2015: the new ’90s?


Salt-N-Pepa are pushin' Geico. They're pushin' Geico real good.
Salt-N-Pepa are pushin’ Geico. They’re pushin’ Geico real good.

Welcome to the Internet of 2015. Which, according to this recent post from The Verge, looks a lot like the Internet of the 1990s.

Writes Verge’s Nilay Patel (@reckless):

2015 will be defined by the Revenge of ’90s Internet: media and tech giants flirting with each other, dominant players throwing their weight around, and portals, portals everywhere.

Google is the new Microsoft, Patel writes. Facebook is the new AOL (“pitching itself to media companies as their savior, just as AOL once did”). Buzzfeed is the new Yahoo, and Apple is the new Sony (which was “a hardware juggernaut in the ’90s,” as Apple has become).

It’s an interesting read, even if Patel did overlook some of my favorite 1990s Internet services with his “_____ is the new ______” analysis. (What’s the new Netscape, for example? What about Prodigy, AIM or Usenet?) It’s also a cautionary tale, as Patel notes that the ’90s were “a decade of excess and mistakes and excessive mistakes” which led to the dot-com crash of the early 2000s, “the memories of which continue to shape the industry today.”

Let’s hope we learn from the mistakes and excesses of the ’90s — not only in the tech world but also in marketing.

Remember all those AOL CDs that landed in our mailboxes? Each week, it seemed, the number of free hours offered kept climbing in a sort of hyperinflation that rendered the service as worthless to consumers, except as miniature Frisbees and drink coasters.


What can we in the higher ed marketing realm learn from the ’90s?

Unfortunately, in some ways, our marketing practices haven’t changed much since the days of Salt-N-Pepa, who are now shilling for Geico in a TV ad practically everyone on the planet has seen by now. So we have no “retro” to fall back upon.

In many ways, we continue to operate like the AOL of the 1990s. So if 2015 truly is the new 1990s, we’re ready.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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