03 October 2005

Invoking "The Sixties": Fidelity Financial vs. Ameriprise

Two major financial planning companies, Fidelity Investments and Ameriprise, are all agog over Baby Boomers.

Colleague Brent Green dissects Fidelity's recent spot, and overall I agree with him (it's good).

By comparison, Ameriprise's campaign slinks around and takes the low road — invoking 'The Sixties' for no reason other than to unctuously 'brand' their service.

The two spots I've seen open up with a montage (make that a sloppy collage) of standard-issue 'Love-In' stock footage and clips of home movies. There may be some recently shot computer-played-with video mixed into the mess. At some point, a bunch of kids pop out of a VW Bus — and magically morph into fiftysomethings.

Or something. Quite honestly, the spots made me so queasy that I rolled my eyes and turned away.

The through-line for both is something like "Back then you probably weren't thinking much about your financial security."

…… No, we weren't.

This is about as insulting as it gets. Invoking 'The Sixties' for a financial service is plainly absurd. Among other things, it perpetuates the false myth that Baby Boomers want to be teenagers again (or have never wanted to be anything else). And it demeans all that The Sixties represents.

As Brent Green points out, the Fidelity spot takes us through the whole life of an individual. I know it's hard to believe, but we were also alive in the late 70s, 80s, 90s - and will be contributing and helping to shape the next three or four decades.

Ameriprise seems to have no idea what 'The Sixties' meant to any of us - and they proceed to trash it. For some it was purely political. For others, simply fun. For still others, it was a philosophical and/or spiritual awakening. Others found their artistic and creative centers.

But there were millions who found the whole decade horrifying. They shied away from it, had more conservative (or at least quieter) values.

And, I'm guessing, most found it to be a combination of all the above - along with a slew of other qualities too numerous to mention. To somehow reduce it all to climbing out of a time-machine Volkswagen Bus and smiling idiotically…

What if you were targeting the WWII generation for financial services? How would this spot play?: "You survived the Great Depression, danced the jitterbug, fought in trenches and on battleships while watching your buddies being blown up and killed, worked 12-hour shifts as Rosie the Riveter. Back then you probably weren't thinking much about your financial security."

No, they weren't.

How about targeting African-American Baby Boomers? "You were hosed and beaten by police, marched with Martin Luther King, flirted with the philosophies of Malcolm X, danced funky to James Brown and proclaimed yourselves Black and Proud. Back then you probably weren't thinking much about your financial security."

… No, I bet they weren't.

Companies have to think twice (and advertising agencies, three or four times) about gratuitously invoking The Sixties when targeting Baby Boomers. Fidelity Investments gets it right, Ameriprise doesn't.

Related Posts:

Ameriprise vs. Fidelity Financial Redux 4.07.2006

More In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 4.11.2006

UPDATE: January 3, 2006: I'm getting tired of picking on the Ameriprise campaign - but advertising/marketing and general 'this is my life' blogger Megan isn't.

Read her post, then the comment of hers after mine - about a chat with her father. It says it all:
Tonight I alerted my dad of this upcoming commercial (he was born in '53) and he sighed with exasperation.