Is Santa the best marketer ever? Perhaps.

Consider the evidence:

Long-term reputation management. No steroid use or bogus investment schemes here.  Ever.   

Take Coca-Cola with its 80-year investment in the big guy.  Do you think that Coke worries that a YouTube video will surface, showing 7-year-old girls making lead-laden toys in the Korean outpost of Santa’s Workshop Inc.? Not likely. 

And then there’s the third rail: do you think that Mrs. Claus has ever found “hundreds of texts” between Santa and that dumb blonde the Easter Bunny married? Or that’s she’s had to accompany her husband to the hospital for alcohol poisoning (paging Charlie Sheen – again)?

No, no and no.  Santa is one reliable dude. And he appears to do what’s right even when no one is looking.

Brand promise and the “continuous connected experience.” No matter where you go, you get the same reinforcing message from and about @SantaClaus.  Movies, television, email, social media, online video, radio, snail mail, retail – it doesn’t matter.   He has a booming voice, he’s fat, he wears a red suit and he brings good stuff. 

And the other thing is… even if you bop from one medium to the other, you won’t lose your place.  Forrester calls this the continuous connected experience.  Santa is suggesting you be prepared to deliver your own in 2011.

Engagement.  Is there any experience more anticipated than Santa’s arrival?  And how about expectations met and exceeded? That’s unless you’ve been bad, of course, in which case you should consult the Terms and Conditions.

Accurate, On-Time Delivery.  Neither WikiLeaks, nor Chilean mining disasters, nor 0% interest rates will keep Santa from delivering the goods on Christmas Eve.  Not December 23. Not December 25. It’s December 24.  Every year. And the idea of getting your neighbor’s gift by mistake is simply inconceivable.

Supply Chain Management.  You have to admire the man’s ability to manage his vendors, handle inventory, move the merch and turn on a dime.  Your kid decides at the last minute that she wants a Wii instead of the bike that Santa has already bought and loaded on the sleigh?

The Wii will be under the tree, for sure.

Never any hidden charges. There are no Congressional committees convening to discuss whether Santa is taking advantage of consumers. There are no pending FTC rules in the pipeline. No small print.  Just because you get one set of skis, doesn’t mean that you’ve “agreed” to receive a new set every month (along with the bill). No nickel and diming. No charge for the second bag.

Santa’s pricing policies appears just perfect, in every product category ever invented.  And shipping is always free.

Brand advocacy. Think of all the parents who read stories about Santa, take their children to see Santa and tuck said children into bed on Christmas Eve with the promise that Santa will soon arrive with presents.  Even adults will sometimes tell each other what they want from Santa.  The dude’s got an army of advocates carrying his message each and every year, and everyone’s happy to do it.

Wow!  That’s gonna be a lot of “Likes” on Facebook.  A lot.

No invasive pat-downs.  Do you remember leaving cookies and milk out for Santa, and then sneaking down the stairs just in time to see him putting your presents under the tree? Well, when he saw you, did he beckon you over, force you through a machine and feel up your naughty bits?  Or when he came down your chimney, did your parents do these things to him before letting him into your living room?

TSA does not stand for “Total Santa Aggression.” Personal respect is important to ol’ Kris Kringle.

Returns and Exchanges.  No problem.  While one of Santa’s elves may ask you to accompany him to the mall, that’s a small price to pay for better loot.

Long-term view of the customer relationship. Santa is committed to lifetime value.  If you’re a kid, he wants you to tell your parents and your grandparents and your teachers all about what you want.  He wants you to post what he gave you on Facebook.  He wants to take a picture with you and your friends at the mall.  And when you grow up, he encourages you to invite him into your home and buy extravagant gifts in his name.

Santa: the ultimate “circle of life” promoter.

Customer targeting and personalization. If you ask Santa for an iTouch, you’re going to get an iTouch. You might also get underwear and dental floss (paging my childhood), but he will be sure that your music itch is scratched. And if you state a preference, Santa is also highly likely to deliver an iTouch in the color of your choice. With the accessories you mumbled something about last March.

He invites you to be a vital part of his brand and help make the world a better place.  Be nice, get your gift. Be naughty, and you’re on your own. No anonymous troll behavior on the Web, no TMZ stories, no threatening or yelling. Everyone knows the rules, the rules don’t change and there are big rewards for all. Or not.

Brand benefits powerful enough to overcome controversy. Santa has a problem that few other brands ever experience: that is, some people don’t believe he exists! You may not like Red Bull, or Microsoft, or Kim Kardashian, or whatever, but you wouldn’t think of denying their very existence on the planet.  And yet, Santa transcends even this existential challenge. Even those who say they “know” he doesn’t exist still enjoy the gestalt of the brand. Name me a pizza chain or a department store or search engine who can say the same.

I could go on (ultimate loyalty program, no channel conflict, customer service support…), but you get the idea.

I did think of one problem area this year: money management.  In his zeal to delight his customers, Santa does sometimes buy things he can’t really afford.  His heart’s in the right place, though, and I think a little executive coaching might do the trick.  I am confident that he will want to change once he understands the problem.

And so, as yet another December passes, perhaps we should all look to #Santa for guidance in the coming year. After all, his operation is well-loved, profitable, always in growth mode and a new, devoted customer is born every minute. I think most of us would be happy with that.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Marketing Executive Networking Group’s blog, MENGBlend.

The concept of fulfilling the wishes of poor children who write to Santa Claus is a century-old initiative first started by postal workers who were moved by such letters. In the 1940s, the post office began making such letters available to the public, and eventually “Operation Santa” was born.

New York was the first, but programs exist in NJ, Washington, Dallas and other cities. New York alone gets around 500,000 letters each year.

One year, my mom and I decided to participate. We made the trek to the 33rd Street Farley Post Office on the West Side, and sat on the floor reading letters. Some were goofy, with kids asking for cars and video games. Some made us cry, with children asking for a warm coat for a sibling, or shoes, or a job for a parent. You take as many letters as you can, purchase goods and then mail them to the family on your own.

This week, the program was suspended when a registered sex offender was spotted taking one of the letters. Apparently the guy meant no harm, but – when the program came back days later – it was materially changed.sad_tree.jpg

From now on, personal information on all the letters will be masked and you will have to return to the post office and give your package to a post office employee, who will then address and send your gift to the child whose letter you chose.

I predict that this will suppress participation, as some of the warmth of the process is drained away, and it’s going to put a horrendous level of stress and responsibility on the Post Office at the busiest time of year. Philadelphia mysteriously ended its program yesterday, saying its decision to halt the initiative 4 days earlier than planned had nothing to do with the breach. Unless they ran out of needy families, I doubt that.

As I said, folks, I got nothin’ on this one. No pithy observations. This is just bad bad bad at a time when the poor need more help than ever. I’m really sad about this.

Give to a foodbank, or go to a homeless shelter and offer gifts for children. Donate supplies to schools that cannot afford them. Resolve in 2009 to work with NY Cares or other organization to “adopt” a child in a school in need. Children do not deserve to suffer at this or any other time of year.

Operation Santa

In August, I wrote a post titled “Stephanie Fierman On Beer And Blahniks.” (or, Why Do Businesses Not Understand Women, Part 1).  The upshot of the post is that Guinness planned to launch a beer “for women” that was essentially a watered-down version of their existing product.   The head of marketing at Guinness said that he wanted women to love this new watery beer as much as they love high heels.

I felt sorry for him.  Sort of.  But no one else seemed to.

I added the post to Blogher, where it received praise from one of the site’s founders, Lisa Stone (thank you, Lisa!) and this from Liz Rizzo (aka Beer Lover): “I love beer WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY more than I love shoes.  And watered down Guinness?  For my sanity, I’m going to pretend that I never ever ever read those words.  They hurt me.” 

It’s frustrating.  There appears to be two prevailing views of women in most marketing efforts: (1) the good-time girl who weighs 90 pounds and lives only at night, goes out with lots of friends in great clothes, does not appear to have a job and loves your car/bodyspray/lipstick/ deodorant/liquor (Guinness), and (2) the mom (Best Buy).

But back to Best Buy in a minute.  First, an anecdote.

I was on a plane last night and watched Baby Mama.  Loved it.  Silly, and a bit like one SNL skit after another, but 98% fun overall.  It’s the story of an attractive, totally put-together non-spinster woman, played by Tina Fey, who has a nice life and great career.  She’d be happy to be in a relationship but is ok being alone at the moment.  She does, however, understand that her eggs can’t wait so she wants a baby.  Now.

Flash forward to Fey, her sister and their mother (played brilliantly by Two And A Half Men’s Holland Taylor) having dinner while discussing Fey’s intention to adopt or otherwise secure a baby.   While her sister is going along, Holland Taylor despairs, “not everyone is so supportive of your ‘alternative lifestyle.'” 

To which Fey responds: “Mother, being single is not an ‘alternative lifestyle.”

Mother:  “It is when you are 37 years old!”

Holy mackerel.  How and when did being fine and single become AN ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE??

So back to Best Buy.  Best Buy has gone for Door #2 as described above while exclaiming that they have created new stores “with women in mind.”  “Gone are the chain’s typical warehouse-like blue interiors… replaced instead by wood paneling.” A store for women apparently also needs family-friendly restrooms and race car-shaped shopping carts – because the only way a woman would ever venture into a Best Buy (sans male decision-maker) would be with her male children in tow?   If you click on the photo in this post, you will see shots of the interior of one of these stores. Note the cozy throw pillows and kitchen set-up.

I store things in my oven.

Ginger Sorvari Bucklin, Best Buy’s director of Winning With Women, explains that the chain has created these stores based on its appreciation of the fact that 45% of all electronics purchases are made by women.  The chain is paying attention.  They are spending the time. The new stores were more expensive to build than their standard model.  So why such a horrible blind spot?  Where is the understanding that women are a diverse crowd?  Some of us are single, some are married.  Some love babies, some don’t.  Some live in the city.  Some even live in the suburbs… alone (the horror).

I decided to google Best Buy’s endeavor and saw some seemingly positive reviews.  A site with the impressive URL GlobalMarketer.com praised Best Buy as being “best in class” based on its new stores targeting women.  I opened the article.  It starts with “My husband and I (Strike 1) walked into a Best Buy store in Richfield, Minnesota (Strike 2) at 1pm on a Sunday afternoon (Strike 3).” You can’t make this stuff up.  I have nothing against husbands, Minnesota or Sundays on their own but, seriously: this vision would actually drive me away from such a store. Especially on a Sunday when my friends and I are in Tribeca nursing Bloody Marys. Next!

It’s not only silly and frustrating to be seen exclusively as either a party girl or a candidate for Jon and Kate Plus Eight… it’s offensive and disrespectful – to all women.  I do not believe that most companies deliberately disrespect women.  Best Buy does not consciously disrespect women.  It’s worse:  companies so smugly assume that they know what women are and what women want – or what they need women to be – they simply disregard the possibility of anything to the contrary.

How Best Buy traveled from learning that “female customers wanted more help seeing how products could work together and fit into their lives” all the way to diaper changing tables and race car shopping cards is beyond me.  Sadly, the result will be beyond Best Buy when these stores fail to reach their full potential.

Best Buy   Best Buy women  

So I was sitting in a meeting just a few days ago, and someone I like and respect said something about “the long tail.”  A couple people sort of nodded, and I thought, “Oh my, are people still talking about that?”

You see, I am and always have been… a long tail doubter.  It’s true.  I’ve never said it out loud because the book was so very popular and the concept was picked up everywhere and it spread like wildfire, so I just kept my doubts to myself.  For two years.  Until now.

But first, a bit of history to catch us up to the present day.

Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, made a huge splash with The Long Tail, which was first published by the magazine in 2004 and then as a book in 2006.  In a nutshell, the long tail theory says that the abundance and ease of choice on the Internet has shifted sales potential from a small number of mainstream “hits” (at the front of the demand curve) toward a near-endless number of lesser-known choices at the tail.  The term refers to the orange section of the demand curve shown here:

stephanie-fierman-long-tail-curve.jpg

Furthermore, because retail economics restrict stores to carrying only the best-selling products, items that have already been created and have either lost their mojo or were never popular in the mainstream in the first place are pushed out – along with their sunk costs.  But lo the Internet, with its infinite “shelf space” makes every product discoverable and ready to be purchased.  The book has become something of a holy document in the Internet community where companies (“from Amazon to iTunes,” says Anderson on his website) want to find a way to sell old songs, movies, videos, ringtones, on-demand books and television shows from their infinite Web warehouses.  Case studies flew up everywhere. 

Personally, I thought it was bunk.  Or rather, I thought the concept vastly overdramatized the effect of a small minority of “committed seekers” dedicated enough to something (comic books, that lost Marvin Gaye song, Civil War spoons…) to search for and purchase a category’s flotsam and jetsam.

When I looked around, in fact, it seemed that the rest of us were doing quite the opposite.  The New York Times’ Most Blogged, Most Emailed and Most Searched lists.  Top TV Shows, Top Music, Top Movies on iTunes.   Amazon.com’s influential Sales Rank, and its Bestsellers list (updated hourly).  The Netflix Top 10.  To me, the Internet appeared to be herding users more aggressively toward blockbusters, not away from them.

Like I said:  I kept this then un-hip and un-scientific opinion to myself.

Now there’s a professor at Harvard Business School who has researched the long tail. Based on sales data for online video rentals and songs, Professor Anita Elberse verifies my gut: not only do hits continue to be just as important online as they are online, but the Web is actually magnifying attention on the winners.

Elberse also discusses what she and others view as an incorrect subjective assumption that Anderson made when building the long tail, which is the idea that people want to go their own way.  They don’t want to listen/watch/read what everyone else does, and would rather wander down an untrodden hallway of the Web and find an otherwise discarded gem.  Who is he kidding?  Elberse cites additional research showing how intensely social people really are: how we like sharing experiences with others and that the mere fact that others like something makes us like it even more. 

And confirmation has come from another interesting source, as well.  Neil Howe, widely considered to be the expert on Millenials, draws a broad distinction between Gen X and this new influential group – the generation driving the most development and change on the Web. Among other things, while Boomers and Gen X “individuated,” born-in-the-80s Millenials gravitate toward the social:  chat rooms, instant messaging, Facebook.  They enjoy being with each other, forming friendships and shared preferences.  Rather than acting independently, Millenials who spend time customizing content on the Web do so for the purpose of sharing it with others (hello, YouTube). 

stephanie-fierman-millenials-wom.jpg
                                         (Click on the graphic for a larger view)

Howe says it is and will be “the most connected generation in world history,” and that their preferences will only solidify the popularity of mainstream, popular brands and products.
Finally, Elberse and The Wall Street Journal‘s Lee Gomes also believe that the Internet/tech community unconsciously may have wanted to back the theory because it flattered its citizenry.  Long tail strength would fortify the value of new digital assets created outside the walls of institutional, cultural power (let’s build a pet robot in my garage, shoot a video for YouTube and get rich!).  And bloggers drank the Kool-Aid, they say, because the long tail promises an audience for just about any goofy comment out there.  This is all probably true, but it’s a little sketchy so I’m not going to dwell here.

But I am very, very happy that some respectable people with significant research refute the long tail theory.  Because – while I may not be a Millenial – I do like company.


If you enjoyed this post and wish there was so much more… Check out my daily blog at www.stephaniefiermanmarketingdaily.com. Thank you!


Have you heard of a virtual world  called Whyville?

SecondLife, Club Penguin (bought by Disney for $700 million if the owners hit their entire earn-out), There.com, Gaia, Barbie Girls, Webkinz… all of these I know.  And as a marketer, many of us have certainly looked at SecondLife in particular and said… do I have to?
 
But I somehow missed Whyville, even though it’s been around since 1999.  And more notable than its age  is its humility in the face of success:  the site has somewhere around 2.4 million active users age 8-15 (70% of whom are registered), and 60,000 new kids register each month.   As virtual worlds go, users can do all the standard things – you can chat with your friends, earn currency to buy stuff, etc. – but Whyville offers an amazing twist, a la Jerry Seinfeld’s wife hiding squash in chocolate chip cookies to get her kids to eat vegetables…

 Whyville members can play games that are actually educational – a strategy that the site’s COO calls “active brain advertising.”  Kids whose avatars don’t eat nutritionally might find their little fake selves’ faces pockmarked with scurvy; others had to clean up after the advertiser Penguin Books caused a devastating storm as part of a campaign for Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

So what is this place??  Whyville’s “About Us” section says that it was founded “to apply over 20 years of research in education and cooperative learning to develop new web-based tools for education,” and the company works with partners such as Getty, NASA and the School Nutrition Association to create and deliver fun content that is also educational.  Increasingly, Whyville is finding its way into the classroom, providing the ultimate endorsement.

 The site does work with advertisers and paying sponsors, like Penguin and Virgin Records, but I was impressed to learn that it also surveys members before and several times after a campaign as to the effectiveness of the advertising, possible purchase intent and other factor.  That’s good for the advertisers and the site as it works to refine its programming and adhere to its mission.  To the extent it can, I hope that Whyville continues to stay about reproach:  a Toyota campaign caught some flak – not a lot, but such an obvious play to get kids to influence their parents’ purchase of a car could have taken a chink out of the site’s educational armor.
 
And that’s not worth the risk because this is a pretty amazing site.  Luckily, just because I missed it doesn’t mean others have:  Whyville won the 2006 iParenting award for being the best kids Web site and best on the Web for its safety features.   And to me all this spells opportunity:  for kids, their parents and teachers, advertisers… and maybe a buyer in the future?secondlifesecond-life

Mattel’s Missed Opportunity

September 24th, 2007

The most recent news on the Mattel toy recall story is the company’s apology to China.



Clearly Mattel and the entire toy industry have serious challenges right now, but this post is not about China, or manufacturing or lead paint: it’s about how puzzled I am that Mattel – the world’s biggest and perhaps most repected toy company – would permit others to control the story, particularly when the web makes it so easy to get a message out quickly, clearly, repeatedly and directly. Let’s look at just the last several days.

On Friday, September 21, Thomas Debrowski, Mattel’s head of operations, appeared on camera in China to personally apologize for its massive recall of Chinese-made toys.  Mattel made the decision to do this because most of the items were defective due to a (Mattel) design flaw and not because of a (Chinese) manufacturing problem. Several media outlets interpreted this move as Mattel’s attempt to protect its own fortunes, with ABC saying that the company was trying to patch up its relationship with a country that “makes most of its toys and fattens its profit” and the Washington Post pointing out that the toymaker “receives 65 percent of its toys from China and has made significant financial investments in the Asian country.” These reports prompted Mattel to react with a formal statement defending the apology and attempting to point out that it was very similar, if not the same, to the apologies that the company had offered in several other markets. Ugh.

So I went to mattel.com fully expecting the entire home page to be taken over by the company’s messaging and statements of caring and action about this situation. I assumed I would see perhaps one-click access to a moment-by-moment updated list of recalled toys, a video statement from the Chairman, further explanation of the company’s apology to the Chinese, an invitation to call a 24/7-manned 800# hotline for further information and messages to key stakeholders such as parents and stockholders. Maybe a corporate blog. I can’t overestimate how much I just assumed about what’d I’d find at their site. When I stopped for a moment to think about why, I realized, actually, that I had such positive feelings/memories about the company that I just figured they’d “do the right thing”:  Mattel itself is the entity that creating such high expectation on my part.

Here is a snapshot of Mattel’s home page as of Monday, September 24 at:

stephanie_fierman_mattel-home-page.jpg

The main section of the well is unchanged (“The World’s Premier Toy Brands Today and Tomorrow”). Two smaller call-outs link to a recall list last updated September 4, nearly three weeks ago, and the only statement from the Chairman accessible from the home page is Mr. Eckert’s Wall Street Journal editorial dated September 11, more than two weeks ago. In what I consider to be a particularly painful irony, the third of the three call-outs notes that Mattel has been named one of the 100 best corporate citizens of 2007 by Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine.

The first item in a “Mattel in the News” section (IS there any other news?) refers to a new Barbie full-length DVD musical and kick-off event. [NOTE: as an aside, it is possible that Mattel is inadvertently damaging the potential of this new product by having it on the home page at a time when visitors are least likely to want to be receptive to Mattel marketing messages.

There’s no landing page solely devoted to what’s happening and what people care about right now.  Even the information in the site isn’t completely updated.  Forget about the video blogs I’d have all over the web updated multiple times/day, the street teams I might consider fanning out all over the US to talk to real citizens, the use of Youtube to get your position out – in other words, the extensive list of PR options Mattel management deserves and should have in front of them at this moment…  They’re not even using the most valuable piece of real estate in the universe right now, mattel.com, to take charge.

Having made these decisions before, I do not underestimate their difficulty, or the pain this has caused Mattel.  And being an honorable company may just make it worse.  You assume that the public sees and understands much more than they do:  that they will rationally assess an incident in the context of your track record of excellence.
 
If this was ever true, the Internet has forever changed the picture.


It’s not about truth on the Web:  it’s about sensationalism.  The Google algorithm actually rewards popularity – the bigger the fire, the better.   So where companies may have believed that the high road meant staying silent, sticking to their knitting and just fixing the problem… that is no longer an option.

Whoever steps into the void is the party that will be heard, so a premier company like Mattel needs to re-program itself to understand that the “high road” now means delivering authentic 24-hour information online – in good times and bad. 

Manage the story, Mattel: don’t let the story manage you.

Have you heard of a fellow named Tommy Habeeb? Mr. Habeeb has created a new product called the BabySport Water Bottle Nipple Adaptor, a little plastic nipple gizmo that screws on to the top of a regular water bottle so that a baby can drink it. It’s summer, it’s hot, these things are selling like hotcakes and everyone’s happy.

I thought of this guy when I saw MSNBC’s report this week on Starbucks’ plans to develop products specifically intended for the kids who frequent the company’s stores. My only thought was, “Genius, as usual.” But MSNBC’s spin would have made a viewer think that the evil Starbucks intended to use Habeeb’s invention to nurse infants with 670-calorie coffee drinks* – and more than once a day. Actually, the kid in this picture does seem to be struggling with the adult lid a bit… I’m kidding, I’m kidding!

stephanie_fierman_kid-at-starbucks.jpg

MSNBC leveraged Starbucks’ announcement to write the company into the fast-food child obesity epidemic trend story that has garnered so much attention in the last couple years. I think that’s over the top. Granted, this is not an altruistic move by Starbucks, but then again no one’s ever claimed that Starbucks is a not-for-profit. While active in many social areas, the company sees a new opportunity and it’s going to pursue it. Likewise, these corporate baristas are savvy enough to assume that perhaps it was just a matter of time before the food police would turn their attention to after-school frappuccinos with whipped cream, so the company proactively moved to position itself in a more positive light. They make more money, we think of them as offering healthy (healthier?) choices, everybody wins.

*Yawn*

It’s far more compelling to package this non-event as Motley Fool has, sounding the alarm by warning that “heavy-handed marketing to kids can open up an ugly can of worms” with the example of what happened to Reynolds Tobacco when it got caught promoting Camel cigarettes to children. Comparing Starbucks (with hot chocolate, juices, waters, etc. already available) to cigarettes? For Starbucks’ marketers and product folks, talk about “no good deed goes unpunished…”

I’ll end with some of MSNBC’s own viewers’ representative comments on the network’s website. They are hilarious and spot-on (I’ve edited for length and grammar):
mel-wags22: My boys will often get up early on a Saturday morning and we’ll go, get drinks and spend an hour just sitting in the store talking about our week. It’s good family time. If some moron wants to feed their 4 year old, double shot lattes, that’s their problem! 3Under3: As an occasional part of the late-morning stay-at-home-mom rush, I don’t have a problem with the basic kids’ drink menu of steamed milk, hot chocolate or steamed cider, and the bottled drinks, like the organic milk are good… A child who is getting a good diet at home, should be able to handle a treat sometimes without risking obesity. sweetshoppelover: This has become another non-issue perpetrated by the food police. Who are these people? My age group remembers going to the neighborhood candy store, by ourselves, to get malted milks or ice cream sodas. As for over-caffeinated teens – as I remember, that was one of the safer dumb things to do as a teenager!GreginTexas: We all know that the next step, if we allow children to overrun Starbucks, is kids in strip clubs and kids at adult book stores and kids buying alcoholic beverages at 7-11 for their kindergarten class pre-nap breaks. WHEN does this insanity end?
Agree, disagree? How much responsibility does a marketer like Starbucks – who certainly began by selling an adult drink to adult customers – have for protecting kids, beyond what they are doing today? Let me know what you think.

* Note: A vente-sized, double chocolate chip blended crème frappuccino with whipped cream contains 670 calories, including 200 fat calories and 12g of saturated fat. I picked it for effect as the wackiest gut-buster on Starbucks’ website I could find.

stephanie_fierman_angelina_jolie1.jpg

Caption: Sharing a love for upscale accessories, mega-mom Angelina Jolie and daughter Zahara, 2, step out in matching mommy-and-me Valentino “Histoire” handbags during a trip to a New York City park. [PEOPLE MAGAZINE]

Naturally, because my first post on my first blog was about Neil Howe’s and William Strauss’ predictions of kids in the future returning to a more wholesome, positive-values, altruistic place in the world, I’ve found nothing but amusing individual cases to the contrary ever since.

And while I suppose that no one would expect celebrity kids to fit into this trend necessarily, starting with those who are literally pre-verbal is over the top. For most.