Your lifelong dream of being my favorite reader is in jeopardy unless you were the amazing human who mailed me this:


Most weeks, this email flows easily. Others, it’s a grind. And every week it gets a little more stressful, as the readership grows and I have to fret about the impression I’m making on first-timers. Then, there are the unsubscribers, who really get in my head. Was it something I said?

But a care package like that one makes the effort more than worth it.

On a logistical note, let me know if you’re doing AdWeek or the ANA in Orlando over the next few weeks. I also have trips to Palo Alto, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago, and Minneapolis on deck. I’d love to put more faces to your email addresses.

If you’re on the client-side, we should talk about how to finally modernize your sleepy, slow, and myopic research capabilities. Get with it. It’s about to be 2020.

Let that sink in for a minute. 2020.

That’s two decades since Y2K, when we thought the entire world was going to crash. Twenty years since recounts and hanging chads. I was just starting my first company.

It feels like a minute ago, sort of.

Yes, 9/11 changed everything. And Facebook and Amazon and Netflix. And LaCroix. Seriously, who was drinking cans of seltzer in 2000? Nobody. Now you can get seltzer with booze in it. Unless it’s sold out. Crazy times.

Things do seem darker now. More divisive. Politics are repugnant. Every time the New England Patriots win or acquire a corrupt player through clearly corrupt means, evil triumphs.

Or does it? Sixty percent of Americans describe themselves as “happy” today, versus just 6% who are unhappy. That’s the highest ratio we’ve seen in eight years of tracking it. Seventy-eight percent of people are happy in their current job, compared to 22% who aren’t – again, a high watermark.

They say, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ Which means media companies are incentivized to narrate the absolute worst and nastiest of us – the crime, the violence, the politics, Bill Belichick.

But don’t let it bring you down. Be happy, if you’re happy. Don’t mute it.

Because somebody out there might be writing you a thoughtful note and sending you a coffee mug you’ll keep on your desk forever.

Thanks E.B. Lots of love.

Here’s what were seeing this week:

If you need more evidence that Gen Z is the Gen X doppelganger, look at the trends in makeup. As the primary grocery-buyer in our house, I’m traversing completely uncharted store aisles as my daughters move into teen-dom. I’m clueless. However, one thing I haven’t had to buy is makeup. And that could have a lot to do with the fact that Gen Z isn’t wearing it. Makeup frequency is declining across age groups, but especially among the U24 crowd, where the number of women saying they never wear makeup has more than doubled in four years. Maybe were entering a new era of grunge. Vans are certainly hot again. Go ahead and invest in those flannel futures.

Oh, and Gen Z’s also driving the JUUL trend, presumably while listening to Blind Melon and the Smashing Pumpkins, I guess. E-cigarettes are all over the media because apparently people were surprised to learn they’re not good for you. Shocker. In the meantime, it’s clear that JUUL is all the rage with the kids nowadays. Gen Z has reported JUUL-vaping at a rate over double the next largest age cohort. And, in breaking news, a big majority of people believe flavored vapes should be banned – giving credence to the FLOTUS’s latest soapbox issue.

Meanwhile, a clear majority of Americans don’t think kids should be on social media before they’re 16. I’m an outlier on this one. I trust my kids. But apparently other people don’t. The numbers are more generous when it comes to smartphone ownership – 29% say it’s even okay at 12 or under. People are much more cynical about social media, however. That is, of course, unless you’re a teen – 82% of whom think it’s reasonable for anyone under 16. In related news, 96% of 18-year-olds think the drinking age should be lowered to 18 (okay, I made that up).

Speaking of social media, Facebook launched a new dating service and it seems to be striking a chord with the LGBTQ crowd.  I don’t need to add much commentary; you’re welcome to read the study yourself. But LGBTQ Americans are more than four times more likely than their heterosexual/straight counterparts to have an interest in Facebook’s dating app. Marketers, take note.

And, speaking of smartphones, we could be entering a huge inflection point in the world of upgrades and financing. One of the biggest things driving Apple’s dominance in the smartphone category is the penchant of its loyalists to upgrade their devices at a rate far more frequently than Samsung users or others. While most people only upgrade their smartphone every three years or so, iPhone users function on a different cadence – driven largely by their higher-than-average income and spending capacity. It will be fascinating to see if those dynamics change, however, as more and more alternative financing options enter the electronics category. Expect us to study the hell out of that in the coming months.

Wendy’s may actually succeed at breakfast this time. Yeah, we saw this show before in the ‘80s but there’s a reason to be optimistic that Wendy’s can get breakfast right 30 years later. They’re obviously making a massive investment in it, so it’s hard for us to predict the financial outcome. But our data certainly shows an impressive level of consumer curiosity for the offering. A respectable 36% of U.S adults say they’re at least somewhat likely to try Wendy’s breakfast and 13% say they will go to Wendy’s more (i.e., increased visits) as a result. If those numbers play out, it could be a winner.

And here are your most popular questions of the week:

Hoping you’re well.