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July 10 2018

PHD Spain: The typical atypical target

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We are light years away from that great family who had Pepe Isbert as a grandfather with 15 children, with a mother who was not working and a father who was moonlighting, whose main aspiration was to have a television, like the one he sees in the neighbour’s house, looking out onto the patio.

Spanish homes are not what they were. We have aged. The average age of the “housewife” is 55 years. Spain is one of the countries of the EU in which children take longer to become independent: close to 30 years old. Almost a decade later than the Nordics.

The “Hotel Parents” model is on the rise:

  • 3 million young people declare that they expect to leave their parents’ house in the next 12 months, however…
  • …Only 600,000 have actually become independent in the last 12 months.

We are now people who want everything, we want to be different, special, live several lives. To flow, to inhabit that liquid society that the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman so well defined. The goodbye to the solid realities of our grandparents, such as work and marriage for a lifetime, to make way for a more precarious, provisional world, anxious for novelties and, often, exhausting. Today we assume that love is not for life. There is less commitment, “we flow more.” We are the single self, the married self, the separated self, the self with shared custody. One week I’m a father, another week I’m a boyfriend, and another week I’m single.

And it’s not just about the sentimental situation. The times of job stability have come to an end. Last month I was working, now I’m unemployed: 1.2 million claim to have been unemployed in the last 12 months, and just over seven hundred thousand expect to be unemployed in the next 12 months. And this instability or fluidity, as we like to call it, affects us in all the vital areas that traditionally define us as a target: 1.8 million individuals expect to leave everything and change their lives in the next year.

Life expectancy is 83 years old. The single phenomenon grows. Another target on the rise. Each time there are more singles by choice, who decide to swim in that liquid society, sometimes as a couple, sometimes not, demanding, with high purchasing power, target of enormous appeal for large consumption, and who feel far from communication of the brands.

A recent study by the YouGov agency states that 47% of singles feel that their lifestyle is unfortunately not reflected in advertising. And two thirds of singles are firmly convinced that advertising only portrays the roles of those who are part of classic families as desirable.

However, the classic families, those couples with children and smiles that advertising strives to show us again and again, only represent about 3 of every 10 Spanish families. If singles feel underrepresented publicly speaking, other targets that are less conventional or that represent a certain rejection in more traditional parts of society, such as LGBT collectives, should feel invisible.

We are many types of families beyond the typical family with children, and what is key: we are variable, versatile, liquid – we are mutant targets. Families, homes, individuals, we’re targets – susceptible to change at high speed.

We are all those possible targets, with a common denominator, “to feel special”, because above all, we do not want to be “the typical target”.

What is the challenge? To know each one of these infinite mutant targets that constitute the Spanish reality really well, make them feel special, and get them to think we are addressing them and not others. Because you are not the “typical” reader of articles about targets, are you? You are much more.

The full article was authored by Gema Fernández in Spanish for

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