09 December 2005

Boomer Nostalgia

Columnist Bob Baird of The Journal News made me chuckle more than a few times with his takes on Boomer Nostalgia:
…I started asking myself, "Wasn't '12 Angry Men' dramatic enough?" Forty years after the 1957 classic with Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and all the rest, did we really need a new version with Tony Danza?….. You hear The Who's "Happy Jack" followed by "I Can See for Miles." It sounds like a commercial for "The Who's Greatest Hits," but it's Hummer and a headlight manufacturer hawking their products......if this keeps up, maybe there's a "Who's Greatest Commercial Hits" down the road...

I have mixed feelings about this. The Who, Stones - do they really need the dough? If I hear Richie Havens or Etta James crooning behind commercials, fine. They're not billionaires. Let them roll up some royalties. I'm all for it.

But Sir Paul? If he's down and out he can come over to my place any time for free grub and a shower. And I'll give him a couple of bucks to autograph my half-melted and warped "Ticket to Ride" single I have stashed somewhere (even though he didn't sing lead on it). The record wouldn't play anyhow even if I had a turntable and one of those curly, plastic round thingies - so it's not good for much else except to scribble on.

But the real questions are these: Do advertisers benefit from invoking the past willy-nilly? When those tunes come on, am I really paying attention? Or do they send me off into the ether, conjuring up all sorts of bizarre and moldy feelings, images, remembrances?

By the time I float back, the spot is over.

Donovan's been hawking something lately, I'm not sure what. I'll do my best the next time to pay attention and not "catch the wind."


  1. Chuck:

    Here's one answer to your rhetorical question "do advertisers benefit?"

    In our national research we asked a question about nostalgia -- in an attempt to identify the decade in which older boomers best related to and the one younger boomers best related to.

    What we learned was something altogether different: More than a third of boomer are looking forward, not backward. They haven't reached their personal peak and they are still marching up the hill. Looking back is something they don't particularly want to do.

    Knowing this, it makes you wonder about AmeriPrise Financial's new campaign harking back to the good, old, carefree, stupid days of our youth. Why take such an approach if you know over a third of your audience is turned off by it?

    I guess they have money to burn. Our money.

  2. My spiel on Ameriprise is here:


    As Brent Green says, "Naïve executives too often rely on hackneyed images of Boomers, while trotting out pedestrian symbols of the sixties. It's as if they believe that adding a peace sign to their TV spot will make it an instant Boomer success."

    And there's more. A print ad for Ameriprise was sent to me recently for critique in the Selling To Seniors newsletter. It targets younger Boomers, this time invoking Disco as some sort of meaningful cultural touchstone. The ad was so unctuously ingratiating that I felt like puking.

    And as I type this, here comes your newsletter in my email box. Everybody else can access it here:


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