In the mid-1970s, about 60,000 US baby girls were named Jennifer each year – a staggering 4% of all girls. Parents flocked to the name for good reason – it was fresh, sophisticated-sounding, and (since it was nearly unheard-of just 20 years before), was seen as unique. But over time, the name Jennifer became a victim of its own ubiquity, its freshness diluted by overuse. Just a few decades later, the number of babies named Jennifer had diminished by 90 percent and was falling fast.
During the same period, an equally staggering 4% of US new car sales were Oldsmobile Cutlasses. Consumers flocked to the car for good reason – it was fresh, sophisticated-looking, and (with a new, formal design), was seen as unique. But over time, the Oldsmobile brand became a victim of its own ubiquity, its appeal diluted by mismanagement. Just a few decades later, Oldsmobile had rolled out its last car.
Is this a coincidence? Yes, of course… but it’s an interesting coincidence. Both are reflections of people’s choices and aspirations in 1970s, and if this white Cutlass needed a name, I’d call it Jennifer.
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