31 May 2007

2007 Boomer Venture Summit

The 2007 Boomer Venture Summit will be an exciting one this year. Some of the speakers I know or know of include:

Mary Furlong (of course).

Paul Kleyman, editor of AgeBeat. He published a piece of mine a few years ago. One of the nicest and smartest guys around.

Mark Miller of 50+ Digital LLC. Mark presented in NYC a few months ago. Yours truly was also on the bill.

Emilio Pardo, Chief Brand Officer, AARP. We mixed it up a bit on the radio recently.

Looks like a great event. I blogged about the last two:

Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit (2005)

The 2006 Boomer Venture Summit

30 May 2007

Unilever Resuscitates the Demo Left for Dead

Yeah, I’ve been feeling a bit like Nostradamus lately.

Here’s a good piece by Ad Age’s Jack Neff:
Published: May 28, 2007
Unilever Resuscitates the Demo Left for Dead
Marketer Spies Goldmine in the Often-Overlooked Baby-Boomer Consumer

When Unilever researchers started looking into the shopping patterns of baby boomers, many of its younger marketing executives wondered why ...

"When we first started launching this project internally, we received e-mails from some of our younger colleagues asking, 'Who cares about these people?'" said Mike Twitty, senior group research manager-shopper insights for Unilever."
Gee. That's a major theme in my book - originally published over two years ago.

More from Mr. Neff’s article:
Stereotypes aside, many boomers are actually early adopters of new technology and switchers to new brands, Ms. Kozin said. "Younger people may be more excited and write about it," she said. "But boomers have the money to spend on it." … And they'll do so, she said, particularly when the communications are geared to them.
I think I’ve read all this before. Click the image on the right to see the pull quote on the cover of the 1st edition of my book.

And about brand switching - a quote from a book review in The Journal of Consumer Marketing (PDF):
A second favorite excuse of agencies is: “Baby Boomers don’t change brands.” Nyren dismantles this excuse nicely with examples of brand switching, and he further acknowledges that in cases where loyalty to a brand does exist, marketers who do not target Boomers give them no reason to change.
I also talk about AARP’s ‘body bags’ in a chapter – but I’m too lazy to go find it and pull some quotes.

Actually, if you read Jack Neff’s piece along with Rance Crain’s piece you don’t need to read my book. (Unless, of course, I’ve predicted bunches of other stuff and you’d like to know the future. Or, you can wait for brand managers, research folks, and CMOs to catch up and be profiled in Ad Age in a few years.)

Here I am at work – with my patented Crystal Ball of Marketing and Advertising Common Sense.

23 May 2007

Disney Does Something Smart

Disney is putting together an interactive video-on-demand travel channel:
The channel will include original programs, including reality shows, episodic programs, concerts and special events highlighting Disney's domestic theme parks in Florida and California as well as its adventure travel business.

The shows will be offered free to viewers and will include interactive features, including the ability to request more information using buttons on the TV remote control.
Good move. I talked about doing long-form commercials over two years ago in my book. The chapter is available as a PDF on The Advertising Educational Foundation's web site.

And here's a fellow speaking about the travel industry and Baby Boomers - mirroring much of what I said over three years ago:
Another key trend in today's travel industry is that tour groups are getting smaller, especially as travelers move toward more special interest activities … Lacy noted that the days of seeing 50 people getting off a motor coach are slowly fading away, and modes of transportation such as RVs, bikes, minivans, trains and planes are becoming just as important.
Below are the first few paragraphs of the article - courtesy of The Way Back Machine:

You'll find a chapter about travel in the 2007 edition of my book. Who knows, I may have predicted a bunch of other stuff. We'll have to wait and see.

P.S. I don't use a crystal ball. Just common sense.

16 May 2007

Music for Grownups?

I was a guest on NPR/WNYC’s Soundcheck this week. It’s a rousing, as-eclectic-as-you-can-get music show hosted by John Schaefer.

No, John did not ask me to play blistering, sloppy, cliché-ridden blues guitar (although I had it plugged in and right next to my phone just in case). The segment was titled “Music for Grownups?” and was about AARP’s new music site. Also on the show was Emilio Pardo, Chief Brand Officer for AARP.

Read about and listen to the segment here.

As is usually the case, AARP’s grab for Baby Boomers is an admixture of good intentions, some top-notch stuff – and cheesy, insulting schlock.

The top-notch stuff includes Music for Grownups - a blog by veteran critic and writer Richard Gehr. Mr. Gehr does a superlative job balancing the esoteric with the middle-of-the-road. It’ll be worth checking in with him from time to time.

Also pretty good is Music Connections (buried – it should be on the opening page). This section profiles well-known artists and longtails them. Not a bad idea – although the original Baby Boomer music longtail is Rhino Records – decades before the term ever existed. If I were producing a music site for Baby Boomers, I’d study the history of Rhino, along with its business/cultural model, and pick up pointers (or partner with them). I'd also check out Shout! Factory - another longtail music/video site birthed by "refugees from the Rhino Records label."

There is a Pandora-driven feature called AARP Jukebox. It's fine, it's business, it's one of the ways new technology companies make money - by partnering with sites like AARP. But as John Schaefer points out during the show, Pandora is Pandora. If you want your Pandora filtered through AARP, do it. But it's nothing that special. (In fact, cookies keep your account the same no matter which site you happen to be on.)

The dreadful cheese includes a Music IQ Test that should have been created by someone with an IQ over fifty (or, I’m guessing, someone over fifty years old). And there is a Paul McCartney Timeline that is so useless and inane – it reminds me of a teen magazine from 1964 (or maybe that’s what it’s supposed to remind me of). Features like this may sink the site.

AARP had an excellent opportunity to promote and brand their organization with an article about Carlos Santana – but they blew it. I clicked the link, and started reading:
At 55, Carlos Santana is at the pinnacle of his artistic and creative career …
At first I thought there was a typo – knowing that Carlos Santana is closer to sixty. I kept reading (it’s a good piece) and at the end talks about his recent album “Supernatural.” That’s when I rolled my eyes. “Supernatural” came out about seven or eight years ago. This was some old article that they’re fobbing off as something new – on their ‘new’ site.

What should they have done? Added this: Here’s a vintage AARP Magazine article from six years ago that is still worth a read. And at the end of the piece they should’ve added something like: Since then, Carlos Santana has recorded two or three albums (info about the albums), has played on albums by (blah, blah, blah), has gone on these many successful world tours, tours with his son, is currently working on an album titled …

Not only are we up to date with fresh information – but AARP has now branded itself as an outlet for music that (little did you know) has a long, distinguished history.

Listen to Music for Grownups? by clicking the start button (the little arrow on the left):

Thanks again to the staff at Soundcheck for inviting me on the show.

10 May 2007

Unilever Press Release

A press release from Unilever:
"The time is long overdue to rethink Baby Boomers …" stated Kevin Havelock, President, Unilever U.S. "With their focus on health and well-being, they want to continue maintaining the vitality they now enjoy. As Boomers age, retailers who'll know how to help them stay vibrant and connected to what they care for most in life will be the winners."
Unilever has the right ad agency - at least for one of their products/campaigns. But how deep will the agency go to fulfill this client's demands and strategy?

Does Unilever use other agencies? How deep will they go?

This deep?

08 May 2007

Wise, Naked Baby Boomers

So I'm clicking every which way over at the NYT Magazine issue ostensibly about Baby Boomers. Some okay articles but no real fresh information.

Lots of people are talking about this piece - but again (like the television station discussed) I really didn't find much new.

The wisdom piece is mildly interesting - although my take is that when you're seven years old I hope you're a bit wiser than when you were six. What the brilliant insights about this are, I'm not sure.

Sara Davidson does a good job interviewing Dr. Robert N. Butler and Lenny Guarente. And there's a video interview. That old saying, "Some people eat to live, others live to eat," is officially obsolete. Now you don't eat to live.

Nora Ephron is, as usual, a funny interviewee.

Then I click on a film titled Naked. The promo copy says, "Ten women and men discuss what sex is like when you're old enough to know better."

Does this mean that they should know better than to discuss it?

07 May 2007

Interview on Growing Bolder Radio

Here’s an interview I did a few months ago on Growing Bolder Radio.

I remember listening to Marc Middleton’s just-a-tad-over-the-top introduction as I waited on the phone - and wondering why I ever deign to talk to mere mortals ....

After that, Marc did a great job making me look (sound) pretty good. I think it's the best radio interview I’ve ever done – and the credit goes to the interviewer. Marc is top notch. He didn’t let me take over the show or get away with much of anything (like what usually happens when I’m on the radio).

And here’s an excellent Growing Bolder chat with Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By. Bill Shafer has joined the show, and he’s another crackerjack interviewer.

Play around over there. You’ll find over one hundred interviews with all sorts of fascinating folks.

01 May 2007

Rance Crain Makes Perfect Sense Yet Again

I don't know Rance Crain - although I've been reading his column for years. I do know that we have at least one mutual business friend.

Here's a post from last month about his article Boomer Boon.

This week his column is even better:
You Know Who's Boss -- Consumers
But Do You Really Know Them Well?

… But what about consumers who feel disconnected? What about blacks and Asians and Hispanics who feel most brands aren't part of their lives, at least as they are filtered through the power structure of today's advertising business?

It makes all the sense in the world for ad makers (both clients and agencies) to be well-stocked with people who understand consumers, whether young people who fathom the mysteries of cyberspace, a good mixture of people who reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our country, and, yes, even older people who understand the vitality and buying power of the great gorge of baby boomers overtaking our land.

Talk about the need for greater diversity in the business largely has fallen on deaf ears. Nobody likes to be told whom they should hire -- unless it can be demonstrated that hiring the right mix of people can improve the bottom line …
Both articles mirror what I've been saying for years. Nice to have a kindred spirit in Mr. Crain.

So - if you don't listen to me, listen to Rance.

May 9, 2007: A piece by Leslie Laredo in Ad Age. Looks like people are finally catching up to what I've been saying for the last four or five years. Feels good.