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

11 October 2006

Not Getting Older, Just More Scrutinized

Here's a bland, generic piece in the New York Times about marketing/advertising to Baby Boomers.

Except for one excellent insight:
They have no use for nostalgia, yet they relate wonderfully to the icons of their past. Marketers say, for example, that Aleve hit a home run when it showed Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock of Star Trek, having trouble making the "Live Long and Prosper" sign with arthritic hands. Why? "It wasn't a trip down nostalgia lane," Mr. (Matt) Thornhill said. "It was using a boomer icon talking about a present and future problem."
Blogging is on hold for awhile. I'm off to a private consulting/speaking assignment in Delaware, a guest talking-head gig for a History Channel special about Baby Boomers, and a speaking slot at the Beyond The Boomers Conference in Chicago on October 20th.

It's probably too late to make plans if you're not in the Chicago area - but if you are, think about attending. There are a few tickets left. Matt Thornhill (quoted above) will be speaking - along with Mike Irwin of Focalyst, Christine Crosby of Grand Magazine, and others. And there will be an surprise appearance by a top international 50+ marketing/advertising executive. He's a paid attendee (coming all the way from England) and not officially on the program, so I can't mention his name - but I'm giving him ten minutes of my speaking time, and he'll probably be on the day-end panel.

Back in a few weeks...

05 October 2006


LifeTwo is a rambunctious online magazine. Along with original pieces, it does a great job of collecting links to eclectic articles and blogs - and commenting on them. You can also contribute articles - or at least have them considered.

The content is a bit overwhelming when you first arrive. (When did you ever hear me complain about that? Never.) And the fonts might need to be bumped up a tad.

LifeTwo is the brainchild of two gents who seem to be having a pretty good time with their lives:
Oh yeah. We are Wesley Hein and Greg Yorke. We have been involved in building online and media companies for many years.
Here's what intrepid investigative Woodward-has-nothing-on-me reporter Chuck has found out:
Wesley Hein
Founder or co-founder of numerous venture back organizations and consultant to others. Co-founder & president of Enigma Records (acquired by EMI), EVP Hollywood Records (Walt Disney Company), co-founder Cinebase Software (acquired by Corbis), CEO LogicTier, co-founder Enigma Digital (acquired by Clear Channel Communications), and principal of Enigma2 Consulting (with clients in cable television, entertainment industry print design, and web 2.0 community development).

Greg Yorke
Current: CFO at Blackbelt TV
Past: CFO at Toonacious Family Entertainment
VP Finance at Clear Channel Interactive/Enigma Digital
VP Finance at Synctrix
For two 3.0 hi-tech biz whizzes (so much so that I couldn't figure out how to download or link to their logo for this posting), their business plan is an enigma - at least to me. But what do I know? They're obviously hyped-up and ready to take on all challengers.

It's good to see a new web site for Baby Boomers that is lighter on the aspiration and heavier on the content. The right mix. And no smiling, vapid Baby Boomers on the beach. It gets an A+ for that.