For one it is an ancient record cast in stone, for the other it is a much more recent record cast in the cultural media of our time . . . film, TV, music, or advertising. And as both paleontologists and marketers know, explosive growth is cyclical, and only happens when environmental conditions are right.
Sean B. Carroll in a piece today in the NY Times discusses the Ediacaran Period, from 635 to 542 million years ago, a newly labeled period of somewhat more subdued growth just before the Cambrian Explosion, roughly 542 to 490 million years ago, long known for its abundant growth in life forms.
My reading of the article suggests that these two periods have a lot in common with the mid 20th century, just before and just after World War II.
The period just before the war, and the 1930s great depression, has been thought by many as being somewhat devoid of new life forms, from a brand perspective. Not even close to approaching the explosive growth of the post-war period. However, with events like the end of Prohibition, and the related growth in alcoholic beverage brands, or the introduction of the LP record and the growth of the record industry, we are only now beginning to recognize it as a time of important growth in certain areas of brand design.
This apparently is somewhat like the comparison made by paleontologists to the Cambrian, with its dramatic growth and the period that preceded it, the Ediacaran Period, which now appears to be more productive than first thought.
Along came the Cambrian Period, with its explosion of species, which flourished because of a confluence of positive environmental changes for the origin of life. Just as the number of consumer product brands exploded in the 1950s. When brands like Marlboro, Minute Rice and Mr. Clean were fed and supported by the growth in mass media, TV, the interstate highway system, suburbia, family formation, the modern kitchen, and other cultural experiences unique to the time period.
Paleontologists and marketers have more in common than they may think. Species and brands seem to both go through cyclical periods of growth and success.