29 December 2008

John Lennon Exhumed

OLPCOne Laptop Per Child.

Watch this:

I’ve seen some beautiful, profound spots for this project:

But a new one is creepy. Cheesy. As much as I loved John Lennon, love OLPC, would have no problems with using Lennon’s music to promote such a worthy and important cause - this spot is spooky, tin-ear pandering:

It reminds me of a dancing skeleton …

I’m not the only one creeped out by it.

23 December 2008

AARP’s 2008 Best Employers For Workers Over 50

aarpbestemployers The AARP “Best Employers for Workers Over 50” is an annual recognition program that awards companies and organizations whose best practices and policies for addressing the issues affecting our aging labor force create roadmaps for the workplaces of tomorrow.

Highly admirable, AARP.  Thanks. And congrats to all the companies. By keeping and hiring employees over 50 they’re  doing the right thing and the smart thing.

VenusMiloQuiz: How many advertising agencies are on the list? 

Hint: You can count them on the hands of Venus de Milo.

Maybe I’m being a bit rough. After all, many ad agencies are owned by multinationals based outside of the United States – so here is the real AARP award program we should keep our eyes on:

aarpea The AARP International Innovative Employer Award is intended to recognize employers who have demonstrated innovative workforce or human resources practices that address issues relevant to the age 50 and older workforce.

Quiz: How many advertising agencies will be on this list? 

Anybody want to make a prediction?

Hint: Use the Venus de Milo to make your calculations.

Related Posts

Is technology rewiring our brains?

Ignore the Research and Trust Your Gut

Home Appliances & Boomers

Rance Crain Makes Perfect Sense Yet Again

22 December 2008

Deloitte’s State of the Media Democracy Survey

Next month Deloitte will release the State of the Media Democracy Survey, Third Edition.

Along with their teaser presentation, a few nuggets have been rolled out in advance.  Two news articles detailing choice ones:

newtv Deloitte survey shows we’re living in a “media democracy”

Deloitte Study: Millennials, Mobile and More

Smashing open a few nuggets:

Baby Boomers, ages 43 to 61, and the mature generation, ages 62 to 75, continue to read books, magazines, and newspapers. They lag in adopting new technology. The mature generation puts the most importance on television, favors land lines, and is receptive to print ads.

Nothing much new here.  Lagging in adopting new technology isn’t quite the way I’d put it.  From my book:

Boomers are also receptive to print ads and television spots.  The 2007 Deloitte State of the Media Democracy Survey found that 67% of boomers visited sites after seeing ads on TV or in print.  My guess for 2009: Nothing much will change.

If you take the population as a whole, television remains the most influential ad medium for 88 percent of respondents. Magazines (49 percent) and online (48 percent) tied for second.

deloitte-2Those percentages are for all age groups – so you can imagine what the numbers would be for Boomers only. 

The willingness to pay for a subscription for ad-free content has declined since last year.

Advertising on the web is becoming accepted, often welcomed. 

Video on the web:

Pre-roll ads were considered more influential than overlay ads.

Most Boomers don’t mind pre-roll.  We’re used to it.  It’s simply a commercial before a show. While overlay ads are intrusive, annoying, and don’t forget this.

deloitte Deloitte’s 2007 State of the Media Democracy Survey

19 December 2008

my virtual hand slapped

I had my virtual hand slapped the other day.

A friend and colleague, someone with a mind-boggling marketing past (Disney, NestlĂ©, Former President of The Advertising Hall of Fame), reprimanded me for painting all psychiatrists who’ve been on PBS as nutty.

I didn’t quite say that – although my tongue-in-cheek pontifications here in the ether are often misinterpreted. I take the blame for that.  (And take a certain amount of perverse pleasure in it, too.)

garysmall My friend/colleague is working on some projects with a gentleman I admire, a psychiatrist who’s been on PBS and many other media outlets, Dr. Gary Small.

I’ve blogged Dr. Small, linked to an article where he was quoted, doing so more than once.

iBrain_1 His new book iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind is getting great reviews.

My friend offered to put me in touch with Dr. Small for an interview – but I wouldn’t do something crazy like waste such an opportunity on a silly blog. If I ever got Dr. Small on the phone I’d turn it into a free personal psychiatric consult.

So instead, watch this:

18 December 2008

Dr. Harry “Rick” Moody Joins IMMN

IMMN Yours Truly was asked to continue for another year as an International Mature Market Network (IMMN) Honorary Board Member.  It wasn’t a decision I had to wrestle with.

Here’s the list of IMMN members.

Also joining as an Honorary Board Member is Dr. Harry “Rick” Moody, Director of Academic Affairs for AARP:

rmoody Dr. Harry "Rick" Moody, Director of Academic Affairs for AARP in Washington, DC, received the 2007 Outstanding Scholar award from the Creative Longevity and Wisdom program at Fielding Graduate University. Since 2005, an outstanding scholar has been chosen for this prestigious award given in recognition for the recipient's work with the aging population.

17 December 2008

They Didn’t Get The Memo

I never watched Boston Legal except for catching snippets every so often.  I limit myself to two shows on a regular basis (they’d be House and Curb Your Enthusiasm).   

tivofrownObviously, I try to catch as many commercials as possible.  That’s why I don’t have TiVo.  I asked some fellow at the electronics store if you could program TiVo to only record commercials.  He didn’t know – but did seem to know that he was talking to a lunatic.

An article about Boston Legal’s final episode:

Kelley, Like 'Boston Legal,' Won't Go Quietly   
By Lisa DeMoraes

post … In last week's episode of "Boston Legal," John Larroquette, who plays Carl Sack, a senior partner in the firm, represented Betty White, who was suing the broadcast networks for age discrimination because they do not program to viewers over the age of 50 … "The baby boomers, now all over 50, earn $42 trillion in annual income. That's trillion!" Larroquette continues, warming up to his subject.

"Madison Avenue is after the discretionary spender," shoots back Bald Lawyer Guy, representing the broadcast networks.

BostonLegal "Yes, and people over 50 account for half of that, too," Larroquette responds coolly. "Choose your statistic. Go ahead. I've got you. We've got more money. We spend more money. We watch more televisions, go to more movies, we buy more CDs than young people do and yet we're the focus of less than 10 percent of the advertising.  All the networks want to do is skew younger. Kids shows for kids. You know, the only show unafraid to have its stars over 50 is 'Bos -- ' gee, I can't say it. It would, um, break the wall," Larroquette says, signaling the wall between him and viewers watching at home ...

Whoever David E. Kelley is, I like him.

I also like this blogger.  He sounds a lot like me over the last five years:

Madison Avenue Just Doesn’t Get It
Richard Ungar
Once the boomers passed the magic age of 49, our ranks continued to be a very significant economic force-but the current generation of broadcast television programmers didn’t get the memo …

16 December 2008

Mushy Brains

I’m still pondering the ponderable – and the imponderable.

thinking Recently, for reasons I won’t divulge, I’ve been thinking about brains.  But so have a lot of Baby Boomers. Our brains are important to us.  I remember Woody Allen’s character in 1973’s Sleeper saying, “My Brain. It’s my second favorite organ.”  Thanks to the invention of Viagra this is still true.

The Big Issue: We are now worried about losing our second-favorite organs to fun afflictions like Alzheimer’s.  It’s why we buy brain games.  And watch nutty psychiatrists on PBS

I take a contrarian view.  I think we’re doing pretty well in the thinking department.  Our decision-making doesn’t seem to have been affected by the aging process.  And what many of us want to do with the rest of our lives sounds rather sane to me. 

brain2 Then again, all this could be because our brains are turning to mush. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe you get a different kind of brain, a more emotionally astute brain with mush.

15 December 2008

Ecologies Of Risk

Around this time every year things slow down for me businesswise.  I’m guessing that’s true for a lot of people.

thinker1 This gives me time not only to ponder the ponderables – but also the imponderables.  With the world the way it is nowadays it’s hard to tell them apart.  Forgive me for getting a bit deep here – but not much seems to be knowable

Over the last dozen or so years experts have predicted all sorts of futures for Baby Boomers.  With the economic collapse, apparently everything has changed.  At least that’s what I’ve been told. 

One thing has remained constant: You can still make money marketing to and even investing in Baby Boomer targeted products and services.

There’s a new report about the future of Baby Boomers by The Institute For The Future and The MetLife Mature Market Institute:

Risky times ahead
mw By Robert Powell
Baby boomers face three new risks in coming decades, but there are answers …

migliacciopicra Richard Adler is one of the smartest people I know.  And just the other day I told my buddy John Migliaccio that he’s one of the smartest people I know (but I won’t reveal why I think he’s so smart – or why I told him). 

Download The Report: Ecologies of Risk (PDF)

My favorite quote from the report:

“Boomers believe that their single most important future asset is themselves.”

While this is nothing new, it sums up things pretty well:

“Boomers are rejecting the traditional narrative of retirement as a time of relaxation and winding down; they see coming decades as a time that offers expanded opportunities for self-investment and a chance to develop new capabilities.”

eor Ecologies of Risk is a worthy read, a must read if you are involved with marketing and advertising to Baby Boomers. The only section I’d take with a shaker of salt is the psychographics at the end (Boomer Action Types).  I’m not a big fan of psychographics.

More from Brent Green.

Update 12/21/08: Dick Stroud’s take on it.

14 December 2008

Baby Boomers: A Force to Reckon With


Baby Boomers: A Force to Reckon With
adweek Households with baby boomer members -- born between 1946 and 1964 -- account for nearly $230 billion in sales of consumer packaged-goods (CPG) products and represent 55 percent of total CPG sales, a new study by Nielsen and Hallmark Channel reports.

Not too many ad/marketing trade mags were paying much attention to Boomer buying power three or four years ago.  Now they are. 

However, ADWEEK did.  Something I’d forgotten all about: Over three years ago ADWEEK offered my book as a subscription renewal premium.

12 December 2008

No News News

A few news stories popped up in my Google alerts:

Baby Boomers are Largest Group of U.S. Internet Users
eMarketer estimates that ‘baby boomers’ - people born between 1945 and 1965 - constitute the largest group of United States Internet users.

News???  Here’s an excerpt from my book, first published in early 2005 (the quote is about a commercial for a hotel reservations service):

While this study was done in Europe, it applies here:

Older people can be disenfranchised by celebrity-fronted ads
The research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Senioragency … discovered that 46% of older consumers are actively turned off by celebrities fronting ad campaigns while only 11% thought more positively.

I talk about this in an online PowerPoint.  And in my book:

infomercials1  infomercials2 
I’m a big supporter of web-based news and information – but sometimes print is years ahead of anything you’ll find in the ether.  Here’s a catalog brimming with books about marketing - all with ahead-of-the-curve insights that you won’t find on the web:


11 December 2008

Shake Rattle Showtime

sr I had a spirited chat the other day with Joanne Hewitt, Marketing Director for the MPG Radio Network.  They produce Shake Rattle Showtime, a syndicated oldies-based show hosted by Jim Parsons.

Joanne has the numbers to prove that Shake Rattle Showtime spikes ratings and is true appointment listening.

A popular segment of the show – and a smart move by MPG:

“Walking Along encourages listeners to get out and get moving. Health is an area of high interest for our audience, and we're responding to that. Walking Along is introduced by a "Walking Song Of The Week" ie. Walking Along - Diamonds, I'm Walkin' - Ricky Nelson, etc.  A sponsor message follows within the segment.”

Boomers/Health. Pulling in sponsors for Walking Along shouldn’t be too difficult.

In January Shake Rattle will be in over forty markets.  My guess is that by this time next year it’ll be in over one hundred.

08 December 2008

Home Appliances & Boomers

I’ve been harping on a certain subject. I’ve harped twice

But I have to do it again.  This WSJ article is surreal:

Home Appliances to Soothe the Aches of Aging Boomers by Paul Glader

wsj At GE's consumer and industrial headquarters in Louisville, Ky., designers use "empathy sessions" to help develop new refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers. Industrial-design intern Joanie Jochamowitz, 22, wraps her knuckles with athletic tape and wears blue rubber gloves to simulate arthritis. She shoves cotton balls in her ears to simulate hearing loss, dons special glasses to simulate macular degeneration and puts dried corn kernels in her loafers to simulate aches and pains. She grabs a walker. Then she tries to peel potatoes.

eyeglasses So will advertising agencies tape, plug, bind and blind their twenty-something creatives so they’ll be able to fashion campaigns for these products?

Even better than the article are the comments:

“ … I wonder why the GE product development team seems to only be staffed by people in their 20s and 30s -- is there a shortage of designers in their 50s, who've experienced the shortcomings of various appliances for decades first-hand and don't need tape, gloves and corn kernels to simulate physical change? Foolishly, most industrial design seems to have been dominated by men and youth, giving us car doors that rip off our fingernails, seat belts that slice into our necks, and clothes dryers that require Cirque du Soleil dexterity to retrieve anything from. Why not have more women designers in their 50s and 60s working on product development teams?”

“Didn't it occur to you how stupid it was for GE and others to put these "old" suits on 25 year olds when there are real baby boomers 62 and younger as well as some very sharp 70 year old people who have not only decades of experience, a ton of degrees that actually were hard to get and are sharp as a tack who would still love to work but because of ageism can't even get a job at Taco Bell with a PhD (?)”

06 December 2008

Is technology rewiring our brains?

A piece by AP Science Writer Malcolm Ritter:

Your brain on Google: Scientists examining whether digital age rewiring young people's minds

ap When the brain spends more time on technology-related tasks and less time exposed to other people, it drifts away from fundamental social skills like reading facial expressions during conversation … So brain circuits involved in face-to-face contact can become weaker … That may lead to social awkwardness, an inability to interpret nonverbal messages, isolation and less interest in traditional classroom learning.

I’ve written about this before: Advertising Gone Wrong

But put aside any qualitative judgments about the damages or benefits of a (mostly) virtual life.  What about the creation of advertising and marketing?  If a certain age/lifestyle demo sees and hears differently, relates differently to the world, if it is in many ways a different world for them – don’t you think that it would behoove ad agencies to hire a more diverse creative workforce?  Shouldn’t clients insist on this?  

It looks like they’re having the same problems in New Zealand – and not much in the article points to the obvious solution.

04 December 2008

I’m watching an Oprah Show …

My sister emailed me:

winfrey I'm watching an Oprah Show and it's about women around the world. She brought up Dove’s international campaign and said that a "whopping 91% of woman over the age of fifty believe that advertising does a poor job of representing woman in their age group." 

I thought this would be a watershed campaign – but has anybody done it right since Pro Age?

03 December 2008

Let’s Go Holiday Shopping!

I've been hanging around the web for an eternity. At least it seems so. Since 1994.

The other day this showed up in my Google alerts:

felixgumby Step back into time: Gifts for nostalgic and sentimental baby boomers
Baby boomers tend to be a sentimental lot. And what better time to buy into this nostalgia than at Christmastime?

It reminded me of a yours truly scribbling from the internet dark ages. So I went snooping around in the stale ether – and found it, rotting away in a web dustbin:

Santa Let’s Go Holiday Shopping!
As you all know, gift-giving is a custom that tells us more about the giver than the receiver. For example, I remember getting lots of ties and World War II-related plastic models from ol' dad. Far be it from me to defy tradition, so …. Let's Go Shopping!

Then all those pics of moldy toys reminded me of my ninety seconds of fame.

I guess Christmastime is for reminiscing …

30 November 2008

Brains More Distracted, Not Slower with Age

smp Older brains work differently than younger brains.  I’ve talked about this in my book, in a new book, and here in the ether:

What Kind of Genius Are You?
A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types - quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet … Science News reports on a study that says an aging brain may be a more emotionally astute brain …

And in all my presentations, including this one:


Advertising/Marketing to Baby Boomers: A PowerPoint
The presentation is basic marketing/advertising to Baby Boomers. If you’ve been involved with this market for awhile don’t expect too many surprises. It runs about 45 minutes.

AP’s Science Writer Malcolm Ritter’s syndicated piece tells us more:

Brain scans show root of memory glitch with aging
newsweek Brain scans of older people in a noisy lab machine give biological backing to the idea that distraction hampers memory with aging, researchers reported Wednesday.

Scientific American weighs in:

Brains More Distracted, Not Slower with Age

All these findings should translate into principles and guidelines when fashioning advertising and marketing to Boomers and older.  Commercials/print ads/web sites should be free from distractions.  Creative must be coherent for older eyes, older ears.  More often than not, copy needs solid through-lines. 

If you think this means simple and dull, try hiring some older creatives. You’ll expand your definition of creative – and your definition of effective.

SantanaAbraxas Remember: We were young once – and wallowed in graphic and auditory noise

Of course, what I’m really talking about is diversity.

More from Dick Stroud.

26 November 2008

Social Networks & Banner Ads

Two interesting pieces by Mike Shields of MEDIAWEEK:

mediaweekIs the End Near for Display Ads?
As ad budgets shrink, buyers and publishers face growing pressure to prove value of banners …

MikeShields Social Networking Traffic Up as Advertising Falls Flat 
More than half the country actively uses social networking sites, but so far advertising on these properties is nothing short of anemic …

I’m not a huge fan of banner ads, but they have their place – and their influence:

How Ads Affect Our Memory
A new study suggests that marketers shouldn't fixate on the number of people who click on ads. According to the research, just seeing an ad on a Web page can impact memory. The findings could have a significant impact on the way online advertising is made and metered.

While word-of-mouth (not word-of-mouth marketing) is the gold standard for Baby Boomers (especially women), the most effective marketing model is still traditional advertising pushing to a company/product web site.

As Jack Trout says:

jt “This all brings me to my word-of-mouth on word-of-mouth marketing. It's not the next big thing. It's just another tool in your arsenal. If you have a way to get your strategy or point of difference talked about by your customers and prospects, that's terrific. It will help, but you're going to have to surround it with a lot of other effort, including, if you'll pardon the expression, advertising. You just can't buy mouths the way you can buy media. And mouths can stop talking about you in a heartbeat once something else comes along to talk about.”

25 November 2008

The Media & Baby Boomers: Joined At The Hip

Professor Douglas Gomery answers a handful of questions about Baby Boomers and Media:
Gomery says the boomers will continue to drive the media into the next two decades. As the largest demographic group, he says, "there is no historical model for the impact a group of people like the boomers (from 1946 to 64) have had and will have though 2020 or so."

Don't embarrass yourself by asking the reigning media and marketing mavens and moguls about Baby Boomers watching TV, listening to radio. Their eyes will glaze over, their lips will move slowly, mechanically, as they repeat The Mantra - a spooky, zombie-like drivel oozing with brain-washed rhetoric about the all-powerful 18-34 demographic.

Just as informative and even more fun: The Library of American Broadcasting. I spent too much time there clicking around. 

20 November 2008


mzMedia mogul Moses Znaimer seems to have taken over all things Boomer in Canada. He’s even renamed them. They’re now Zoomers.

The number of business and media outlets that are Znaimer/Zoomer-centric is quite impressive, and worth visiting. There’s a classical music station, a magazine, a Zoomer social network, a Zoomer university, a Zoomer consumer show ……. oh, I’m getting tired. Just click the pull-down menu on top of this page for the complete list. 

Zoom The first time I heard the word Zoomers many years ago it referred to folks using these things, racing around and having fun. So that’s what sticks in my mind. I can’t shake it.

Would a Boomer/Zoomer media empire play here in The States?  Maybe not.  We’re too diverse, unwieldy, eclectic. However, if someone wants to bankroll me for ten or twenty mil, I’ll be happy to put one together.

I’ll even change my name to Chuck Znyren.

Brent Green has a good take on it all.

18 November 2008

Even as America goes gray …

What was my reaction to the President-Elect’s speech and the crowd at Grant Park?  I felt like I was whisked back in time to when I was young and idealistic.  (Now I’m middle-aged and  idealistic.)  

Here’s an excerpt from a post I tossed up a few years ago. Little did I know how prescient it would be:     


"Even as America goes gray … its skin will become more polychrome. Buoyed by higher birth rates among minorities and increasing immigration from Latin America and Asia, parts of the United States will become as diverse as a New York subway car. Minorities will make up one-third of the U.S. population in 2016…
                                                       - Andrew Zolli 

A vital connection between a large percentage of Boomers and Millennials is being nurtured by the former. Millennials will be the real Boomers - diverse and inclusive. 

And the the grandparent connection is more profound than politics.  (Sorry - most of the links have vanished.)

Also: An interesting apology.

13 November 2008

Baby Boomers & The Economic Collapse

Lots of folks have been asking me about Baby Boomers, the economic collapse, and how you should now advertise and market to this demographic.

The how hasn’t changed.  Simple answer: Make sure you have the right guts around to trust.

advbbpfrt And if you’ve been hopping around this blog for the last three and a half years, or read my book first published in early 2005, you’d know that the what likewise hasn’t changed.  Unfortunately, not too many have paid attention.

longboomA large chunk of Baby Boomers were never planning to retire.  Now, another huge chunk won’t be able to retire.  That’s a lot of people still in the work force – and they’ll be staying there for another ten or twenty or thirty years, contributing mightily to the economy.

And if you work, you buy. What do you buy? Almost everything.  Clothes, appliances, computers, toothpaste.  The list is endless.  Regular, ol’ stuff.  Stuff almost exclusively marketed to twentysomethings with ad campaigns that don’t resonate with middle-aged consumers. 

What Baby Boomers will still be buying but not buying as much of: houses and condos in retirement villages, financial services, expensive vehicles, expensive vacations. Health-related products and services will be the only ones to remain steady, or grow.

So sell them clothes, appliances, computers, toothpaste.  This way you’ll beat the competition.

10 November 2008

Keep Preachin’

----- Original Message -----
To: nyrenagency
Subject: Keep Preachin'

preach Keep preachin' brother because some still refuse to hear.

My students presented a campaign geared to baby boomers to a group of judges at the National Student Advertising Competition. When we mentioned your book as proof that boomers don't like flashy ads, some 25-year-old copywriter/judge from **** West told them, "I can't believe boomers don't like slick ads."

So, keep preachin' and maybe they too will one day hear.

B*** A********, Asst. Professor (at a major university in the northeast)

25 October 2008

Boomers in Black & White

Sometimes I think advertising odd.

Lately, Baby Boomers are all in black & white.  Here’s a spot for Sprint cell phones – and it’s obviously targeting boomer technophobes (although I’m not convinced that this is a crucial market):

I already talked about this one in a PowerPoint presentation:


  (Click the pic for the video)

A Lipitor spot:


(Again, click the pic.)

Print ads aren’t immune to this ashen epidemic:


I’ll admit that some of the above ads are wrapped in broader campaigns produced in black & white.  Even so …

For many years we’ve been portrayed as immature, vapid middle-aged folks who think we’re still teenagers living in the The Sixties.  Mad Ave’s new take on us is that we’re merely characters in a handful of Woody Allen movies.