22 December 2007
21 December 2007
40 Million ‘Green Boomers’ In U.S.The same old, same old:
Forty million boomers use their purchasing power to buy environmentally safe brands, according to a survey from AARP Services and Focalyst.
Green boomers are more attuned to advertising, both positively and negatively. They pay attention to ads for products they plan to buy, but are more critical and therefore are more likely to believe there is not much truth in advertising. They also wish that advertising included more real product information to help make decisions.How long have I been saying that? I wrote articles about it four years ago, must have posted about it here twenty times over the last 2½ years, usually spend a good ten minutes on it during my presentations – and this info is in both editions of my book, first published almost three years ago.
Brent Green also has been writing about it for years. (He’s really Mr. “Green Boomer” and knows more about it than I do.)
Green boomers are watching less television, but are spending more time with print media, such as reading newspapers, magazines and books (95 minutes vs. 78 minutes per day).Again, I’ve talked about this until green in the face. For years. Print is still a powerful media for advertising to Baby Boomers.
But this did surprise me:
Boomers with annual incomes of less than $50,000 are more “green” than boomers with incomes of over $150,000 (57% vs. 50%).I guess those former yuppies (now called oupies: old urban professionals) do drive around in big SUVs, fill them up with pallets of plastic-bottled water from box stores, and haul them back to their McMansions where the monthly utility bills must be in the low four figures.
Then factor in the tens of millions of Boomers who kept their ideals through the 1960s to the present, eschewed the big bucks, became teachers, employees of government agencies, opened up low-profit socially-conscience businesses, etc. A highly educated bunch.
So it makes sense.
13 December 2007
And I think I've even said that already. I'm sick of saying I'm sick of it.
But I stumbled upon Zac Bissonnette's take on it all at Bloggingstocks.com. He's one smart fellow:
Is the commercialization of the sixties something to mourn?Unless a flake or two in every box of Total has a dollop of Owsley's best on it, I'm not buyin' into any of this nonsense.
Should the baby boomers -- or at least those who were part of this movement -- be upset? I think so. What was supposed to be a powerful force for change has been reduced to nostalgia -- in the middle of a war in Iraq that bears striking similarities to the one hippies worked so hard to end. It's as if corporate America has forgotten the substance of the message and used the pretty flowers to sell insurance ... what's really happened is that the controversial elements are now long and forgotten, and we're left with what is essentially a sanitized white bread version of a movement that was supposed to go against all that.
08 December 2007
Will Baby Boomers scarf down Jitterbugs? I doubt it - although there are markets for a simple, easy-to-handle, easy-to-figure-out phone.
My assessment (and being the muddle-headed, evil moral-relativist I am, the good and the bad aren't mutually exclusive):
The real issue: Marketers assuming that if you're over fifty you're automatically a member of one and only one age demographic - all with the same needs and wants.* While some Boomers will like the Jitterbug, most will turn their noses up at this product.
- Those numbers and buttons are big - I can see them.
- I like the padding. Makes it easy to hear.
- It's comfy to hold. Like a real phone. Not like a lumpy Lego.
- Some people just want a phone.
- Those numbers and buttons are big - like a toy phone.
- Boomers are tech-savvy, demand choices. Just because you don't text or maybe enjoy getting away from email and the the web while out and about doesn't mean you don't want those options.
- No pictures or video? How will you instantly see your granddaughter smiling at you? Or watch your grandson actually splashing around in the bathtub almost live, sort of like 'instant replay'? Or ogle a video from your friend you're jealous of because she's at a concert you're not because the tickets were $250 a pop - and there is that old rock group, right on stage, banging guitars, screaming into microphones, long silver hair wagging away? I'll sound like a Hallmark Card here - but these are moments to cherish …
- The calling plans are expensive and cheesy.
However, a lot of Boomers are pivot-spenders. They might buy Jitterbugs for their less tech-obsessed parents. And how about a Jitterbug for that three-to-ten year old grandchild? A one-button direct line to GrandBooma and GrandBoompa? Then, who knows - after playing with it a bit they might like it and buy one for themselves.
Or simply position it as ... a phone. For anybody of any age who just wants, oddly enough, a phone.
What'll happen unless the Jitterbug folks get wise: The Jitterbug concept will influence other cell phone manufacturers and service providers. Easy-to-read, easy-to-manipulate phones will be developed - but with more features. And the Jitterbug will go the way of … well … the Jitterbug.
Things should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. - Albert Einstein
* And what do you do when the usually perceptive and entertaining David Pogue of The New York Times does even worse, referring to "the over-40 set" as if we're all the same, calling us "technophobic old people"? No wonder most marketers and advertisers are clueless.
More posts about the Jitterbug Phone:
01 December 2007
Tech giants target older buyers - and their cashWhat fresh insight. Here's the pull-quote on the cover of the 1st edition of my book:
"Today's older generation is primed to buy and consume new technologies like no previous group of seniors," says David Kelly, president of technology research company Upside Research.
That's from late 2004.
Even my friend Matt, quoted in the USA Today piece, must be getting tired of saying:
"Any company wanting to grow their business in the next 10 years better have a strategy for marketing to those 50-plus," warns Matt Thornhill, founder of baby-boomer-focused market research company Boomer Project.In 2005 I was a guest on The Advertising Show. You can listen to it - although it's pretty long. What's funny is that someone was on recently and simply repeated everything I said - as if it were all new stuff discovered by his company.
Merely the same old, same old - over and over again.
It's time to move on from the Why to the How. That's what I focus on in my presentations, consulting work - and the revised edition of the book.
24 November 2007
Tourism campaign featuring ugly, chatty aliens draws criticsOr maybe I've seen just one too many commercials in my life. I'm jaded. I think this one's dull and unoriginal. Aliens instead of Cavemen yakking it up as if they're just average joes.
For weeks now, a contentious debate has raged among tourism officials here over a new state-financed advertising campaign aimed at attracting vacationers. Instead of highlighting New Mexico's picturesque desert landscapes, art galleries or centuries-old culture, the ads feature drooling, grotesque office workers from outer space chatting about their personal lives …
… to increasingly vocal critics, the ad campaign is strategically clumsy and a possible threat to the well-being of the state's $5.1 billion tourism industry. In other words, while the ads may yield a chuckle or two, the joke is on New Mexico …
… Dale Lockett, president of the state's largest convention and visitors bureau in Albuquerque, addressed the issue at a statewide conference last month … At a keynote luncheon, Lockett told the creators of the ads ... that their handiwork, while innovative, appeals to the wrong audience. Why, Lockett wondered, was the state targeting its centerpiece ad campaign to a younger crowd at the precise moment when the bulk of baby boomers nationwide are reaching the age when they have time and money to travel?
Yuk, yuk, yawn.
16 November 2007
Being the magnanimous fellow he is, in my mailbox the other day I found a small package from him. He'd tossed the takes of Yours Truly onto a CD.
Yesterday I cobbled together a video using Microsoft Movie Maker - so don't expect too much. It's simply a promotional tool for speaking gigs - to complement this. I purposely made it teasing - not giving much away:
15 November 2007
So goes Boom! - a book about his experiences in (more or less) the 1960s. Mr. Brokaw was around a lot of influential folk from all over the cultural and political map. Most of it is insider stuff and fun to read. Early in his career he covered what is arguably the most important movement of the decade - Civil Rights - and his points of view and personal profiles of the individuals he knew were for me the most interesting and vital chapters.
Brokaw comes pretty close to defining the 'generation' (or at least the era that he's covering) the same way I do. As I state in the intro to this blog - it's a diverse, unwieldy group. After reading Boom! you'll consider that an understatement.
Boom! has been criticized for leaning too much on the remembrances and evaluations of famous and influential people - but those were the people Mr. Brokaw knew. It's what I expected. After all, the subtitle is Personal Reflections on The Sixties and Today. Perhaps the problem is that Boom! is being perceived and/or touted as the book about the 1960s. Of course it's not. It's one of many, with many more to come.
The more you know about your target market, the better. So I'll recommend Boom! to anybody interested in advertising and marketing to Baby Boomers - along with Len Steinhorn's The Greater Generation: In Defense of The Baby Boom Legacy. (And there are dozens of others.)
Janet Maslin's Review of Boom! in The New York Times.
10 November 2007
ENCORE LEADERSHIP INTERVIEW: David Galenson on Old Masters and Young GeniusesI blogged about this book over a year ago. It parallels much of what I say in my not-so-brief A Brief History of Advertising Creatives section I usually include in my presentations. Most people are shocked when I explain to them (with loads of examples) that many, many of the great creatives did their best work later in life.
It turns out the baby boomers who wanted to change the world in the '60s may not be the same ones who will change the world in their 60s. It is the persistent experimenters who are coming to the fore in the second half of their lives, and are emerging from the shadow of the fiery radicals and bold activists who defined the baby boomers four decades ago. Same generation, but different kinds of people.
Will the advertising industry change their ways in order to reach Baby Boomers more effectively? Who knows. If they don't, it'll be the clients who will suffer.
Again, I'll leave you with a quote from Rosser Reeves:
"No, I don't think a 68-year-old copywriter can write with the kids. That he's as creative. That he's as fresh. But he may be a better surgeon. His ad may not be quite as fresh and glowing as the Madison Ave. fraternity would like to see it be, and yet he might write an ad that will produce five times the sales. And that's the name of the game, isn't it?"
05 November 2007
An In-Depth Interview With Jann WennerThe above reflects a lot of what I've been saying about magazines for Baby Boomers - along with how to position them on the racks and on the web.
BW: Do you worry about the future of magazines as a medium?
JW: No. I don't.
BW: At all.
JW: No. Reading is not going away. There are things that magazines do better than other mediums and you just have to do that and do it better than ever. There are so many media choices out there now in the world-Internet, other magazines, blah blah blah blah--that if you don't do a really, really good job, if you're just half-assed, why bother? The audience is just gonna wander away. If you do it really well, you hold onto the audience and you build real value. It has to be meaningful. It can't be casual [expletive]. It has to be meaningful, in some way, in peoples' lives and do things that magazines do really well, [like] photography and editing. I've seen so many magazines trying to imitate Web sites in their redesigns, of doing all these little bits and pieces, and it's like, if you do it correctly, and you can broaden the depth of the experience. That’s what you can bring to peoples’ lives, beyond what’s on the printed page--if you do it correctly ...
Every week someone emails me about magazines:
"Is there a magazine for Baby Boomers?"
"I want to start a magazine for Boomers."
"I have a product and want to advertise in a magazine for Baby Boomers."
"I'm a writer in my 50s (or 60s) and I want to write for a magazine that targets Baby Boomers. Are there any?"
Yeah. In Europe.
And if Mr. Wenner is correct, we probably won't be seeing anything like the emergence of a Rolling Stone - meaning, a grass-roots magazine - ever:
JW: It is very, very tough. Tougher than ever. If you were to start a new [successful] magazine today, you'd have to have the backing of major publishing company. Have there been any? Other than little tiny things?
02 November 2007
Boomers Logging On
I guess they’re playing catch-up.
Two TV spots getting a lot of press:
Dylan’s Cad commercial is, as you might guess, an oddball one. I don’t mind it because it’s not pandering or nostalgic. It’s Ol’ Bob today – embedded with new(er) music. Sure, the spot harkens back to one of his great pieces (directed by D.A. Pennebaker) – but it’s not junky like this. And he’s promoting his radio show. Smart guy.
People are arguing about whether Mr. Dylan has ‘sold out’. In fact, for the last forty-odd years any time he’s done anything that’s always been the main question. It’s a major, major concern among many. However, being in advertising, I often worry about the products. Did Fender (electric) Guitars sell out by letting Bob play one?
And Geico’s Chatty Cathy is just funny, clever - not nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake.
28 October 2007
The gentleman was Mark Tungate - and somehow or other I'd 'won' a copy of his book ADLAND. And I wanted it. I'm a sucker for any sort of history of advertising (as attendees of my presentations know, for I make them suffer through my own skewed, polemical version of it).
He was ready to send a copy - but I proposed a counteroffer: let's meet in Paris and exchange books.
I got the better deal.
Mark Tungate, I find out after our brief rendezvous at Bayard Presse, after returning home and reading his book, after jumping on the web and scurrying around, after emailing a few friends in France and England, is a heavyweight in the ad world. He's written a bunch of books, loads of articles for advertising and general interest magazines, has a TV talk show. He puts together the text for an 'everybody in the industry has to pour over it every year' annual overview of European advertising.
When we met, I had just finished a presentation, was tired, dizzy from adrenaline de-rush, and fumbling around. My more-significant-than-I-am other was with us and, I could tell, became more and more annoyed that I wasn't paying attention. She's smarter than I.
ADLAND: A Global History of Advertising is a worthy successor to my favorite history of advertising tome, The Mirror Makers by Stephen Fox. And, as the title says, it's not U.S. myopic.
What did I know already while reading ADLAND? Most of the U.S. stuff, maybe a little less than half of the U.K. stuff, a smidgeon about France, a dollop about Italy (actually more, since I worked on an Italian brand for a few years and had done some research), zip about Japan (except that Dentsu has a big building and they love to fly over American movie stars and pay them an absurd amount of money to hold up bottles of whatever - although according to Mark that silliness has run its course), zip about Spain, a little about Brazil and South America. I knew a lot but also learned a lot about the 1990s creative revolution in Amsterdam.
Then there is the obvious: Mark Tungate is an accomplished writer - so here's a business/history book wonderfully conceived and composed and fun to read. How often do you find that to be true?
Likewise no surprise to me: ADLAND has been selected as a classroom resource by The Advertising Educational Foundation. Which means that that Tungate has joined the advertising book-writing immortals such as Lawrence, Dusenberry, Fallon, Roberts, Nyren …..
??? Who??? What the **** is he doing on that list?
The company keeps getting better.
Update: Listen to Mark's interview on The Advertising Show (scroll to the sound files)
24 October 2007
Outsmart the MBA ClonesMy brother is the marketing manager for a pretty good-sized irrigation company, and is always telling me horror stories about MBAs marching in (just like on the cover) and mucking up everything.
Why is so much of today's marketing, strategy, and branding alike? … Most marketers, brand managers, and competitive strategists are MBA graduates who think and operate in a typical manner--you might call them MBA Clones. This book will show you the tools and rules to outsmart your competitors' predicable MBA-Clone marketing …
I haven't read Outsmart the MBA Clones - but reviews of a few other books may be coming:
One tome is a real treat.
Another may be reviewed because I'm on 'the list' of a few PR/Publicity firms. I usually say "No", but for this one I said "Maybe" - meaning they can send it, if I like it I'll review it, and if I don't I'll ignore it.
20 October 2007
Retirement Can Wait - Baby Boomers contemplate a variety of work optionsNot quite endless. Here's an email from someone who ...
According to a recent survey, eight in ten baby boomers plan to continue working in their retirement years. That's about 76 million fifty-something workers with no intention of quitting anytime soon ... Baby boomers are likely to be extremely adept at industry switching because of their diverse backgrounds and the fact that they are better educated than previous generations. The first step will be getting over the anxiety associated with change. After that, the opportunities for further career development are endless.
Let's just say that if I mentioned the campaigns he worked on in the 1970s and 1980s, you'd be very impressed:
Chuck,So what's the alternative? Here's another (expurgated) email:
I know you are onto something regarding the Baby Boomer business … I wonder if there is a way for existing ad agencies to embrace this potential …There are a lot of other boomers who a) see age discrimination and/or b) wonder why the largest advertisers or agencies are not "getting it" ...
I have submitted my resume to the top 100 ad agencies and have received not a word. The people I know basically tell me that the agencies are looking only for young people. - Former Art Director, Grey Advertising
Hi Chuck.Sounds good to me. Of course, he has no other options.
I'll try to keep this as short as possible ... Like you, I'm a copywriter/creative director/baby boomer.
I started my career at Doyle Dane Bernbach (when Bill Bernbach was still there), and have worked at Chiat/Day, BBDO, Ogilvy, FCB, and Dentsu. (During a phone chat a few days later, he mentioned that at his last job he was 'let go' when he turned fifty.) I was talking about it with my friend/art director/business partner, and found myself thinking that it would be interesting to start an "agency" that exclusively targeted baby boomers … At any rate, we recently got our first account … and I'm excitedly thinking we're on to something. Your company and book certainly help confirm that.
And what about all those big agencies telling their clients that they are prepared to target the 50+ demographic? Should the advertisers believe them? And if they do - should the agencies, when creating campaigns, trust their guts?
Being a lightning rod for all things Boomer and Advertising, I'm forever amazed at the backwardness of the advertising industry. Will it ever catch up with the rest of the business world? Who knows.
13 October 2007
12 October 2007
Hampton Pearson was the host/reporter. He's actually a fun fellow, very down to earth behind that biz persona. We had a wonderful chat on the phone - and again the next day in the studio.
It was a good segment - however, when it aired I noticed that, through the magic of editing, some of my comments were taken a bit out of context. But what's new. Although I said what I said, I didn't really say it about what the report said I said it about.
It actually made me feel very important - like some Democratic presidential candidate being quoted in a segment on Fox News. Or like being inserted into some gag on The Daily Show.
The biggest surprise for me was when Hampton (on the phone, the day before) said, "We'll have you and one other guest in this segment." Then we talked a bit about what I was going to say - and before we hung up, and just out of mild curiosity, I asked who the other guest would be. "Jerry Della Femina," he said.
I gagged. Chuck and Jerry. Pretty funny. This fellow is a hero of mine. He's a legend. He wrote one of my favorite books about advertising. What the **** am I doing on the same show as this guy?
I play loud blues electric guitar. So put me on a show with Eric Clapton. I have bunches to say about blues guitar playing - and if Eric wants to slip in a few words, let him.
I just checked the CNBC web site and don't see the segment. I'll check again in a few days and if it's available I'll link to it - even though I didn't quite say what I said.
I'm not sure if Mr. Della Femina said what he said. You'll have to ask him. But being the selfless sort, I'm happy for him that he had the chance to be on a television news segment with me, and got to say whatever he may or may not have said.
11 October 2007
Among other things, Arjan in't Veld heads up InTheField Marketing en communicatie and runs the Mokka Marketing Blog. One of his clients is PLUS Magazine. Arjan has been helping with the redesign and implementation of their web site - adding interactive sections like this one.
View the site through Babble Fish to get an idea of what's being done (although don't completely trust the quirky translation).
The Mature Market Interview with Arjan in't Veld.
Martijn de Haas and Michel van den Bosch own the marketing firm Active Development:
Active Development is a consultancy/participating company in the marketing and communication to the 50+ market. We advise and/or participate in efforts of companies in entering the market and effectively reaching the 50+ consumers. This could be in thinking up new marketing strategies, new communication, online activities, and product development. We have a growing database of 50+ consumers who are providing us information in all these activities and who are actively taking part in our panels.Here is Active Development - and their Fair - stuffed in the Babble Fish meat grinder.
We have developed a small local fair called "the fair for people who enjoy life", or short in Dutch "de Levensgenietersbeurs": www.levensgenietersbeurs.nl
This a fair that is held in relatively big cities in Holland and holds about 30 exhibits. The textual marketing is ageless but the target is attracting the 50+ consumer who has money to spend on luxury articles. From our experience and backed-up by psychological research we found that as people get older they tend to value local socials networks more and more. They want to build close relationships with local entrepreneurs who give them optimal service and a feeling of being a 'friend' rather than a customer.
We can learn a lot from the Dutch about how to market to the 50+ demo. In some areas they're way ahead of us.
02 October 2007
I guess you don't need a play-by-play. It was a success, Carol Orsborn and Brent Green were a notch above top-notch, our hosts treated us like Royalty everywhere we went, and my more-significant-than-I-am other had the time of her life as tourist and part-time nanny for the three prima donnas.
Carol is blogging about it all, so keep up with her musings. I'm sure Brent will also have a bunch to say when he returns and has some time.
I'll skip the travelogue, and only mention business stuff. The two most impressive things for me in Europe:
1) These incredibly dedicated, talented, hard-working, creative people I met, socialized, and worked with from all the companies, all the PLUS Magazines (along with Vi Over 60 and Notre Temps). I'm still reeling from being around such energy and artistry.A few bloggers have commented (but you may have a tough time reading their posts) - and the feedback from the attendees has been positive and enlightening. I still haven't answered all of them - and they keep piling into my inbox.
2) The 50+ Fair in Utrecht, Netherlands. Impossible to describe. Attendance over five days was just shy of 100,000. Almost 600 exhibits/booths. Seriously - I can't describe it. It was like everything I've been talking about for the last five years physically washing over and overwhelming me. The web site also doesn't do it justice. It can't. You had to be there.
12 September 2007
Also interviewed was Todd Harff of Creative Results - a colleague and leading expert on marketing adult communities.
The article should be available online for a few weeks. All in all, it's a good one:
Immersion experience sheds light on seniorsI'll stand by my quotes - although a few were slight misquotes and taken a bit out of context.
Market researcher Bob Fell, 43, wanted to know what it's like to live in a retirement community, so he spent August at Garden Spot Village in Lancaster County. The ground-level research is part of his company's efforts to become a national leader on how to market to people 55 and older.
This will be my last post for two or three weeks. I'm off to Europe for a speaking and consulting tour. If you email or call don't expect a response until early October.
When I return to the ether, no doubt there will be stories to tell …
08 September 2007
I’ve written about this subject ad nauseam - here, in my book, in articles. Three posts:
Invasion of The Baby Boomer Pod PeopleMatt Thornhill and John Martin of The Boomer Consumer fame (and they’re also famous for a few other things) have put together “The List” of Baby Boomer social networking sites – along with trenchant comments on many of them. It’s not a complete list, and they admit as such. But that’s the point. These silly sites are popping up like mushrooms. There is no way you could ever list them all or find them all. Many have died already, or are in their death throes. (Instead of an obit section like Eons has, I’m thinking of putting up an obit section here for Baby Boomer social networking sites.)
Invasion of the Baby Boomer Pod People Returns
Sleepy Baby Boomer Internet Villages
Here’s the comment I left on The Boomer Consumer Blog post.
Then Peter Himler, numero uno Flack (hey, he describes himself as such – at least the ‘flack’ part – ‘numero uno’ is my description), also talks about social networking sites, and tells a great story about his experiences with one:
Business networking sites - of course, it's simply good business to join some. But as far as general interest social networking sites, when Peter mentions “content and utility” I think he means relevant articles, videos, and new media - along with finding products and services of interest to him.
That's not social networking.
01 September 2007
And a few months ago.
And a few months before that.
The media is all over it all of a sudden. Now the New York Times has caught up:
Bottled Blondes, You Too Can Break FreeI guess what I find interesting is that the NYT web site does a great job cross-referencing articles - meaning, if an article is of interest in more than one section, it's listed in all the appropriate sections. For example, a book about politics would be in the Politics and Book sections.
By Natasha Singer
In an image-obsessed culture predominated by bottled blondes and man-made brunettes, a naturally gray-haired woman can be made to feel that she stands out like dandruff on a dark sweater. So it took some courage for Anne Kreamer, a contributor to More magazine and yahoo.com, to stop coloring her hair three years ago. "Gray hair has been stigmatized to mean sexually old or over, and we all want to maintain attractiveness," said Ms. Kreamer, 51, now the proud owner of a lustrous silver mane.
This article, not surprisingly, is in the Fashion & Style section. But why isn't it cross-referenced in the Business/Advertising Section? The title is Bottled Blondes, You Too Can Break Free. So what's a bottled blonde? Maybe you should ask Shirley Polykoff (if she were alive).
This is a major change in the way mature (Marti Barletta calls them "PrimeTime") women are feeling about themselves. Mary Brown and Carol Orsborn also talk about this subject in their book, BOOM. Quoting Peggy Northrup, Editor of More Magazine:
"When we put attractive, successful women on our covers who look like they are between their late 40s and mid 50s, we sell lots more copies than when we go for the “40, could pass for 32” look. In fact, one of our highest selling issues of the past year had a great looking 53-year-old, gray-haired woman on the cover. You can see the crinkles around her eyes. We have to restrain our photographers from airbrushing these out."I think everybody in the advertising industry should read the article.
25 August 2007
Stockholm: Monday, September 17
Oslo: Tuesday, September 18
Brussels: Wednesday, September 19
Utrecht (The Netherlands): September 20
Augsburg (Germany): September 21
Paris: September 24
Madrid: September 25
Then I'll be in London for a couple of days.