Meet the scuppie: hippie, yuppie, rich and righteous
“The whole feel of it is, you know, to let people know that scuppies are not prepared to chain themselves to redwood trees. That’s not what a scuppie’s going to do. You’re not going to find a scuppie out on the high seas buzzing down an oil tanker in a Zodiac inflatable boat. That’s not going to happen.”
So let’s just say that you’ve come up with a catchy sociological-cultural label that you figure should be part of the lexicon. In the case of Chuck Failla, a financial adviser in Stamford, Conn., the label in question is scuppie, or Socially Conscious Upwardly-mobile Person. (Noun. Plural: scuppies.)
Recently the term was given credence when it was heard tumbling from the lips of an advertising executive in Toronto. “It’s really been catching on,” Mr. Failla says eagerly, pointing out that it has cropped up on media outlets in the United States, from CBS to USA Today, and it was Mr. Failla himself who lit the modest media brush fire by issuing a press release on Earth Day.
The way Mr. Failla sees it, every generation, at least in recent memory, has featured what he calls a “ppie” acronym, as in hippie, yippie, preppie (or preppy), and yuppie.
“We’re the green generation and up until this point we didn’t have a ‘ppie’ acronym,” says Mr. Failla, who has keenly grabbed ownership of what he hopes will be a trend-setting term through his website, scuppie.com.
With that comes not money, but possibly, fame, though Mr. Failla is quite wrong when he credits U.S. columnist Bob Greene with coining the term “yuppie.”
Even Mr. Greene disavowed ownership, which can rightly be credited to California writer Alice Kahn.
So who are these people?
“The fact is people want to consume a lot more green products but they don’t want to sacrifice things, right?” Mr. Failla asks.
Take Mr. Failla as an example. “I live in a nice neighbourhood. I have a nice house,” he says. (He estimates his company’s money management assets under administration at slightly more than $50-million U.S. “A half million is what we’re looking for,” he says of his clients’ net worth.)
“I have a Rolex,” he continues. He drives a Pathfinder SUV and a 1991 Audi. “We’re not going to deny ourselves stuff that we want,” he says of his scuppie brethren. “But if there are choices I can make that will fit in with my lifestyle I will try to make those greener choices.” Here he cites his preference for organic foods as well as house cleaning and lawn care services that use only non-toxic products.
The full-kit scuppie will be carefully detailed in Mr. Failla’s upcoming The Scuppie Handbook: A Practical Guide to Living Well While Doing Good. He hopes to identify a publisher soon. “It’s going to be humorous. It’s going to be self-deprecating,” he says. “There’s a conflict inherent in what a scuppie is. To be socially conscious and upwardly mobile. To be environmentally responsible but like nice things. There’s a conflict there.” (The scuppie mom carries a purse that was once the inner tube of a ’74 Volkswagen bug. A scuppie credit card donates a percentage to a tropical rain forest fund. And so on.)
Will the term catch on with marketers and advertisers? Mr. Failla believes so, although he actually came up with the buzzword in 1991 and failed to get any traction for it then. “I think people of the world are ready for the next one,” he says of this latest “ppie” pitch.
Might it be the world today is resistant to such identifiers? “Nope,” he says. “History tells me that people love labels.”