managers, for example, are turning down promotions – not because they don’t want to move up in their companies, but because they don’t want to move their families to a new location (their son just made the first sports team at school, and they don’t want to move him). And they will prioritise family time more than any previous generations.

So, if you want to impress them, get their attention, touch their emotions and connect with them, it would be a good idea to connect with their sense of family values. But it’s a new type of family these days, isn’t it?

Microsoft’s latest campaign attempts to do just that – and they get it mainly right. “It’s a great time to be a family” is the tag line, and the series of adverts portray families using technology to do traditional family activities in exciting new ways. Here’s a great example (see more below):

They are really well put together and strike a chord with Gen X. To connect with Gen X you need to show that you understand the new rhythms and relationships of today’s families. They’ve also been adapted for different cultures (there are some excellent changes made for different countries in the homework video, for example – I like the Indian version best; compare it to this).

But they also show the limitations of traditional advertising these days. If you’re an Apple fan, for example, you’d be very unlikely to change across to a PC with Windows based on these adverts – you might even laugh a bit as you realise how simple graphics, videos and multimedia are on Apple compared to Windows. And if you own a PC, you get Windows standard, so I am not sure what these adverts are trying to do. Surely, Microsoft can funnel their creativity (and awesome budget) into something that achieves a lot more.

The connection with a generation’s value is important – in fact, a vital starting point. But you then also need to connect with the experiences of that generation and communicate with them in ways that make sense to them. This series of adverts from Microsoft does the first thing brilliantly, but falls short on the rest. But, that’s better than most, who don’t even pass the first connection hurdle with this middle aged, but still much misunderstood, generation.

Some other adverts from this series include:

PS – isn’t interesting that these last two adverts are from different sides of the planet, and are for different cultures, but they use the same music?

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