|“Ok boomer” has made the leap into marketing: The phrase is now social media fodder for brands from Netflix to Vice to Four Loko. At this point, it’s practically the default response for younger-skewing brands looking to roll their eyes at a competitor. (Advertising Age)|
If Boomers were hoping that the internet would soon forget the viral meme meant to undermine their holy opinions, their wish did not come true (see also “You’re OK Boomer”). With the growing popularity of the “ok boomer” meme, advertising execs did what they do best… corporatize internet culture.
Company Twitter pages have been leaning into Millennial meme culture for years. Wendy’s, for example has gained a loyal following for its viral tweets “roasting” its competitors by using the day’s most popular memes. It now have 3.4 million followers. While some Boomers are crying ageism, the companies most embracing the meme are more popular with younger generations. Four Loko and Natty Light are guzzled by poor college students; they don’t need to worry about ruffling Boomer feathers.
Meanwhile, the media commentary on "OK Boomer" rolls on. An Xer writing in the Boston Globe says he kinda likes it because it's a zinger that either shuts Boomers up or just infuriates them. (The famous Gen-X comeback at Boomers, often heard during the 1990s, was "whatever"--performed with an eyeroll.)
Abigail Disney, a Boomer heiress to the iconic media company, commented on twitter that Boomers ought to relax and just "let the kids take the wheel." In an Axios interview, Senior VP of AARP Myrna Blyth (age 80), tried awkwardly to flip the script by replying "Ok Millennials, but we have all the money." That did not go over well--and she later apologized. She would have been smarter to just stay out of the argument by saying, hey, I'm not a Boomer. That's what William Shatner (age 88) did. "Sweetheart, that's the compliment for me," he wrote on Twitter.
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ABOUT NEIL HOWE
Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.
A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.
Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."
Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.
Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.
Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.