CNN Senior Executive Producer
Forty-seven days before I turn 50, I must interrupt my mission to destroy my industry's worship of the 18-49 audience demo, to bring you urgent health news. Today, we're all part of the same demo. The Halloween demo. And there's valuable advice to spread on how to proceed during this first H1N1 Halloween.
The advice comes from my CNN colleague, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth is not a germophobe. She's always struck me as fairly laid back about these matters. Which is why she caught my attention on CNN's Campbell Brown last night with this very graphic advice:
"No grubby little paws in the bucket this Halloween. I'm handing out candy with gloves, and offering sanitizer squirts."
I hope, on this first H1N1 Halloween, that the Elizabeth Cohen method becomes, as they say on the web, viral. You can spread this link and retweet Elizabeth's message here
Elizabeth's advice certainly led my wife and me to start coaching our young children this morning not to eat their holiday candy until they wash their hands. Actually, my analytical wife observed, that's not good enough. What about the germs on all the wrappers they touch. It's gonna be a hard night of enforcement.
I just realized something. This is not just a health story. It fits right into what I consider the myth of the 18-49 demo.
The Under Armour shopping spree I described here yesterday may not be typical of my age, but it's not all that bizarre either.
And the fact that I'm about to turn 50 and have three trick-or-treating age children is also more common now than it was back in the day when 18-49 was first declared the golden audience target.
As I learned from Turner's audience research chief Jack Wakshlag, it's been about four decades since 18-49 became king. I had our 23-year-old editorial researcher Catherine Fowler do a little checking of her own. The census bureau did not break down the age of parents back in 1970 or 1980. But in the 1990s – more than 40 percent of households with parents 45 – 54 years had children under 18. We're still digging to see if there's a breakdown for the 13 and under prime trick-or-treaters.
We on-the-verge-of-50-year-olds only have to think back to our childhoods to know that when we were children, there weren't as many 45-54 year-olds who had young kids.
I hope this aging Halloween demo helps erode the ground beneath the 18-49 worshipers. But will those of us on the verge of being kicked out of the 18-49-year-old demo be able to surmount the hard facts thrown at my face by the head of Turner Broadcasting's audience research.
Come back to this space Monday to find out.
In the meantime, as Elizabeth Cohen advises, keep those grubby little paws out of the candy bowl.
Filed under: Michael Schulder
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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