28 September 2006

Jeff, Chuck, BusinessWeek an' The Broads

Last Sunday I was a guest on a fun Boston radio show, Boomer Broads with Attitude, hosted by Anne-Marie Aigner and Janet Prensky:
We are two women…both boomers…both with enough attitude to pass around! We have been called sassy, brassy, frank and some things we can't print! But never boring. Life is too short for boring! And, about the title: "Boomer BROADS" - we know some won't like it. Call yourselves what you want-we like the word "broads". We're proud to be broads!
Also on the show was Jeff Taylor of Eons.

The next day a BusinessWeek article by Olga Kharif was nailed to the ether:
Only a few smart Internet sites have figured out how to appeal to a large constituency with time to spend and money to burn … GrowingBolder, some of whose programming already appears on a local Clear Channel (CCU) radio station, also plans to offer video profiles of boomer role models, says Marc Middleton, CEO of Boomer Broadcasting, which produces GrowingBolder.com.
I'm quoted in the article. So is Jeff Taylor of Eons.

Mr. Taylor seems to be following me around. Well, just like with Oprah - I'm the selfless sort. If Jeff's name cozying up to mine will give a boost to his project, I'm glad to help...

26 September 2006

Focalyst: Ads Send Wrong Message

Here's a good piece by Joshua Chaffin originally in The Financial Times:
Nearly one-quarter of US baby-boomers are insulted by the advertising messages that companies are sending them, according to a new study … The survey suggested that many companies were taking a misguided approach as they attempted to reach out to the largest and wealthiest group of US consumers.
I agree with the Focalyst findings - but my solution is a bit different. Reaching Baby Boomers has more to do with sensibility when fashioning ad campaigns and less to do with simply defining cohorts and targeting them. The reason campaigns are ineffective is because the best advertising is done by people who advertise to themselves. Hire Baby Boomers to be the creative directors, copywriters, art directors, and graphic designers - and guess what - Baby Boomers will respond to intelligent advertising.

Have I said this before? About a hundred times over the last four years.

Mike Irwin will be in Chicago (along with Yours Truly) on October 20th at the Beyond the Boomers Business Conference.

17 September 2006

The Very Unsecretive Forth and Towne

Here's a link to a blog posting of mine from over a year ago:
Oh ...... great idea! Just ignore the largest, richest demographic — a generation very much accustomed to being advertised to (and not particularly happy that they're off the radar nowadays) — and one that has always responded well to intelligent, informative advertising ... Just hope that they pop in...
Here's a news story on fibre2fashion.com:
All set for Gap Inc media blitz for its Forth & Towne apparel brand
The sophisticated, visually arresting campaign was shot by renowned fashion photographer Michael Thompson and features stylized images of iconic models Beri Smither, Tatjana Patitz, Karen Alexander, Danielle Zinaich Strahl and Lisa Taylor with taglines such as "Go Forth and Be Chic" and "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Purse."
Hmmm. Like I said in another post about another industry:
Think of me as some brilliant seer.
A visionary.
Or just some slob with a bit of common sense.
Take your pick. I'll be happy with any of these labels.
Much thanks to Dick Stroud (another brilliant seer or just some slob with a bit of common sense, take your pick) for bringing this to my attention. Read what he has to say about Forth & Towne.

16 September 2006

The Search for Mr. Adequate

I received an email from Susan Silver. She had googled "Boomer Broads with Attitude" and found my blog:
"We are both going to be on Boomer Broads. Sunday I believe. I have a column which might be of interest to your fans and readers...about dating at a 'certain age.'"
Well … I was bumped from the premiere of BBWA. Probably for Susan. OK with me. I'm now booked on the second show.

I googled Ms. Silver, and clicked on a handful of her pieces. It's obvious why she's considered "the high priestess of sociological comedy through her column, The Search for Mister Adequate."

The above quote is from a recent profile of Susan Silver by Pranay Gupte in The New York Sun. Little did I know that Susan had already made me laugh hundreds of times:
Anyone who wrote comedy for the acclaimed television programs "Maude," "The Bob Newhart Show," and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" has to be a funny girl, right?

"I'm sure there are available men out there," she said, "but, of course, you've got to find them. I have women friends who attend funerals to spot single men. Some go on cruises. Some go bicycling. The problem is that they're still looking for 'The Prince,' 'The Perfect Man.' At a certain age, I hope we're wise enough to realize that he doesn't exist. But 'Mister Adequate' might."
I exchanged a handful of emails with Ms. Silver - one explaining that her search was officially over: by emailing me she had found Mr. Adequate. She replied that I was 'too cute' to be Mr. Adequate. So I guess that makes me Mr. Slightly-More-Than-Adequate — and overqualified. Or she just doesn't want to admit to everybody that she's finally found what she's been looking for - because The New York Social Diary would then have to spike her column.

But there are other questions that needed answering. Read this piece from Cox News Service:
If you're among the almost 80 million baby boomers who make up the majority of the network TV audience, you're going to see more of your own people on the tube this season … Instead of a slew of way-too-cute twentysomethings, you're going to see stars of a "certain age." … You're going to see 59-year-old James Woods in designer suits at the helm of CBS's new legal drama "Shark," 58-year-old Ted Danson leading the chuckles on ABC's new sitcom "Help Me Help You," a couple of certifiable geezers - 60-year-old John Lithgow (in a Speedo in the pilot) and 62-year-old Jeffrey Tambor - in NBC's comedy "Twenty Good Years" and 59-year-old Sally Field at the head of the table on the ABC drama "Brothers & Sisters."
So I'm wondering … are the networks, the Hollywood TV production companies, wooing Susan, begging her to write again for television? They should be. I don't know if they are or not. But they should be. And they should be wooing lots of other former television writers of 'a certain age.'

Ms. Silver is in New York. Are ad agencies wooing her, begging her to write commercials for these TV shows? I don't know, but they should be.

The same, fateful day that Ms. Silver found Mr. Adequate, Mr. Adequate was interviewed by Olga Kharif, a writer for Businessweek. It was all about Baby Boomers, the web, technology, advertising. (If I get ether ink, I'll link to it here.) One thing I remember saying: "What if someone in their fifties or early sixties walked into an ad agency. Say this person had studied art/design in college decades ago, always wanted to work in advertising or the media - but got sidetracked. This person is up on all the latest graphic software, and wants a job in the creative department. And the ad agency actually has a few clients with products/services for Baby Boomers. What do you think the chances are of this person being hired? Zero. Just think: ex-creatives brought back into the fold, paired with fifty year old 'fresh blood.' Do you think this would be the best of all possible worlds when targeting Baby Boomers? It would. But it'll never happen. And the clients are robbed."

Apply the above to copywriters. And all the new television shows targeting Baby Boomers. Imagine seasoned writers/directors teamed with middle-aged 'fresh blood.'

Susan Silver is searching for Mr. Adequate. I hope she finds something better. Advertising agency and media companies, when fashioning campaigns and entertainment aimed at the 50+ market, happily hire hundreds of Mr. and Miss Adequates. They should be searching for something better.

14 September 2006


Here is a collection of copy from six web sites targeting 50+ (always accompanied by stock images of smiling, vapid, mindless Baby Boomers – usually in the ocean or on beaches):
Redefining Life After Fifty!

Don't Just Live Longer. Live Bigger. After 50 Life Becomes Yours.

Our mission is to inform and inspire the Boomers and to promote a new vision of life after fifty.

Our mission is to encourage our readers to live bigger. To take risks and pursue their dreams.

Our vision … is to rewrite the rules of getting older and transform the voice of aging from one of limitation to one of possibility.

***** is a media company focused on empowering individuals to live the lives they imagine.

Now we have a brand new site with smiling, vapid, mindless Baby Boomers in the ocean — along with empty-headed aspirational messages, small wishy-washy fonts, and headache-inducing copy over graphics:

You've had one "prime of life". Now, as an active Boomer, you're ready for your "Second Prime!"
…. I'm getting sleepy…. WAIT! DON'T LET ME FALL ASLEEP! PLEASE! I'LL TURN INTO ONE OF THEM! DON'T let meeeeee…...


Added 19 Sept 06: Now here is a conundrum for you

Update August 2009: A post about a recent news item

Beyond The Boomers Conference in Chicago

Beyond The Boomers: The Transition Years is turning into a must-go-to business conference. Recent additions include Matt Thornhill of The Boomer Project and Mike Irwin of Focalyst. These gents are the presidents of the two top research/marketing firms focusing on Baby Boomers and the 50+ demographic.

And it will be the first time that Mr. Thornhill and Mr. Irwin will appear together at a neutral venue. I'm bringing along two pair of boxing gloves so they can duke it out.

The championship bout will be at The Chicago Hilton on October 20th. Opening bouts include Chuck Nyren vs. his on-the-fritz laptop computer and bent-out-of-shape and always-falling-off-his-nose reading glasses.

Read more about Beyond The Boomers: The Transition Years.

11 September 2006

Managing Age Diversity in the Advertising Industry

Paula Sartini in South Africa has an excellent piece about diversity on MARKETINGWEB. A few quotes:
"The advertising industry is notoriously associated with young people, crazy ideas, wild parties, and general excessiveness. The average age in the industry is way below 30 …"

"During the last few years the industry has been under tremendous pressure to reflect a more diverse workforce, and although not substantial enough, some inroads have been made into the issue of racial mix …"

"Advertising agencies are in the business of creativity. They are also in the business of managing human perceptions. It's therefore interesting that although many tactics are employed to ensure creativity, agencies have traditionally not cottoned on to the fact that a more diverse workforce, inclusive of non-discriminatory age policies, poses the potential for greater competitive advantage."
Her article echoes major themes in my book, Advertising to Baby Boomers.

And if you think diversity is a problem only in places like South Africa, read this piece by Dianne Cardwell and Stuart Elliott of the New York Times:
Finding that just 2 percent of the upper echelon of the advertising industry is black, New York City officials said yesterday that they had reached agreements with several of the nation's biggest ad firms forcing them to bring more black managers into this crucial sector of the city's economy.

07 September 2006

The Kind of Slow Death I Like

A few folks have sent me a link to The Baby Boomer Death Clock. Even the fellow who put it up emailed me:
Hi Chuck,
I thought you might find www.boomerdeathclock.com funny. Better get marketing, we're dropping like flies. Seriously though; the death and dying industry must be set to make a killing on our generation! Pun intended. - Jim
Some people find the Death Clock humorous, some are offended, some simply shrug. When I first saw it I mildly chuckled - but it wasn't long before I realized how inspirational the clock is. Looks like we'll be around for a very long time.

The biggest shock for me was how many Baby Boomers are still alive. I don't sit around thinking about these things - but if someone had asked me, "What percentage of Baby Boomers do you think have died?" I probably would've guessed about 20-25%. I find out from the Death Clock that only 6.5% have passed away. That is truly astounding. Compare that to previous generations over the last few hundred years. Thanks to all sorts of health/medical practices and advances, we'll be the first generation in history to be huge, vital and active after age fifty (and this isn't some guy wearing rose-colored glasses talking). For the next quarter-century Baby Boomers will continue to be on the cutting-edge politically, culturally, artistically, economically. Add this to what has already been accomplished over the last four decades (a good resource is Leonard Steinhorn's book) and Baby Boomers will end up being the most influential generation since … the generation that came of age in the 1920s?

On topic: We'll certainly be the first generation over forty seriously targeted by marketers and advertisers (if they're smart). Again, Baby Boomers will be a major economic force for another quarter-century, minimum.

But the real legacy may be our influence on the Millennials (born between 1987 and 2000). They're already showing signs of rebellion, rejecting authority, thinking for themselves, redefining social structures, breaking taboos. The best part: they are the most ethnically, culturally, and religously diverse generation ever — adding to the Baby Boomers' penchant for inclusiveness. Our most potent legacy could be our grandchildren. My hope is that they outshine us in every way.

Take a look at the Boomer Death Clock again. If you ask me, it's barely ticking.

05 September 2006

Baby Boomers and Firefox

Sarah Lacy's latest piece in Businessweek is all about Mozilla's Firefox:
"But as Mozilla prepares for the October release of the next version of Firefox, the group is facing its biggest challenge yet: Going mainstream. Firefox's share of the market, however impressive, has been flat after rapid growth in 2004 and 2005. Analysts say that's because Mozilla has largely reached the natural Firefox constituency-hip college students, Microsoft haters, and tech geeks."
I use Firefox. However, I'm not in one of the demos above: I have no beef with Microsoft (in fact, I wrote some copy for them a loooooong time ago), I'm not a hip college student, I'm hardly a tech geek - although I know my way around a computer and the internet.

Firefox is simply a better browser. In some ways, it's much better. Using tabs along with their scrapbook feature is the best way to gather and store web-based info, and the extensions make virtual life easier and are easy to install. I get a kick out of sifting through the available extensions. It's obvious that the open-source developers are having a blast creating them.

But as the article says:
"Mozilla's order will only get taller once Microsoft releases the latest version of Internet Explorer, now available in test mode. The new Microsoft browser already contains many of the innovations that have set Firefox apart … Some fear Firefox could even lose market share."
Here is where Mozilla will really stumble - their patronizing dismissal of Baby Boomers and older:
"There are more than 63 million baby boomers and 25 million senior citizens online, and Mozilla figures the best way to reach them is for their more tech-savvy kids or relatives to install Firefox for them."
I've blogged about this before:

My Favorite Cyber-Myth

Baby Boomers Burst Online

The computer/internet ethos for most Baby Boomers is that they pick and choose what technology they want to use, buy, or install. Some are all over Skype, video and music uploading and downloading, research, education, travel planning, shopping - while eschewing blogging, communities, and web page design. Or it's the other way around. Or variations thereof. When it comes to new technology, most Baby Boomers only learn about what interests them. They don't feel the need to know everything about computers and the web.

Mozilla should make a case for Baby Boomers to choose Firefox. And there are tons of reasons for Boomers to do so. Aside from the Firefox features, most Boomers would identify with and champion a bunch of rebellious folk that questions authority and the status quo and created a product out of love and not for profit. We’ve always liked idealistic troublemakers.

I might be willing to join in and do a bit of free Firefox evangelizing - maybe by writing some copy explaining in down-to-earth language the advantages of Firefox. It would appear to be age-neutral copy, but in a style that Baby Boomers would find appealing and relevant. I could also offer some WOM and media planning advice, since media buyers/planners probably won't be much help.

But sadly … because I'm over fifty, I'm too much of a technological luddite to figure out how to find Mozilla on the web and email them. I'll have to wait until some 'tech-savvy kid' comes over so he/she can do it for me.

01 September 2006

So What's A Baby Boomer?

Thanks to Food Navigator USA, we have a bit of insight into the recent IRI Report on Baby Boomers:
Published by market researcher Information Resources Inc (IRI), the report separates baby boomers into three groups: Kennedy Boomers (born between 1956-1964), Truman Boomers (1946-1955) and FDR 60s (1936-1945).
I'm someone who isn't particularly anal about defining the term Baby Boomers. The above doesn't quite work for me - but what I do like about it is this: the report recognizes that culturally (and it's an unwieldy, diverse culture) the term Baby Boomers includes people born before 1946.

The "baby boom" actually began in 1943 when birth rates began to rise, dipping slightly in 1944 and 1945. I like to include people born a few years before that when I talk about Baby Boomers. And if you press me, I'll admit that for me the "baby boom" ended in 1957 - and people born between 1958 and 1964 really are another generation.

In other words, I think people born in the years 1939-1957 have more in common than people born in the years 1946-1964.

Just one snooty pundit's opinion.

More about the IRI Report.

A good piece by Ronni Bennett.