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February 10, 2023
July 27, 2023

Sweet talk

Forget the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year; a more accurate barometer of the nation’s vernacular could in fact be the humble love heart sweet.

Months before each Valentine’s Day, confectionary companies begin updating their messages so that no one is confused by out-of-date flirting such as ‘Fax me’ or ‘Excuse my dust’ (big in the 1900s apparently). 

In fact, the conversational sweet can tell us all sorts about human relationships through the ages. 

As long ago as 1867 it featured catchy expressions such as ‘Mother knows I’m out’ and ‘Married in pink, he will take a drink.’ (As well as ingredients that included morphine and heroin).

Then sugary hearts came along in 1902 when phrases were shortened slightly to ‘I’ll see you home’ and ‘The one I love’. 

By the 1980s things took a digital turn. ‘Call me’ became ‘Fax me’, which became ‘Page me’, followed by ‘Email me’ and then ‘Text me’. 

‘You’re gay’ was retired for obvious reasons.

So what’s this year’s? They’re yet to be revealed apparently, but being a Gen Xer, I probably won’t recognise them. Love hearts are for kids after all.

That’s how it should be. 

I wish financial marketing kept pace with its audience as diligently as these confectioners

Addressing silver haired Baby Boomers on yachts is the equivalent of embossing boiled sweets with ‘Groovy baby’, and yet it’s still the prevailing approach in financial marketing.

But it’s not just that it’s cheesy. It’s also just wrong. 

As Andrew Moore of Goodmans FP and I discussed recently, most Boomers (1943–1960) are now well past retirement age. The current spike in people leaving the workforce early means that Gen X – those born between 1961 and 1981 – is now making up the bulk of a planner’s target audience. 

This is largely being ignored. And yet the two generations have very different characteristics. 

According to Andrew Gen Xers aren’t motivated by status, they don’t care much for rules and are relatively individualistic. 

For me, the character that most encapsulates this is Happy Valley’s determined, straight-talking, hard working hero Sgt Catherine Cawood. "I’m going to drive to the Himalayas," she announces as she discusses her retirement in episode one. "I'm just becoming the person I've always wanted to be."

She is in her prime. And knows it.

Like Cawood, many Gen Xers are healthy, wealthy and, well, mouthy. Confident, free spirited and relatively clear on what they want. They need to work with someone who can accommodate their determination, offer creative solutions and make it happen

Failing to make this clear could be a missed opportunity.

Call me. 

Shameless plug

A company in St Petersburg is offering the opportunity to try out your own funeral, but surely there are other ways to bring to life the concept of death and old age I ask in this month’s Money Marketing.


Nick Cave wasn’t impressed when a fan used ChatGPT, the OpenAI chatbot, to write lyrics in his style. The chorus goes: "I am the sinner / I am the saint / I am the darkness / I am the light." Cave called them "a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human"

Fun fact

Fans who lavished $600 on a ‘hand-signed’ collection of Bob Dylan’s essays have been given refunds after spotting that the rock star’s signature had been generated by a machine.

Retirement environment

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