06 January 2016

Brain Games: Hocus-Pocus Hyperbole

Looks like a not-so-bright company hawking a make-me-bright online game is in non-virtual hot water:

Lumosity fined millions for making false claims about brain health benefits
image…The shine has come off Lumosity with an announcement by federal investigators that the makers must pay $2m to settle a charge that it made fraudulent claims and “preyed on consumers’ fears”.

Although lucky for them, a big chunk of the penalty is virtual:

…The company has also been handed a $50m penalty for harming consumers – but the fine is suspended because the company cannot afford to pay it, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)…

[crystal_ball_2.jpg]Nostrachuckus warned of a backlash. Links to three long-ago posts:

02 March 2009
The Brain Games Game

08 December 2009
Your Brain on Games

21 April 2010
Your Brain On Games Redux

Random snippets from the posts above:

…And that’s what bothered me about the marketing – and still does.  Are these new-fangled blinking lights on a screen the best way, the only way to keep your noggin nimble?  This seems to be the claim.  Or are they a new breed in a long line of cognitive games that go back to counting pebbles on a cave floor?

…You certainly get the ‘hard-sell’ impression that if you don’t buy and play these games, eventually your brain will leak out of your nose and ears.  Why not just tell the truth?  These are high-tech, stimulating computer-generated exercises that will help keep your mind sharp - are structured, measurable to some degree (so they’re useful for medical research), and quite entertaining.

…What’s the story with advertising and Brain Games? Because of clumsy tactics, most advertising/marketing/PR is still doing more harm than good.

…Obviously I’m not qualified to comment on whether these digital gizmos revivify your rotting noggin.  However, for years I’ve questioned why the hype was so thick.  Did it have to be?

… My advice has always been to take the high road with the 50+ Market.  They’ve been around long enough to recognize most B.S. – and when they feel they’ve been fooled, say goodbye to them.

More:

FTC: ‘Brain training’ brand Lumosity didn’t have the research to back up its claims (Washington Post)

Lumosity to settle deceptive ‘brain training’ health claims (STAT)

29 December 2015

Recap 2015: Advertising to Baby Boomers

We began the year with Yours Truly apologizing for my myopic take on Facebook, followed by much crowing about my prescient take on Facebook:

What I didn’t foresee is Facebook becoming the generic virtual space for keeping up with friends from high school, college, work through the decades, etc.  These aren’t friends you necessarily hang out with now – and Facebook was originally a ‘here and now’ place for college kids.  How it’s transformed.

Then we whitewashed a few fences:

I wonder what’s next. Old hippies painting psychedelic dollar signs on a picket fence? Aunt Polly as the new spokesperson? One of those snazzy computerized commercials where they futz with old footage, maybe Tommy Lee Jones as Tom Sawyer and Dennis Hopper as Huckleberry Finn jawing about financial planning?

From April:

Chasing the grey yen
Japanese firms have wisdom to hand down about selling to the elderly

Coming in 2016:

Advertising in the Aging Society
imagePopulation aging is a powerful megatrend affecting many countries around the world. This demographic shift has vast effects on societies, economies and businesses, and thus also for the advertising industry.
By Michael Prieler and Florian Kohlbacher
Forward By Dave McCaughan
Afterword by Chuck Nyren
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Download the Contents and First Chapter

Summer reading:

The Ugly, The Bad and The Good
Twitter, Smartphones & Tablets, and Silver Super Models


imageChuck bleats on MarketPlace: A new older generation may attract more ad dollars. Listen.
 
Traipsing every which way:

Mobile Ads, Smartphones, Mad Men, and Muggles

The most popular post of the year:

Baby Boomers Not Wearing Wearables
Along with Google Glass, you'll also be wearing Google Nose and Google Mouth.

____

I also blog at Huffington Post. Not about advertising,  mostly goofy slices-of-life. The most popular piece this year:

In a Hospital for No Good Reason
image… I keep seeing the word unremarkable. I figure out it's med-speak for normal. At age 64, after abusing my mind and body in every way imaginable throughout my life, I'd say that anything normal is remarkable…

No doubt more fun and frolic in the New Year.

10 December 2015

The AMA, Those Pharma Ads, and My Thinking Cap

Only a handful of posts ago I had fun poking fun at all those DTC ads:

25 June 2015
Looking great, but we’re very ill.
http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-om_VzOrj3bE/VYxZtfjgMOI/AAAAAAAAIHQ/ptrtQLaVWdQ/fish2_thumb%25255B5%25255D.jpg?imgmax=800… Most of the time we’re in slow motion.  We float around the screen, dreamlike, as if drifting in a digitized aquarium.

But we look pretty good, usually. Although during all this surreal sashaying, the voice overs warn us not all is well.

Now the AMA wants to ban them:

Turn the Volume Down on Drug Ads
image… The American Medical Association’s House of Delegates voted this month in favor of a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices. Its officers argued that such advertising “inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate…

Not everybody agrees:

Banning TV Drug Ads: Could the Cure Cause More Harm Than Good?
image… In a response to the AMA call for a ban, it said the ads increase consumer awareness of available treatments for diseases, including undiagnosed conditions, according to a Reuters report.

imageI’m not qualified to take a position on all this.  However, if I hadn’t read these news items, and someone said to me, “So, Chuck … the AMA wants to ban DTC ads.  Can you guess why?” -- I’d probably put on my thinking cap and say:

Grampy2“Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm.  Well, the AMA usually wants to ban things because it thinks whatever is unhealthy for you. So my guess is that it thinks pharma ads are unhealthy for you! Maybe they got the idea from some of my  posts about how DTC ads make people ill – like this post from 2009…

If every time someone over fifty sees a commercial targeting them and it’s always for an age-related product or service, pretty soon their eyes will glaze over, they’ll get itchy and grumpy….

So did I influence the AMA?  Or am I hallucinating – like the lady in this DTC ad?

You decide.

16 November 2015

The Déjà Vu No New News

It’s always a treat to get up, make some coffee, open the newspaper (pixels or pulp) and read nothing new.

Even that shticky opening sentence is nothing new.

For some reason, the last month or so has been jam-packed with no news news:

http://beta.images.theglobeandmail.com/media/www/images/flag/gam-masthead.png
Older people have the spending power. So why are ads obsessed with youth?

CVRCompIf you want the answer nine years before this question was asked, download (for free) the Introduction and 1st Chapter of Advertising to Baby Boomers ©2005/2007:

Introduction and 1st Chapter

More from that Globe and Mail piece:

… The rationale for focusing on younger people used to be that advertisers who could win them over would gain a consumer for life. But research has shown that brand loyalty is fading, meaning this approach may not make sense any more.

Brand loyalty almost always fades, and hasn’t made sense for decades. Read a review of Advertising to Baby Boomers in The Journal of Consumer Marketing.

imageThe Average Age Of A Creative Is 28, While The Average New Car Buyer Is 56 - That's A Problem

It’s been a problem for years and years:

Hire Baby Boomer Creatives
NostraChuckus predicts the future. Again. It was 2003 when he first divined it…

Automobile ads written by … but targeting…:

Non-Diversity = Solipsism
… Someone commented on my comment:

You nailed it Chuck! My reaction (albeit with an agency skew) is that these spots are targeting BOOMERS, but written by 20-somethings? … Young creatives (are there really any other kind?) can't write to BOOMERS…so they write to please themselves. As a BOOMER many of us see right through this common occurrence.

Here’s a news story that is impossible to cherry-pick.  Every cherry has been plucked, packaged, and offered as sustenance by Yours Truly and others for over a decade:

Baby Boomers Are Noticing How You're (Not) Speaking to Them

I’ll snatch one piece of wrinkled fruit, just for fun:

…. One of the biggest reasons for this is marketers are beginning to close the book on this generation by relying on outdated stereotypes to inform decisions and craft messages that ultimately don’t hit the mark. It takes more than a Rolling Stones song on a 30 second TV commercial. Half of Baby Boomers (47%) told us in this same survey that companies are using inaccurate stereotypes in advertising about people their age.

A few moldy posts:

03 October 2005
Invoking "The Sixties": Fidelity Financial vs. Ameriprise

19 February 2007
Food fights, Balloons and Dancing Gorillas

19 December 2010
Why does the media think Boomers are smiling, vapid idiots?

And if you’re desperate to hear me bloviate about it all, check out highlights from a European Tour in 2007:

Recently I penned an Afterword for an international marketing/advertising tome due out in early 2016.
A pull:

I wasn’t the first to suggest a necessary shift away from the 18-35 demographic. In 1990, two books were released, Age Wave by Ken Dychtwald  and Serving the Ageless Market: Strategies for Selling to the Fifty-Plus Market by David B. Wolfe.  Many others followed, including The Definitive Guide to Mature Advertising and Marketing by Kevin Lavery  (U.K) and Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers by Brent Green.

What bewilders me about all these brand-new news articles: the  disregard of historical perspective along with the absence of acknowledgements due the original thinkers and doers. It’s not difficult to research almost anything nowadays.  A simple googling of  ‘advertising & baby boomers’ would return over a million hits.

And as a journalist it would keep you from embarrassing yourself.

15 October 2015

Baby Boomers Not Wearing Wearables

imageAh! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
- The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere

While we’re not sailing around slaying metaphors, we are doing something almost as unforgivable: we’re getting old. What a curse.

And apparently we’re all supposed to strap on high-tech wearables as penance…

Laurie_OrlovBut we’re not. This (the not wearing part, not the penance part) according to Our Lady of The Boomer Health Tech Watch, Laurie Orlov. 

I’ve been featuring Ms. Orlov’s well-researched musings for many years. Now check out her brand-new overview of all things medical, cybernated and wearable:

Baby Steps: Will Boomers Buy Into Mobile Health?
… A prime target market is the baby boomer generation because of its massive size and the looming health costs it represents.

But the boomer response has been disappointing so far. This issue brief by health tech industry analyst Laurie Orlov looks at the fit between existing products and senior consumers' needs … Orlov points out specific mismatches between what inventors want to accomplish and what boomers are likely to buy and use.

Be smart and download Ms. Orlov’s report, courtesy of The California HealthCare Foundation.

Of course, yours truly has his opinions on these grandiose gizmos. In fact, I predicted major trouble marketing them way back in 2009. But for fun let me send you to The Huffington Post:

Never Leave The Hospital! Health Tech Wearables, Implanted Chips
By Chuck Nyren
huffington_post_logo1I'm having issues. I'm worried that the medical industry might want me to worry too much about my health. A little worry is good. But constant worry? It seems as if they want me to think of nothing else but my vital signs for the rest of my life.

Finally Live The Life You've Always Wanted With Wearables!
By Chuck Nyren
… Along with Google Glasses, you'll also be wearing Google Nose and Google Mouth.

My guess is that we’re a decade away from wearables we might want to wear. Even then we might not want to wear them.