When they say “all press is good press, even when it’s bad press”… I don’t think anyone envisioned we’d be making our way through this kind of start to Miss America 2015’s reign.
Although the original ‘cups controversy’ seems to have faded to the background, multiple new “topics” have arisen in its place. First, it was Kira’s internship at Planned Parenthood… then John Oliver’s expose that Miss America doesn’t actually give away 45 million dollars in scholarships… then Kate Shindle’s commentary about the broadcast itself… and of course, the revelation that Kira was dismissed from her sorority at Hofstra because of hazing allegations. Good Gollie Miss Mollie… Kinda makes you miss the good old days when we were just crowning the wrong winners, doesn’t it?!!! LOL! 🙂
Well – Never Fear! Junkies are here to help you sort it all out! In fact, we’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to read between the lines and see through the fluff in order to determine who the heck is “Driving the Bus” at the Miss America Organization…
As we started analyzing all of this, one thing kept sticking out to us… Over and over again, we keep hearing the phrase “little girls”…
Nina always said she was excited that “little girls” could now look at her and see themselves becoming Miss America because of her skin color. Kira wants to relate to “little girls” via the cups and tell “little girls” it’s OK to make mistakes.
So – Junkies have to ask… Since when do the opinions of “little girls” drive the daily decisions of the Miss America organization?
In order to answer that question, we think it’s important to go back to the beginning and give you a little perspective.
For umpteen years, advertisers were raving about the coveted “Baby Boomer” demographic. Brands and businesses did everything they could to market to Baby Boomers because they had sheer numbers worthy of making an impact – let alone unprecedented amounts of disposable dollars! If Boomers bought your product or displayed a positive association to your brand, your life was good.
But as Boomers grew older, things began to change. Advertisers discovered you couldn’t promote products/brands to Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials the way you did Boomers. Why? Not necessarily because of how each successive generation responded, but because of how the world according to Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials, changed.
Here’s an example. Back in the early 80’s – If you didn’t purchase a Cabbage Patch Kid for your child, you were basically the worst mom in history, right? Why? Because marketers TOLD MOMS what their little girls wanted under the Christmas tree. Yes – kids still circled their favorite toys in the annual JC Penny’s catalog – but it was still the advertisers who TOLD MOMS what their kids needed on Christmas morning. Year after year, that advertising strategy continued… Advertisers told moms what was “cool” and then moms told their children what was “cool” – based on the information they received from marketers.
Fast forward to today’s world of texting, smart phones, social media and the Disney Channel.
Guess what? Advertisers no longer bother marketing to parents, because they can go straight to the kids! Originally, this was seen as a pretty risky move because after all, parents still controlled the purse strings in the household. However, that’s when an unprecedented and unexpected shift took place. When advertisers stopped telling moms what to buy and started telling kids what to buy, moms no longer had the same level of influence over their children. Instead, children began influencing their parent’s perceptions of a brand – and the moms accepted it.
Super savvy marketers know this and are clamoring to reach younger and younger demographics any way they can – because they have the access (social media) and the ear (smart phones) of the newest, most influential person in the family… A teenage girl.
So how does this relate to Miss America you ask? Here’s how….
In decades gone by, families could sit around the television and engage in a bit of nostalgia regarding Miss America (with Mama telling her daughter how she remembered watching Miss America with Grandma when she was a little girl…). Back then, mom could easily influence her daughter by talking about the attributes she found appealing regarding each contestant – including her talent, her beauty, her clothing choices, and her poise.
But today, IF the family sits down to watch another reality show, any girl who’s 12-16 is texting her friends and checking twitter and snapchat before solidifying her own opinion about a contestant… AND IN MANY CASES, she’s going to be the one TELLING HER MOM who she should like and why. The “buying decisions” are now influenced by the girls of the household and mom accepts it.
I realize this isn’t the case with each and every household in America… But advertising budgets don’t lie. More often than not, when it comes to products that need early branding, companies are spending billions of dollars to ensure they reach “little girls”.
Which explains why Miss America placed such a heavy emphasis on social media this year. It also explains why they crowned an extremely articulate girl with a non-traditional talent. Further, it explains why the narrative remains about “little girls” instead of the people who are in the trenches – or even the contestants themselves.
If little girls don’t care, Miss America no longer cares.
In our opinion, this is the new direction of Miss America. MAO is bypassing mama and marketing directly to a new generation of contestants. These girls have grown up watching shows where we text in our vote for the winner, throw people off the island, and find your husband by going on ‘group dates’ via national television! “Little girls” are now the coveted demographic – and it’s important that Miss America be seen in a positive light to them.
Truth is, if Miss America can capitalize on that demographic – they will gain a positive brand image and sponsorship dollars galore! Seriously – we’re talking BIG, BIG money!!! Therefore, it’s no longer about the girl with the best talent or the prettiest girl in the room or even the girl with the best talking points… It’s about the girl who can connect with the most coveted audience on the planet; 12-16 year old girls.
So… Where does that leave Junkies like us?
Well… If “little girls” are now “Driving the Bus” – Ideally, it will allow us to embrace a new generation of contestants who should have a positive image of Miss America. In theory, that means each new winner we crown, and the organization as a whole, will become more and more relevant in today’s bubble-gum, pop-culture society.
Or will she?
Junkies know that advertising actions always have consequences. And by promoting the image that “Anyone can be Miss America” – the same way that anyone can become a YouTube sensation – Miss America is falling into the television trap of more salaciousness, less intelligence.
In short, Miss America becomes nothing more than another name on the rotating carousel of reality stars. She’s no longer an ideal to aspire towards – she’s just the Hollywood flavor of the month.
The truth is, we could be wrong. This could all be a misguided theory that has nothing to do with the direction of Miss America and we just wasted a couple of hours of our life writing this post.
Trouble is – I have a nagging suspicion that we’re right.
Miss America is in a dog fight for dollars – the dollars that are controlled by the actions of little girls.
And if “little girls” are driving the direction of Miss America, something tells me we’re in for a mighty bumpy ride…
Photos courtesy of Miss America Facebook pages