28 February 2007

Bye-Bye, Forth & Towne

Gap Inc. announced plans yesterday to shutter its Forth & Towne division, which catered to women ages 35 and older … Forth & Towne was launched 18 months ago in New York and Chicago to much fanfare as a place for fashion-conscious baby boomers to shop …
Well, so long. I hope it wasn’t something I said.
"Forth & Towne was a great test of a promising concept and an illustration of the innovative risks you need to take in our business," said Bob Fisher, chairman and interim chief executive at Gap Inc.
Innovative risks? He’s got that right.

27 February 2007

My 90 Seconds of Fame Redux Redux Redux Redux

Read the original post from December, '06.

On The History Channel and sponsored by AARP:

Our Generation : Toys of a Generation

Airs on Friday March 02 12:00 PM
Airs on Friday March 02 06:00 PM
Airs on Sunday March 04 08:30 AM
Airs on Saturday March 10 08:00 AM

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.

26 February 2007

Barron's "Geezer Power"

----- Original Message -----
From: *********
To: nyrenagency@
Sent: Saturday, February 24, 2007 8:06 AM
Subject: Boomer cover story in Barron's mag this week, fyi


I came across your blog and thought I’d send an fyi re: this week’s cover story in Barron’s magazine.

“The Last Laugh” (alternate headline: “Geezer Power”) describes how “for years, 18-to-49-year-olds have been marketers’ darlings. But an historic shift in spending power will force a change…” and firms like Estee Lauder, Starwood, Walgreen, Whole Foods will benefit.

We made the article a free feature this week, so sites and bloggers can link to it and discuss. URL and excerpts are below.

PR Director, Barron’s

Barron’s Magazine cover story, 2/26 issue: The Last Laugh


...Every eight seconds, an American turns 50. Last year, the first boomers -- members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 -- turned 60. That's likely to send consumer and investment dollars flooding to a number of companies…Estee Lauder, Starwood, Walgreen, Whole Foods and other firms will benefit.

The mighty AARP, which dropped the word "retired" from its name a few years ago and became simply an acronym, now has 38 million members -- and expects that number to hit 50 million in the next five years. "This is a pivotal moment," says Bill Novelli, 65, the group's Washington, D.C.-based chief. "All these boomers are coming into their mature years, and have more longevity than ever.

That's apparently news to some people in the advertising, entertainment and media worlds… Says John Kottmann, director of strategic planning for McCann Erickson: "Twenty-five to 54 is still a very traditional market for many products. Media really lives and dies based on its appeal to 18-to-34-year-olds, and, increasingly, younger [age groups]." On average, a prime-time TV show that caters to a 35-to-49-year-old audience can get 30% more per advertising minute than one that caters to people 55 and above.

Good to see that Barron’s is on top of all this. However, I don’t have much to ‘discuss’ about it. There’s really nothing new here. I’ve been writing about this subject for years – in articles, my book (the publishers sent the updated 2nd Edition paperback to the printers on Friday – so it should be out in a month), this blog. Others blogging and writing about marketing and advertising to this demographic include Brent Green, Matt Thornhill, David Wolfe, Dick Stroud, Kevin Lavery, and Mary Furlong.

I'm guessing more than a few of the above will roll their eyes at the tired, insulting graphic and lede:
The aging baby-boom generation, which bared it all at Woodstock, plans to live it up -- and has the cash to do it. Pulte, Walgreen, AMN Health and other firms will benefit. Marketers, mend thy ways.

Does it look familiar?

Typical, ignorant nonsense. Read every other post of mine to dispel this myth.

Nowadays many of us write about how to reach Baby Boomers with marketing and advertising. It’s already a given that companies should be targeting this demo.

But the article is worth a read. At least it's nice to have Barron’s catch up with validate what we’ve been saying all these years.

21 February 2007

Dove Pro-Age Campaign

This'll be my third post about Dove Pro-Age. It's not because I'm obsessed with attractive, naked Baby Boomer women (although I am) - but because this may end up being a watershed campaign.

While we won't be seeing the spot on TV, the rest of the world will be. However, the print ads are in some ways even better. A few grabs from my book:
  • Contrary to popular myth, Baby Boomers do not believe that they are still teenagers or young adults …
  • Boomers are slyly redefining what it means to be the ages they are. Included in this new definition are some youthful attitudes, but the real change is that instead of winding down, many are winding up …
  • There is a big difference between thinking you are younger than you are, and not thinking that you are old. This "night and day" distinction may confuse many pundits, but it does not confuse most Boomers …
  • Baby Boomers do not want to be twenty again, or thirty again. They want to feel as good as they possibly can for the ages they are. They do not want to be marketed and advertised to as if they were young adults or thirty-somethings ...
  • In fact, Baby Boom women are the real age revolutionaries. Many are feeling very empowered, very alive, and ready to take on the world. While they could do without some of the wrinkles and some of the aches, ask most women over forty if they would like to live their twenties and thirties all over again, and they'll say, "No thanks. I'm happier and more productive now than I have ever been." …
  • So if an advertising agency tells you "when you target 19-to-35-year-olds, you likewise reach Baby Boomers," they are sadly out of touch with one of the largest and certainly the richest market segment today ...
Seems like I was conjuring up the The Dove Pro-Age campaign two and a half years ago.

One of the major reasons it all works is because of Annie Leibovitz. While she's much, much more, Ms. Leibovitz can certainly be described as the quintessential Baby Boomer creative. (And a very hands-on CEO was deeply involved in the campaign.)

Bring 50+ creatives back into the fold (and/or find new ones), and you may end up with similar results: a revolutionary campaign that resonates with your target market.

19 February 2007

Food fights, Balloons and Dancing Gorillas

“Every time I swear I'll never again be shocked or saddened by a TV commercial ruining a treasured rock anthem, another proves me wrong.”
I could’ve said that. But someone else did first. Read Jim DeRogatis’ piece in the Chicago Sun-Times:
Punk pitchmen
First, Iggy Pop had a lust for cruise life, and now what do i get from The Buzzcocks? An AARP ad ... No matter what the genre -- pop-punk or hip-hop, classic rock or dance-pop -- the best bands work long and hard to create a complete identity, considering every aspect of how their songs are written, recorded, packaged and sold. When they sell their music to a commercial, they cede control to an advertising director, and they take their chances.

I’ve blogged about this numerous times: here and here and here and here.

In the 1st Edition of my book published over two years ago I also talk about it. In the 2nd Edition paperback (it’ll be out soon) I prattle on and on about it some more – and in one section, with a different slant:

Purely anecdotal: I’m watching TV. I hear a tune I haven’t heard in thirty-five, forty years. My mind goes off into the ether. “Wow. What a great song. I’d forgotten all about it. I had the album. The cover was blue . . . And there were a bunch of other great songs on that album. What the hell were they? I can’t remember . . . I wonder if I can get it on Amazon. There’s probably only a compilation of his hits, or a boxed set. But I just want the CD of the album. I’ll have to remember to check the next time I’m online ..”

By then, the commercial is over. In fact, probably three other commercials are over. I have no idea what the product is, or what any of the other products are. *
As far as AARP …

I just don’t know what to do with their ad campaigns. The Party/Buzzcocks one makes no sense. I haven’t a clue what the point of it is. I hope Mr. DeRogatis’ take on it isn’t correct - or I’m staying home and locking the doors and windows if I ever retire:
"The message of the AARP ad is that life will be one big, happy birthday party for retiring Baby Boomers, complete with food fights, balloons and dancing gorillas."

Here’s another AARP ad that has its heart in the right place, understands Baby Boomers wanting to leave a legacy to their grandchildren (again, I’ve talked about this numerous times) - but the spot is so mannered, so hokey, so "Let's put adult thoughts and words into the mouths of children - it'll be so touching and so profound." Good idea, bad execution:

If you must know, it was Donovan's "Catch The Wind."

15 February 2007

Advertisers Zeroing in on Wrong Audience

Richard L. Conner, editor and publisher of Pennsylvania’s Times Leader, pens a piece that sounds like it was lifted from my book:
Advertisers zeroing in on wrong audience
Advertisers want dudes, though — not boomers ... And dudes fall within the 18-to34-year-old category that advertisers covet. Actually, dudes are near the precipice of the group, closer to 35 than to 18, which means that when they step over the 34-year-old line, they fall from favor. Unless you happen to be selling Depends … The biggest advertising buys are made out of agencies in cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles — all places where hip young people live … These hipsters at the big ad agencies are targeting themselves when they should be going after Mom and Dad.
I’d sue The Times Leader for plagiarism – except most of what I say in my book is pretty much common sense – just like in Mr. Conner’s article. (Suing for plagiarizing common sense … common sense tells me that might not fly.)


See if you can make it to Walter Kirn’s commentary in The New York Times Magazine before it vanishes behind the Orange Curtain:
Here, There and Everywhere
I was standing in an airport security line when I spotted an advertisement for Rolodexes printed across the bottom of the tub into which I was about to set my shoes. The ad bewildered me for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t expect to see it there (even though, by now, I should have, since researchers estimate that the average city dweller is exposed to 5,000 ads per day, up from 2,000 per day three decades ago). The second and greater mystery, however, was why a major company would want me to associate its product with the experience of being searched. Rolodex — the official corporate sponsor of airport paranoia.
So ... in show biz parlance, what does it mean when something 'lays an egg'?

13 February 2007


Kind of a yucky name, Grandboomers. I’ve heard worse, and shall spare you.

But as with just about everything, Baby Boomers are redefining what grandparents are supposed to be – and do. Such troublemakers…

I didn’t quite get to this subject in the 2nd Edition paperback of my book (due out in about a month), but it’s quite a phenomenon. Marketers are now targeting Baby Boomer grandparents for all sorts of things. GRAND Magazine has ads for the normal fare (vacations, pharmaceuticals) but you’ll also find ones for children's toys, books, and educational products (lots of them) — and female arousal fluids. I’ve yet to see any ads for knitting needles or support hose. The magazine is also running a Sexiest Celebrity Grandparent contest – not such an oxymoron if you check out my previous post.

A few months ago I blogged about a campaign that doesn’t target Baby Boomers but thinks it does, and linked to this article in The Houston Chronicle:
Grand-scale grandparents
"Boomers think their grandkids are too programmed, and they're looking to stir things up."
Over the weekend I stumbled on this piece in The Miami Herald:


The article is a bit shticky – but you know how newspaper folks are every so often (usually on weekends) – they get bored with the facts and try to be funny.

And what facts they are for marketers and advertisers. Take heed.

08 February 2007

Best Commercial Not On The Superbowl

Because it's from the UK.


The Dove Pro-Age campaign.

(But where are the peace signs, Baby Boomers acting like idiotic teenagers, and 60s Rock in the music bed?)

What do the models think about all this? Read about it in The Daily Mail:
The artist and alternative therapist, who lives in London, said: "Women my age are repeatedly told to fight the ageing process and so we start to believe there is age limit to certain things.

"Eventually we give into this view and begin to see, feel and look older. However, I know many women in their 50's and 60's who look amazing and I applaud their tenacity.

"We are, after all, children of the 1960's, a generation determined to achieve anything. It really is time to change the limited view presented by the media and I'm proud to be part of it."

Athena Uslander, aged 51, who owns a commercial bakery in Chicago, said: "People just see us as over the hill, but that's just not true.

"You can travel, you have disposable income and the whole world is open to you when you're older, so I think it's just the beginning of life."

Mirinete Morrison, aged 54, from London who has three daughters aged 18, 24 and 26, said: "If your heart is beautiful, your skin is beautiful, you are beautiful."

07 February 2007

Neighborhood Design, Universal Design

Bob Moos of the Dallas Morning News has been on a housing tear with his last few articles.

The first one is about Baby Boomers fashioning their own neighborhood communities:
Cohousing catching on in U.S.
Cohousing communities aren't cookie-cutter projects. Each is unique. Prospective residents are intimately involved in the planning, though they may rely on an architect and developer to handle the technical aspects of design and construction. Projects usually consist of 20 to 30 households … The latest twist to the nascent trend is cohousing exclusively for people 55 and older.
And it's a twist on what Brent Green talks about in Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers. But I'm not getting into it here. Read the book or track him down and ask him.

The second article is about universal design and aging in place:
Couple's house is home for good
Incorporating universal design in a home under construction is far less expensive than modifying it later … "Why not spend a few thousand more to build an age-friendly bath now and save yourself the $20,000 to retrofit it later?"
This is a big issue with just about everybody in the housing industry. I wrote something about it not too long ago - and spoke about universal design at last year's NAHB convention.

UD is coming. It's just too early for most Baby Boomers to consider it. However, many are missing the boat now if they happen to be designing their forever dream house. Without some serious nods to universal design, in ten years they might find themselves living in their forever nightmare house.

05 February 2007

Mary Furlong's Turning Silver Into Gold

This week Mary Furlong’s Turning Silver Into Gold: How to Profit in The New Boomer Marketplace will finally be released. I’ve been diving into my Advance Reader Copy over and over for almost a month – mostly because it’s so much fun to paddle and splash around in. This is no dry, static business tome. It churns and whirls.

Mary has put together a book that no one else could have. For over twenty years she’s been deeply immersed in academia, the internet, and the real world of business. Few can claim to be a specialist in all three. Add to this her two-decade+ focus on aging – and now on Baby Boomers. This isn’t a book anyone could just throw together with a bunch of haphazard research and a cavalier keyboard. Mary lives it.

The quick version of what TSIG is: Hundreds of companies targeting Baby Boomers are profiled. If you have any interest in Boomers and business and all the opportunities, this is what you need to read. You’ll find out what’s going on. It’s that simple.

From Kirkus Reviews:
Boomers have concerns and interests including health, investing, entertainment and travel, sexuality, entrepreneurship and technology, religion and spirituality and a vast array of philanthropic and social commitments. The title's silver may mean hair color, but the gold represents wisdom as well as wealth, "and how they will transform their financial worth into good works." … Furlong displays a genuine grasp of boomer sensibilities, especially those of decency and happiness and the common good; when she speaks of value added, it is not just the markup but how the product or service adds to the pleasure of living right and well.
Let me add to the above: Mary has this wonderful egalitarian approach to business. When she talks about companies, small biz entrepreneurs get as much ink as the multi-nationals. In her eyes, they’re equals.

Along with Turning Silver Into Gold, Mary co-sponsors The What's Next Boomer Business Summit – an annual event. This year it’s in Chicago, on March 5th and 6th. She also hosts The $10,000 Boomer Business Plan Competition and Boomer Venture Summit, usually in the early summer. I was at the first of each in 2004 (a combined event), and the Boomer Business Summit in 2006 (where I hosted a table at The Authors' Luncheon). They were all great.

Editorial reviews and more about Mary Furlong's Turning Silver Into Gold on Amazon.com.

03 February 2007

New Dove Real Beauty Spots in England

Go read Dick Stroud's post about the Dove Real Beauty television campaign in England. (This is where the campaign originated, by the way.)

I love all this mature women stuff. And I'll be blunt. And piggy. (And "Sure, Chuck. In your dreams.") As far as interesting and sexy, I'd be all over Helen Mirren or this Dove model and not all over Paris Hilton or Britney Spears or name them all. (Although Scarlett Johansson is kind of cute.)