21 December 2006

Wrapping Up The Year

with a few odds and ends...

Those cheapskate, selfish Baby Boomers are at it again. Or are they simply fiscally irresponsible? Or both?
U.S. baby boomers seen donating $100 bln this year
U.S. baby boomers are expected to give roughly $100 billion to charity this year, marking a 25 percent increase from 2005, a study released on Thursday shows.
A few same old, same olds:
Baby Boomers Say TV Ads Neglect Them
The finding is especially significant because a majority of boomers surveyed--58%--say TV is their primary source of information about new products and services … Boomers surveyed … placed a high premium on humor, with 91% praising funny advertising, and actors who look like them. Fifty-one percent said they identify more with people in their age group. Tanya Giles, senior vice president, research and planning for TV Land, says … "Savvy marketers would do very well to court these consumers."
And…
Boomers Break the Mold
Many marketers and advertisers are ignoring the largest and potentially the most productive consumer group in the U.S. - Baby Boomers (40-59 year-olds) - The 82 million Baby Boomers currently make up 39% of the population … it's clear that Baby Boomers are just as likely as Millennials and Gen Xers to purchase and use many advanced technologies … Baby Boomers are more likely than others groups to be absorbed in different forms of media and can be reached through a variety of advertising efforts.
And (yawn)…
52% of Grandparents and 68% of Baby Boomers Want Tech Products for the Holidays
All information in articles of mine from three and four years ago, in my book written two years ago, in this blog over the last year and a half. Information heralded as new insights.

I'm getting drowsy. Any more exciting new insights and I'll fall asleep before my nap.

Here's something I missed, however - tipped off by a post at Aging Hipsters:
Psychological Neoteny
In a recent issue of Medical Hypotheses, (Dr. Bruce) Charlton argues that unlike previous, more settled societies that could afford to honor a narrow and well-defined worldview (that is, a "mature" one), modern life is tumultuous and ever-changing. Accordingly, it rewards those who retain a certain plasticity of mind and personality. "In a psychological sense, some contemporary individuals never actually become adults," he writes … Furthermore, he argues, social roles have become less fixed in modern society. We are expected to adapt to change throughout our lives, both in our personal relationships and in our careers, and immaturity, as Charlton added, is "especially helpful in making the best out of enforced job changes, the need for geographic mobility and the requirement to make new social networks." In fact, he speculates, the ability to retain youthful qualities, now often seen as folly, may someday be recognized as a prized trait.
Sounds like what everybody says about Baby Boomers, doesn't it? How immature we all are. We never grew up. This may or may not be true - but if true, it's obviously for good reasons.

Which reminds me of the big catch phrase of the year: 50 is the new 30, and/or 60 is the new 40, or some rubbish like that. Again, I talk about this at length in my book (before the phrase became popular), saying something along these lines: Baby Boomers do not think they are still in their twenties or thirties. They are redefining the ages they are.

And I'm not happy that someone put it better than I did (or at least more memorably and succinctly) — No, 60 isn't the new 40:
"60 is the new 60." - Gail Sheehy
One Baby Boomer blogging. Reminds me of what I just wrote and sent to my publishers for the 2nd Edition of the book. I talk about how so many sites that try to lure Boomers are rather vapid, empty.

Two things I never thought would turn me on: a cooking show and the postings of a Flack. A PR Blog that's sarcastic, intelligent, sexy, funny.

Gift giving? Here's the new Baby Boomer Donkey Kong - although I bet this game is better.

Happy Holidays. Two interesting marketing tomes are on their way to me, so expect book reviews in the New Year.

18 December 2006

AARP/History Channel's Our Generation: Toys of a Generation

Our Generation: Toys of a Generation

Airs on Friday December 22 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM
The Boomer Generation was the first generation to be actively marketed to as children. In the 1950's, canny advertisers used television to reach young boomers and entice them with a generation's worth of seemingly irresistible toys. Today, many of these toys are classics. Our resident historian Steve Gillon hosts.
I'm a talking head on this one. Should be a fun show. An earlier post about it.

The series has been very good so far. Shows on Kent State, MLK, The Sexual Revolution, Duck & Cover (with a fascinating tour of the big 'bunker' at Greenbrier), The Mustang, The Apollo Mission. The 13-part series is about midpoint with the one I'm on.

Visit the Our Generation web site.

15 December 2006

The Brouhaha Over WOMM

Over the last week I've dropped some comments in a few blogs I regularly read: The Flack and Brand Autopsy. So I might as well blog about the brouhaha here.

The Brouhaha: Word-of-Mouth Marketing. WOMM. It's been making headlines lately, what with the Edelman/WalMart RV/Blog fiasco and a few others. And a sort of but not really non-ruling ruling by the Federal Trade Commission:
The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said that companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships.
Here's Advertising Age chiming in:
The FTC's response was to an Oct. 18, 2005, petition from Commercial Alert, which claimed that marketers were "perpetrating large-scale deception" by paying consumers to shill for products but not revealing the financial arrangements. Commercial Alert called word of mouth, or buzz marketing as it's also known, "fundamentally fraudulent and misleading." ... The FTC decision means that companies such as Procter & Gamble, Hershey Co. and countless other corporations, agencies and buzz-specialty shops will avoid the specter of a thorough probe of their marketing practices. However, the FTC did leave the door open for the commission to examine issues on a case-by-case basis.
Back in March, Jack Trout weighed in on WOMM:
"How many people really want to chatter about products? Do you really want to talk about your toothpaste or your toilet paper? ..... This all brings me to my word-of-mouth on word-of-mouth marketing. It's not the next big thing. It's just another tool in your arsenal."
I said the same thing in August, 2005.

So your product or service is getting some sort of positive response from users/consumers? Maybe a cult is forming. Or something. People are talking.

Take advantage of this. You'd be stupid not to. Bring in the PR professionals, the marketing people. Reference it in advertising campaigns. Support this grass roots excitement.

But trying to create buzz out of nothing? Paying shills to hand out lipstick and gum, paying bloggers for their so-called objective opinions? Not for long:
A 2005 survey of 800 consumers by market research firm Intelliseek found that 29 percent of participants age 20 to 34 and 41 percent of those age 35 to 49 said they would be unlikely to trust a recommendation again from a friend whom they later learned was compensated for making the suggestion.
Follow the percentage progression above, and what will logic tell you about the efficacy of WOMM for Baby Boomers over fifty? And older? (Don't ask me why they weren't included in the survey - you probably know already if you've been reading this blog with any regularity.) Follow the percentage progression again - and will the numbers go up or down as the 20-34 year olds are in their thirties and forties in five/ten years?

My prediction: When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, print ad, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.

As far as all the claptrap about WOMM replacing advertising - people who are hawking that one have a slippery grip on history. Word-of-mouth marketing is nothing new. It's been around for a hundred years, since the beginning of modern advertising, always morphing into various forms. The latest morphs: online social networking and blogs.

There is plenty of marketing and advertising to be done on the Web, and who knows what forms they will take over the next ten years. We'll all be surprised. But word-of-mouth as the primary driving force of marketing? I think not.

Remember this: Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.

12 December 2006

Selling to Seniors, Circus, The Book, and Me

I've been writing. Pundit stuff. Now it's over for awhile (I hope). Some people find it hard to believe - but I'd rather be writing more copy and less pontification pieces.

Although I do enjoy it. And it seems to be worthwhile. I receive loads of complimentary email and phone calls. And very high-paying and very (because I'm a nice guy) low-paying consulting gigs. And I get to see my name misspelled in newspapers and magazines, usually attached to garbled quotes. I feel like a politician sometimes - misquoted and taken out of context.

The Pundit Stuff:

I critiqued three print ads (Geico, Fox Hills Senior Living, Pacificare) for the Selling To Seniors Monthly Report. These are always fun to do. My contributions are slated for the January 2007 issue.

Millennium's Circus will carry a second piece of mine in their 3rd issue. Again, always fun to do. I like being published internationally, having my work translated into other languages …

Okay, that's a big lie. The translations are from homespun English to English English: words like neighborhood ending up as neighbourhood. It amuses me.

And I've sent my publisher, Paramount Books,the final draft of the 2nd Edition of Advertising to Baby Boomers. Included will be four updated chapters, four new chapters, and a slim Forward and beefy Afterward that brings everything up to date. I think they'll be issuing it in paperback (I'm fighting for that, so it'll be less expensive). Should be out in February 2007.

Like Ringo, I got blisters on my fingers.

08 December 2006

The Blogging Boomers Carnival

Lifetwo.com has an interesting project going - a handpicked selection of blogs by Baby Boomers:
A collection of leading baby boomer blogs are coming together to create a weekly blogging "carnival" to promote important and relevant information, advice, and community for baby boomers. This will be one of the first blog round-ups of its type aimed specifically at baby boomer-related issues … "One of the reasons baby boomers are under-represented in the blogging world is the shortage of blogs of interest to them -- as well as the difficulty of finding them. "We created BloggingBoomers to fix both of these problems," says Wesley Hein of LifeTwo.
I'm not sure where they're headed - but it wouldn't be a bad bookmark for anybody marketing to Baby Boomers.

01 December 2006

All That Vapid, Mindless Imagery

Dick Stroud, blogger extraordinaire and author of The 50 Plus Market, has pointed us to a company offering interesting images of Baby Boomers and older for web sites and print ads. I railed about the lack of this a few months ago in my post INVASION OF THE BABY BOOMER POD PEOPLE.

Follow the link on Dick's post to Veer. Their images will give you better ideas about how to portray Boomers. Trust me - we're more diverse, multidimensional, intelligent, involved, and interesting than we're being portrayed.


... Okay, so we're not always that interesting.

27 November 2006

Boom Time

I was interviewed recently by Matt Histand, Senior Editor of The Advertising Specialty Institute's Counselor Magazine:
ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute®) is the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, with a membership of 22,000 distributor firms (sellers) and 3,300 supplier firms (manufacturers).
For fifty years, Counselor™ has been the leading source of news in the promotional products industry. The unique position of ASI in the marketplace gives our editors and reporters an unmatched perspective, and that translates into the most insightful and readable magazine in the industry.
Matt put together a very good piece about (you guessed it) advertising - along with a list of what Baby Boomers might like when it comes to promotional items:
Boom Time
Baby Boomers start turning 60 this year, but they show no sign of slowing down. As a group they control an estimated $2.3 trillion in annual spending power and the next chapter in their lives will bring about tremendous change and opportunities for advertisers.
Other good pieces include an interview with Colin Powell and one about the value of older employees.

Last year I was interviewed by Counselor's sister publication Advantages Magazine for its feature article, Boomers Beyond:Marketing to a 50-Plus Audience:
Advantages is written to inspire and motivate promotional products sales professionals. Each monthly issue is packed with sales-friendly product showcases, dependable ideas, proven sales tips, and helpful case histories.

21 November 2006

Study: TV's youth obsession backfiring

Here's a piece by AP's television and entertainment writer David Bauder:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they believe that most TV programming and advertising is targeted toward people under 40, the survey said. More than 80 percent of adults over 40 say they have a hard time finding TV shows that reflect their lives.
Mr. Bauder does an excellent job of reporting all sides of the issue. (It's not surprising, because I read him regularly and he always does top-notch reporting by highlighting various viewpoints.) However, for me there's not much new here. That's because I'm knee-deep in this mess. What is said can be found in my book, this blog, and other books and blogs about advertising, media, and Baby Boomers.

If you're new to all this, the article will be illuminating. And there are fresh numbers to crunch:
Advertisers will pay a premium for young viewers: $335 for every thousand people in the 18-to-24 age range that a network delivers, for example. Viewers aged 55-to-64 are worth only $119 for every thousand, according to Nielsen Media Research.
What I do find fascinating has less to do with the article and more to do with its syndication. When a news outlet picks up an AP story it can change the headline, the lede, and has the right to edit the piece for space consideration. Most editors simply leave it alone - but often they feel as if they have to justify their existence - and play around with the headlines.

From "TV's youth obsession backfiring" we get these anti-boomer, ageist variations:

Television's new obsession with youth irritates boomers

TV industry's irritating baby boomers

Baby boomers piqued at TV's youth obsession

Boomers disdain TV's youth mania

And the winner is … MSNBC:

Baby boomers upset TV isn't all about them

In the spirit of fun and games with the news, I've come up with a few of my own reasonable, moderate, neutral headlines for Mr. Bauder's article:

Youthful TV Execs Live in Bubble, Will Bring Down Network Television

Message to Television Advertisers: Don't Trust Anyone Under Thirty

Really Dumb Twenty-Something Media Planners Clueless, Should Be Fired


Young, Myopic TV Execs Think It's All About Them

Oh, how I love to be 'fair and balanced'…


For another take on David Bauder's article, read Brent Green's Boomers Do Not Need Their Own TV Network.

17 November 2006

Haggar Redux

Haggar's 'Making Things Right' campaign has the ad bloggers and others buzzing. People love it, hate it. It's hilarious, it's unfunny, it's original, it's trite, it's homophobic (even homoerotic), it's finally acknowledging middle-age men as men and not wimps, it's socially irresponsible, it's about time someone stood up to lazy kids and faggy neighbors.

Here is a fair mix of reactions. One self-proclaimed 'Dork' actually thinks one spot is a spoof of Haggar ads.

I blogged about these ads a few days ago. Since then, a bunch of people have emailed me. They think I've condoned the ads. I don't condone ads. I comment on them - and my comments are usually confined to whether or not they will resonate with Baby Boomers. Read my original post about this campaign.

One person emailing was a gentleman I met at a business conference last March. He is the former CMO of a major international company, and has served as president of a very prestigious, non-profit organization. Originally, he sent me a link to the Wall Street Journal article. After seeing one spot in the campaign, he wrote:
Have you seen the version where the middle aged guys are throwing their daughter's boyfriends out the window? This one is right on target.
But later in the day he emailed me again:
…Seeing the campaign in its entirety causes me a great deal of concern. Anyone who has dealt with the problems of adolescence can sympathize with some of the emotions. However, much of this is over the top (like the car wash scene) … We must avoid the intergenerational conflict that is on the horizon. If campaigns like this go too far, that will be difficult to avoid.
My personal reaction to the campaign is that it's simply about a couple of frustrated, middle-class white guys being bullies. They've watched one too many episodes of The Sopranos (or the creatives have). The two actors playing Tony Soprano and Tony Soprano are well-cast. Overall, there are a some funny bits and some not so funny bits. I don't find the spots that outrageous, just tongue-in-cheek.

As far as intergenerational conflict, I'm not in disagreement with my friend - but again, I try not to comment on that stuff.

My point in the original post was this: Want to target middle-class, suburban, angry white guys with a wild, controversial, 'talk about' campaign? Fine. This'll probably do it. But if you want to make outlandish, trouble-making, irresponsible commercials that will resonate with Baby Boomers, do a bit of research.

The Haggar campaign has nothing to do with Baby Boomers. It's targeting guys in their thirties and early forties. An overlap, true - but not much. If they think they're targeting men in their fifties and sixties, they're way off the mark. If they seriously want to reach this market, they had better start 'making things right' - like having the grandfather throw the parents out the window. Having the grandfather scrunched up in the trunk of his grandkid's car helping him install a loud sound system - to the horror of the parents. Having the grandfather throw sponges at his adult son.

Here is a successful, troublemaking, tongue-in-cheek spot from Australia. It has the sensibility that I'm talking about. This agency did its homework. Baby Boomers are all over the youngest generation. The last thing they want to do is alienate or bully them. They want to nurture them. For better or worse, they think of millennials/grandchildren as their legacy. And they want to 'stir things up.'

Enough pontificating. I'm off to JC Penny to check out these Haggar pants and buy a big baseball bat to carry around the neighborhood so I can intimidate everybody. The campaign says the slacks have a lifetime guarantee - but nowhere does it say if they are stain-resistant to dog crap, or will protect me from getting AIDS from the gay guy down the street.

Maybe that info will be on the labels.

15 November 2006

Marketing to Boomers

Ruth Solomon of The Sun-Times News Group covered The Boomers and Beyond Business Conference in Chicago that I spoke at last month. Ms. Solomon does a wonderful job summing up what happened there. Read her piece about it:
Marketing to Boomers

People 45 and older make up 77 percent of the drug market ($43 billion) and 53 percent of the new-car market ($107 billion), said Linda Fisher, director of national member research for the AARP, the advocacy organization for older and retired Americans. And the 50 million Americans in the 60-plus market spend more than $1 trillion a year, she said.

14 November 2006

A Conversation with Dr. Robert N. Butler

I hope you can take a peek at this New York Times piece by Claudia Dreifus before it disappears behind the Orange Curtain. It's an interview with Dr. Robert N. Butler of The International Longevity Center. He's quite the mythbuster, the troublemaker:
"Now, the boomers could become a strong public group by virtue of their size. They have political experience and they may use it to create change. If they are able to, it will mostly benefit Generations X and Y."
Not exactly conventional wisdom, is it? But there's also a non-conventional wisdom downside:
"I think they're (Baby Boomers) in for a hell of time, because society is not prepared for them. And I don’t think they’re a bit prepared for old age. They are often fat, unhealthy, and they haven’t been saving money — though a small percentage of them will receive inheritances."
Dr. Butler also discusses pharmaceutical testing, ageism (a word he coined), and the real meaning of the word 'retired.'

09 November 2006

Haggar ads paint middle-aged as the 'new young'

Haggar has a new campaign. Read about it in Suzanne Vranica's syndicated WSJ article:
Haggar has abandoned its previous youth-themed ad strategy and is acknowledging that Haggar is a brand for average, middle-aged men who don't read GQ and know nothing about the latest trends from Seventh Avenue … The casual men's clothing maker is recognizing that many of its customers are in their 50s and 60s. "Our guy is the baby-boomer guy," says Croncota, adding that past attempts to woo young men were a "stretch."
Actually, the campaign targets middle-class men in the 30-45 age range - which is fine. Not many Baby Boomers in that demographic - which is also fine. But there also aren't that many men in the demographic, which isn't also fine.

Watch the commercials on the Haggar web site.

The ads have the sensibility of twenty/thirtysomething creatives. They're funny, sort of outrageous, cute, unfortunately a bit patronizing - and probably won't resonate with Baby Boomers over forty-five. That's because the spots have that Married with Children/King of the Hill lowest common denominator feel. (While I got a big kick out of Married with Children, I don't remember ever wanting to wear Al Bundy's pants and shirts.)

Add to this the Boomer grandparent ethos. Not too many are still parents of teenagers, or have antipathy towards children and teenagers today. If anything, they are doing everything in their power to befriend and influence Millennials. I blogged about this earlier. Here's a quote from a recent article in The Houston Chronicle:
"Boomers think their grandkids are too programmed, and they're looking to stir things up."
Does Haggar really want to make a truly outrageous, slaphappy spot that would resonate with Baby Boomers? How about a scenario where overbearing, addled-brained parents are telling their two kids what to think, what to do - silly, pointless advice - and have a youngish (late 40s, early 50s) grandfather and his buddy throw the parents out the window - to the delight of their grandchildren.

Haggar and their ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky are right about one thing: long form commercials are the way to go to reach Baby Boomers. I talk about this in my book. Read a few chapters on The Advertising Educational Foundation web site - and find out my take on how Haggar and other companies should be producing commercials targeting Baby Boomers.

Follow-up Post: Haggar Redux Haggar's 'Making Things Right' campaign has the ad bloggers and others buzzing.

06 November 2006

Newsweek: Television Was UsTube

Newsweek's The Boomer Files can be a bit heavy-handed, and sometimes a bit much - but there are good pieces sprinkled here and there. So far, the Albert Brooks piece is my favorite.

A new one is about television. Marc Peyser writes:
When "Davy Crockett" debuted on ABC in 1954, the show was supposed to be a flop ... Something amazing happened when that first episode aired, however: 40 million people watched. And that was just the beginning. "Crockett" doodads-toy wagons, guitars and, especially, coonskin caps-sold faster than a wild mustang can run. Within a year, the merchandise generated more than $300 million-in today's dollars, about $2 billion.
This echoes "Chuck the Talking Head" on an upcoming History Channel/AARP segment of "Our Generation."

The article does a good job zipping us through television in the 50s, 60s, 70s - and ends up with this insightful conclusion:
If there's an irony to all this - and boomers love their irony - it's that TV today has lost almost all its taste for social commentary … To the degree that TV taught boomers to look thoughtfully at their world, that lesson may be lost. When Archie and Edith sang "Those Were the Days," they were more prescient than anyone knew.

05 November 2006

Grand-scale Grandparents

Baby Boomers are all over their grandchildren - and Millennials in general.

I've written about this before.

And even before that.

So they're buying lots of toys (and more serious gifts) for their grandchildren. Check out this piece by David Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle:
Grandparents spend an average of $500 a year on each grandchild, collectively $30 billion per year, according to an AARP study.

"This is the first group of seniors that's embarrassed to have an AARP card," noted Carol Rehtmeyer, president of Rehtmeyer, a toy design, development and manufacturing company … "They're from the rock 'n' roll generation, and embrace spontaneousness and fun," she said. "Boomers think their grandkids are too programmed, and they're looking to stir things up."
But the real person all over this is Christine Crosby of GRAND Magazine.

Read a recent press release about GRAND.

Ignore the Research and Trust Your Gut

Here's a speech I liked hearing about - reported in Advertising Age by Lisa Sanders and from the mouth of Euro RSCG Worldwide's David Jones:

Taking a "swipe at the research and pre-testing industry," Mr. Jones next exhorted listeners to stop asking permission. Drawing on a "truth" from British comedian Vic Reeves that "96.2% of all statistics are made up," Mr. Jones -- also a Brit -- argued that some of the most well-liked ads aren't based on research or focus-group results. Instead they rely on a creative director's gut instinct of what consumers will like. He cited Procter and Gamble's effort for Charmin toilet tissue created by Euro rival Publicis Worldwide that riffs off of the many euphemisms for elimination. "Publicis took a risk, and did it without a bit of research," he said.

And by way of reinforcing the previous point, his last bit of advice was for creatives to "trust your gut." Advertising is changing fast, and to not take a risk is risky -- even though it's scary to take a risk.
No argument from me. I love it.

But there is one big problem. When targeting Baby Boomers you have to have the right guts around to trust. That'd be 50+ creative guts.

It wouldn't be too bright to trust my gut to come up with a campaign for a product aimed at twentysomethings. My gut would tell me, "… Ummm ... ummm ... Wait! I got it! We get some twentysomething girl an' spike her hair an' give'er tattoos and a nose ring an' put an iPod on her head an' bed some hip-hop music an' have her hold up the toothpaste! Yeah! They'll buy it! They'll buy it!"

Sixties music. Peace signs. They'll buy it. Portraying Boomers as teenagers with gray hair. They'll buy it.

Actually, I'm talking about diversity and playing the odds.

Also in the piece are incisive comments by Mr. Jones about the problems of relying on WOM and the premature death knell for the 30-second spot.

And check out other videos from the conference. I especially liked the ones with David Verklin and Alex Bogusky. Much of what they say parallels a few chapters in my book:

Verklin: More video/commercial content needed, and targeted.
Bogusky: Working with a client.

03 November 2006

Another Same Old, Same Old

Here's another 'same old, same old' article in the December 2006 edition of CRM magazine.

Nine out of ten points made and 'new insights' revealed are in my book Advertising to Baby Boomers (June 2005, Paramount Books) and/or can be found on this blog. Many of these same points are also discussed in Brent Green's Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers — and if you've kept up with Matt Thornhill's Boomer Project.

Again, nothing much new here - but for a quick, skeletal 'Cliff Notes' version, give it a read.

A 2nd Edition of my book (probably in paperback) with four or five new chapters and much updating will be available in early 2007.

01 November 2006

The steady glow of the Boom tube

Eric Deggans has a top-notch piece in The St. Petersburg Times:
"… A mountain of assumptions: Older consumers don't change brands easily. Older consumers are too savvy to be swayed by peer pressure or fads. Older people aren't interested in consumer items such as fast food, fashionable clothing, electronics or entertainment. Older consumers will watch advertising messages targeted to young people, but young people won't reciprocate."
"Such presumptions led major advertisers to target young people decades ago, building a media establishment that valued, over all others, consumers ages 18 to 49. And nowhere was this disparity worse than in the TV industry, where older adults spend more time watching television, but still are valued less."
All echoing themes in my book, my presentations, this blog. Here's one more:
"Researchers always asked 'When will the boomers become old and start acting like their parents'" said Sarah Zapolski, of the Knowledge Management research division at AARP. "But we were asking the wrong question. In many ways, boomers are behaving the way they've always behaved: They've always been less conservative about shopping and entertainment and fashion."
But it was the lede that really hit home:
It's something Linda Ellerbee can feel, like a cold breeze on the back of her neck, every time she meets with somebody from Madison Avenue.
No kidding. Wait until you start preaching to Madison Avenue about this stuff. It's less like a cold breeze and more like being dumped headfirst into a cryogenic freezer...

Visit Linda Ellerbee's Lucky Duck Productions.

30 October 2006

Boomers and Beyond Conference: Big Success and Lots of Fun

Beyond the Boomers: The Transition Years ended up being a big success. Much thanks to Les Harris and Gerry Linda for putting it on. All the speakers were top-notch.

I handed over ten minutes of my time to Kevin Lavery (an attendee) because - well, he's the Executive Creative Director of an ad agency in England that only takes on clients targeting the 50+ market - and has two-hundred employees. There's nothing even remotely like that over here, so I thought everybody should know about Millennium.

What really made the conference a success were the attendees. Most paid close attention during the presentations, and during breaks and lunch they huddled around the speakers to ask questions and say thanks. A few who introduced themselves to me were Kevin Carboni of Harvest Moon Advertising, Karyn Harris-Sudah of The Marketing Store, Laurel Kennedy of AgeLessons, Fashionista author and writer Mary Duffy, Mike Meyers of thirdgear.com, Dr. Jane Wilkins (a sports therapist - and do I ever need her), Barbara Rayll of Lincoln Financial Group, and Sheila Reilly of Reilly Group. Sponsors I chatted with were Christine Crosby and Jonathan Micocci of Grand Magazine and Patrick Conboy of Elderluxe.

Personally, a big kick for me was finally meeting a bunch of legendary characters I've only known through emails and phone chats. Along with Kevin Lavery, there was the ubiquitous Matt Thornhill of The Boomer Project, Linda Fisher of AARP Knowledge Managment, Mike Irwin of Focalyst, and my (wonderful, lovely, and very smart especially when picking authors to publish) publisher Doris Walsh.

Talk about mixing business with pleasure …

26 October 2006

MIT AgeLab

While on a private day-long consult for a major pharma company and their marketing agency, I met Dr. Joseph Coughlin, founding Director of the MIT AgeLab:
Our work is "use-inspired basic research." It seeks to be profoundly practical in everyday living -- transportation, health, communications, business, work & retirement, planning & decision making, play & recreation, and caregiving, while seeking to advance basic understanding of how aging impacts and is impacted by social, economic and technological systems.

Our research is motivated by a shared belief that the appropriate use of technology, along with innovations in delivery, can have a significant impact on the quality of life for older adults, their families and caregivers.

Our activities involve an array of disciplines including engineering, computer science, human factors, health and medical science, design, management, marketing, and the social and behavioral sciences.
As you can imagine, I've 'seen'em all' when it comes to presenters and pundits specializing in age-related issues. Dr. Coughlin's presentation was nothing I'd ever heard or seen before. Mind-boggling technological advances are already here or down the road apiece. Every company focusing on the 50+ market should grab him for a private consultation, every Baby Boomer marketing conference should book him.

The day was productive and fun. The three 'experts' were Dr. Coughlin, John Page from Yankelovich, and you-know-who. The numbers-cruncher wore a very conservative, gray suit, the academic a dark pinstripe and loud bow tie, and the ad guy a mock turtleneck and over-the-top orangey sport coat.

We were straight from central casting.

24 October 2006

The History Channel's "Our Generation"

Whew. I'm back from a grueling but productive and fun road trip.

I'll blog about it chronologically, with three entries. You're reading the first one:

A stop in Atlantic City for a talking head gig on The History Channel's 13-part series Our Generation with Steve Gillon. It was taped at an antique show, the crew was bouncing around, wending its way in and around booths hawking toys from the 1940s, 50s, 60s. It's a big business, these Baby Boomer toys.

I brought in my pal John Migliaccio - and Steve, John, and Yours Truly huddled alongside a hectic aisle, chatting about the advertising and marketing back then. And the TV shows. And the toys. My diarrhea of the mouth included bloviations on Howdy Doody, Wyatt Earp, Mr. Potato Head, our disposable childhoods, and who knows what else — and who knows what'll be left in and what'll be left on the virtual cutting-room floor.

John talked about his Slinky.

I didn't know it at the time, but AARP is the sponsor of the show. Steve Gillon will be at the AARP convention this week. Something from the AARP convention web site:
The History Channel presents "Our Generation"
Steve Gillon and Hugh Delahanty

AARP is proud to be the exclusive sponsor of Our Generation, The History Channel's new series that takes you on a journey to visit the places, people and events that have shaped the largest and most vocal generation in American history: the baby boomers. The History Channel's resident historian, Steve Gillon, tells the stories of the unforgettable events that defined this generation and changed the world. This generation rocked at Woodstock, rocked an administration during Watergate, watched America put a man on the moon, and helped create our digital world. From politics to pop culture, this is the story of the iconic moments that defined America's most iconic generation and is told by the people who witnessed these events and made them history. Join Steve and Hugh Delahanty, editor-in-chief of AARP Publications as they discuss Our Generation, preview clips from upcoming episodes, and answer audience questions.
The show premieres this Friday. Keep a lookout for it. When the episode I'm in is on, the world shall be warned right here.

Update 12/16/06 - The episode is scheduled for this week:

Our Generation: Toys of a Generation Airs on Friday December 22 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM