The night started out like so many others in the Tuscan hills just west of Siena. Another forgotten, medieval hill town competing for attention against its bigger, more quintessential neighbors. A town rich in history and poor in top of mind awareness. The victim of so many competing for attention.
The food and restaurant, exceptional. The alleys, streets and piazzas, charming. The conversation, deep and important with a cadence not so far away from the evenly, never-rushed pace of an expertly delivered and exceptionally tasting Italian dinner.
After hours of savoring the flavors, we headed off for our passeggiata – that ever-so-Italian tradition of leisurely walking off calories just consumed. More conversation. More alleys. More beautiful vistas under the night sky.
The bocce game became evident before we ever saw the players and the bystanders.
There, tucked below the street nestled in a small park was the sunken court. Well lit. Plenty of fan seating and adoring, well dressed ladies with their feet up enjoying the banter. The gentleman assembled to play their gioco. Teasing, taunting and cajoling voices filled the air in an Italian dialect I couldn’t understand. We could assume their intent, but we focused on the spectacle instead.
But what struck me was my millennial children and those of our Italian friends. The elusive generations Y and Z. Typically living in nanoseconds from device to device they sat transfixed. Distracted from their usual “chat” and “like” and “share” and, instead, mesmerized. For those fifteen or twenty minutes we sat there watching. They could not be distracted. They could not find justification to check that tweet, scroll through that post, accept that friend request. They sat intently watching a game the Romans played almost 300 years before Christ. 264 B.C. to be exact.
That all is not lost. That fascination is the key.
We live in a world of swipes and device distractions. We live in a world where people are becoming experts in ignoring, deleting and disregarding. Where conversations are had from device to device – while sitting in the same room. Technology is propelling us at an exhilarating pace and opening us up to more and more and more.
But, yet, even the millennial can be seduced to stop. To ponder in the moment. Even if that moment harkens back thousands of years. To be fascinated.
As marketers we’re constantly challenged to crack the millennial conundrum. “What will motivate them?” “How do we get more of them?”
Maybe we need to stop and think about that bocce game. It didn’t take much. It wasn’t technology-rich. It wasn’t driven by a pop culture icon seeking attention. No Snap streak to be maintained.
It was human. It was real, authentic and meaningful.
Are we forgetting how to fascinate humans?