26 April 2008

Beers and Innovation: Coming of Age

Hi Chuck

I thought you would be interested to hear about the upcoming NMK (New Media Knowledge) Coming of Age event on Tuesday 27th May 2008 in London, UK, as it focuses on communicating with, and creating content and websites for, the mature market online. We’d be very pleased for you to mention it on your blog if you think it’s appropriate ....

For full details, speaker information and booking, visit:
Beers and Innovation: Coming of Age


Elizabeth Varley
Events Consultant

Elizabeth -

.... Sure, I'll mention it. I know Dick Stroud, and Kevin Lavery of Millennium. I spent some time with them last year in England while on a speaking/consulting tour. Before that, we'd met in New York and Chicago, respectively.

I might've called it Warm Beers & Bloviators. (Just kidding, my friends across the pond ...) I wish I were going - and bloviating. And drinking.

25 April 2008

Bookmarked Brains: The International Longevity Center

Second in a series:

One of my regular stops in the ether is The International Longevity Center. It’s a site that’s easy to navigate and filled with all sorts of goodies. The Newsroom is often updated, and I like their blog – where I’m often introduced to other worthwhile blogs/sites by people leaving comments.

Some of their publications are downloadable at no cost, others are reasonably priced. Here’s a freebie I sent to a bunch of people recently.

And their varied and impressive Projects makes the ILCUSA not merely a Think Tank but a Do Tank.

Founder and CEO Robert N. Butler has and is having an interesting life (if you can believe Wikipedia). He’s written a new book: The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life. Bob Moos of The Dallas Morning News has a wonderful piece on the book and the man:
The Longevity Revolution
Dr. Robert N. Butler, who has spent his career studying older people and caring for them, calls the extraordinary human accomplishment "the Longevity Revolution" and says that "what was once the privilege of the few has become the destiny of the many."

Dr. Butler's 50-year career has been one of firsts. A pioneer in the field of aging, the gerontologist became the founding director of the National Institute on Aging in the '70s, created the first geriatrics department at a U.S. medical school in the '80s and established in the '90s the International Longevity Center, the first policy research organization devoted entirely to aging.
And a few weeks ago Ronni Bennett of Times Goes By interviewed Dr. Butler:
The TGB Interview: Dr. Robert N. Butler
I discovered Robert N. Butler, M.D. when I first started researching aging a dozen years ago through his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Why Survive? Being Old in America. My copy, even in hardback, is tattered and worn now, Post-It noted and marked up to within an inch of its life, as it is one of the “bibles” I regularly use to think about aging and as a reference for this blog.
I’ve written about casually flinging around the concept of ‘longevity’ in advertising and marketing. Be careful. However, using it to position a product or service - and the excellent work of The International Longevity Center - are apples and oranges. Don’t confuse them.

24 April 2008

A Deep, Download-Worthy Report on Global Branding

BrandZ and Millward-Brown have released a deep, download-worthy report on worldwide Brands:
Top 100 Most Powerful Brands (PDF)
The BrandZ Ranking is the result of Millward Brown Optimor’s robust brand valuation methodology. Ours is the first brand ranking to combine analysis of financial data with primary research findings. We do this because brand value depends on consumer sentiment as well as on a company’s ability to translate that sentiment into shareholder value.
Nigel Hollis unpacks it on his blog:
What do McDonald’s, Colgate, and Tide have in common?
To my mind, while the numbers may sound less impressive, the performance of brands like McDonald’s, Colgate and Tide is even more compelling. They are a testimony to the fact that innovation and adaptation are the lifeblood of successful global brands.
I have a thick, lumpy chapter about branding in my book. It’s not anti-branding, but warns readers about so-called branding experts who give you the impression that they wield some sort of wizardly 'branding wand' and can brand your new product out of thin air.

This report shows you that with few exceptions it’s hard work – requiring research, advertising, marketing, PR. All the grubby stuff. For example, McDonald’s has slowly and meticulously branded their restaurants. Different marketing/advertising techniques are used in different parts of the world. While every so often, as if by magic, a brand appears – as in the case of Google, of Starbucks. The real story is that they had unique products – and these two brands built themselves with very little input from branding ‘experts’. Down the line, they refined and molded their brands using standard branding techniques.

Read the Press Release.

Read the report.

22 April 2008

Bookmarked Brains: MIT AgeLab

I have too many bookmarks (can you tell I use Firefox?) in too many folders. And being easily awed, I love clicking the "open all in tabs" tab. It astounds me every time they magically spill out and line up.

One folder in my business browser is Think Tanks. There are about twenty sites tucked in there – not all technically think tanks. If the term has a precise definition, I’m not sure what it is anyway.

At the moment I’m thinking of featuring four Think Tanks – but maybe this will become an ongoing series of posts and I’ll be surprised what TTs I pick to profile.

The first:
MIT AgeLab
The MIT AgeLab was created in 1999 to invent new ideas and creatively translates technologies into practical solutions that improve people’s health and enable them to “do things” throughout the lifespan.

Based within MIT’s School of Engineering’s Engineering Systems Division, the AgeLab has assembled a multi-disciplinary and global team of researchers, business partners, universities, and the aging community to design, develop and deploy innovations to improve quality of life.
While the web site is rich with info – you really have to attend a presentation by AgeLab’s Founder and Director, Dr. Joseph Coughlin. I co-presented with him at a private corporate event in 2006. Even back then, as an old, jaded conference attendee and presenter at 50+ events, I was sure there was nothing I hadn’t seen. Dr. Coughlin’s presentation was (for me) mind and body boggling. I want the car he talks about, the amenities he talks about. I hope I never need the pill boxes he talks about.

Afterwards, Joe and Yours Truly shared a cab to the airport. We've kept in touch through a handful of emails. Nice guy. Do I need to add wildly intelligent visionary guy?

In a scribble a few weeks ago he invited me to join a new Facebook Group: MIT AgeLab. If you have a Facebook account, search for it - and if you think you can keep your head above water (mine's bobbing up and down) feel free to sign up.

A recent article: AgeLab Designs Products For Baby Boomers By David Ho, COX NEWS SERVICE

20 April 2008

Will they also bring back the test pattern?

This might be a good move:
NBC to Revive a Mainstay of Early TV
By Stuart Elliott
AS NBC looks to the future of its prime-time programming ... the network is borrowing a page from the past in asking advertisers to become involved sponsors of shows.

At a presentation on Wednesday afternoon, senior executives of NBC, part of the NBC Universal unit of General Electric, will describe how they are seeking to make advertisers into long-term partners rather than just sell them 30-second
The idea has inherent drawbacks – as it did back in the ‘Golden Age’ of Television. But with adjustments, what NBC is proposing just might work.

Or it’s a desperate move – relinquishing control of some series and specials because the network is worried about revenue.

I’d caution about much product placement. Keep it simple: an intro and tag with spots. Don't let them become hour-long commercials.

Certainly anybody over fifty would feel right at home watching a show presented as such.

Actually, a certain company has been doing something like this very successfully for years.

18 April 2008

Brands, Strange, Video, Worst

Angela Natividad posted this on AdRants:
We love internal propaganda. The thing is, Microserf or otherwise, nobody feels this way about Vista. NOBODY.
You are about to watch what could be the most horrific marketing/sales/motivational video ever made:

Make sure you read the blog comments.

I guess the target market is supposed to be older execs, mostly Baby Boomers, who make such decisions in major companies. Or actually the target is the sales force (inside and out) hawking Vista to Boomer execs. My guess is that this motivational video is supposed to whip these crack salespeople into a 'Baby Boomers frenzy' or something. I'll also guess that they haven't been dissuaded from showing it on their sales calls. (Not yet, at least.)

Thanks to the internet and YouTube, not much is private nowadays. Figure all in-house anything will leak - especially something as awkward and mortifying as this.

The irony, of course, it that Microsoft is famous for having hardly anybody over fifty working for them. Which explains a lot - since this 'music' video is truly tone-deaf. (Imagine me, for example, creating, greenlighting, or okaying an XBOX campaign for teenagers and twentysomethings.)

But I really cracked up when skimming Angela’s post tags: Brands, Strange, Video, Worst. I'm a huge fan of the 'younger generation' today - Millennials - and it's good to know that they see crap no matter where it's thrown. They're probably better at spotting it than we were at that those ages.

And the story gets curiouser and curiouser. Some people are suggesting that Microsoft made this 'internal' video specifically to 'leak out' as a spoof. That could be true - although I've seen some of their internal videos and I remember them as being rather lame - but not anywhere near as lame as this one.

I'm just trying to understand why they would do this. It's not a cheaply made video - a few hundred thousand dollars, minimum. So it had to have been officially sanctioned. And it's generating horrible PR. Wouldn't a PR person over there have been wise enough to figure that out?

And what's being spoofed? Vista as an unpopular, trouble-prone operating system that's created real headaches for their sales force? How many potential buyers are going to see this?

Real or spoof? As a spoof, it's bombed - creating (in today's parlance) blowback - even more bad feelings about the product and company. Microsoft loses either way.

On the record: I don’t have any real beef with Vista. I use it. It works for me.
I've disabled comments because this post has been receiving all sorts of vitriol directed at ... take a guess. None of it has anything to do with advertising, marketing, baby boomers, or the video in question.

17 April 2008

How Well Do You Know Boomers?

Here comes another one of those 'groundbreaking' studies that 'smashes myths' about marketing and advertising to Baby Boomers. Meaning - there's nothing even remotely groundbreaking or myth-smashing about it. Simply an assortment of hand-me-downs wrapped in a shiny new package.

And the juicy irony in a few of the findings had me laughing.

"Boomers are redefining age and changing the way business is done," said Howard Byck, VP Corporate Development for AARP Services. "Contrary to many common assumptions, Boomers are making retirement obsolete, are very savvy about advertising, and are experimenting with new products."
I'll go through a bunch of these ten myths and … well, smash the myth that any of them are 'new' …

Myth #4 - Boomers are winding down with age
Myth #10 - Boomers are retiring early

When studying Baby Boomers, have any subjects been written about more than these over the last five or more years? Here's a quote from the original edition of my book, published in March, 2005:
Contrary to popular myth, Baby Boomers do not believe that they are still teenagers or young adults. (Some probably do, but they need therapy.) 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. We're not 'looking forward to retirement,' we're looking forward to new lives, new challenges. Only a small percentage will opt for pure retirement. (I predict that in twenty years the word 'retirement' will still be in dictionaries, but followed by the modifier archaic.)
Myth #3 - Boomers are technologically challenged

I've gone on and on about this one. Here's the pull-quote from the cover of the original hardcover edition of my book (click the thumbnail to also see it):

And take a peek at these posts:

My Favorite Cyber-Myth (November 2005)

Baby Boomers Burst Online (January 2006)

Baby Boomers and Firefox (September 2006)

Baby Boomers and The Joy of Tech (January 2007)

Myth #2 - Boomers are the "Me Generation"

Again - much, much about this in my book and in this blog - but to break the monotony let me also point you to a piece in USA Today from 2006:

Me vs. We

'Me Generation' becomes 'We Generation' (USA Today)

Myth #1 - Boomers are all the same

How do I comment on this one? It's such old news that if I pointed you to what's been written on this subject the yellowed ether would crumble on your screen. Read my book, this blog, all articles and books and research by Dick Stroud, Matt Thornhill, Brent Green - and three or four others over the last six years. Maybe Focalyst is also coming out of a five-year coma.

#5 - Boomers are all wealthy

I talk about this at length in my book - and about how marketers are missing out, going only for 'the gold' when they should be focusing more on core Boomers who aren't rich but have done OK and will continue working.

Myth #9 - Boomers are downsizing their homes

I have a whole chapter in my book about this, aging in place, and adult communities. Nothing new.Here's an article I wrote in 2003. It was part of a series about adult communities and aging in place.

And saving the best two for last:

Myth #7 - You can capture Boomers with mainstream advertising

Only the theme of my book, my blog, my consulting, my presentations, my marketing articles for the last five years. What more can I say? Actually, Focalyst is wrong. You can capture Boomers with mainstream advertising - but most ad agencies have no idea how to do it.

Myth #6 - Boomers are brand loyal and will not switch

Golly gee, willikers. If you don't know this by now ...

Here's a quote from a review of my book (the 2005 edition) by Dr. Joyce M. Wolburg of Marquette University, published in The Journal of Consumer Marketing:
A second favorite excuse of agencies is: "Baby Boomers don't change brands" (p. 52, italics in original). 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.
Read the full review. (PDF)

Why did I save these two for last? And why do I find them ironic and funny? Because Focalyst said these same two things in a report from 2006:

I'd think they'd want to take credit (although I beat them by a year and a half) for coming to these conclusions years ago. What myths are they smashing? Not their own, obviously.

Did they forget? Did the company's hard drives crash, all their 2006 data and research lost? Do they have collective Alzheimer's?

There's an old tongue-in-cheek saying in publishing that goes something like, "When myth and facts collide, publish the myth." Certainly in the cases of Myths 6 & 7, I think Focalyst and AARP's reputations would've been better served had they published the facts. It would've put them on the crest of the curve - not behind it.

11 April 2008

A House Not for Mere Mortals

I’m a huge fan of avant-garde art. I make fun of it sometimes, but that’s because I get a big kick out of it all.

And it’s probably why I actually did ‘get it’ when I read this piece in The New York Times:
A House Not for Mere Mortals
The house is off-limits to children, and adults are asked to sign a waiver when they enter. The main concern is the concrete floor, which rises and falls like the surface of a vast, bumpy chocolate chip cookie … Then Ms. Gins, 66, began holding forth about the health benefits of the house, officially called Bioscleave House (Lifespan Extending Villa). Its architecture makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, and that, she said, will stimulate their immune systems.
Remember: It’s only Art. I hope, at least.

But the point is well taken. There is a possibility of Universal Designed homes becoming places where you turn to mush. This is the current juicing the popularity of Brain Games – along with exercise routines that value balance and elasticity more than strength and endurance. We’d better deal with these things.

However, I’m not sure I really want to deal with “walls painted, somewhat disorientingly, in about 40 colors; multiple levels meant to induce the sensation of being in two spaces at once; windows at varying heights; oddly angled light switches and outlets”. It sounds a bit like a cross between a Fun House and The Winchester House.

Sure, we should always be stimulated in varying degrees. But … I’m still sticking with UD meaning Universal Design – not Undulating Danger.

08 April 2008

The First Annual Baby Boomer Girlfriends Spring Break

Beverly Mahone - author, journalist, talk show host, media and Baby Boomer pundit - has something going on that has an exciting, fun, unique feel about it:
The First Annual Baby Boomer Girlfriends Spring Break
In 2007, many of you contacted me suggesting we have some kind of event to connect baby boomer women all over the country in order to network, make business contacts and to celebrate who we are. Well I listened and now we are going to do just what you've asked.
Listen to Beverly talk about it on Growing Bolder Radio.

This is the type of grassroots event that should be on all marketers' radar. It might look small and insignificant to a P&G, a Unilever, a General Motors - but the 'realness' of it will reflect on your brand more than a booth at a standard convention or event.

And the future of this Spring Break? Read on ...

I don't want to get into the whole story - but when I was on a speaking tour in Europe recently, my gig in The Netherlands was at this unbelievable event. Ninety-eight thousand visitors, five hundred and eighty-seven top-of-the-line booths. Ten or fifteen years ago when it began, the booths were folding tables and chairs, the vendors hawking trinkets and vacation packages.

Also in The Netherlands there is an impressive annual event on a smaller scale. One of the producers is Martijn de Haas - profiled recently on The Mature Market site.

Beverly left a comment on another post:

"Do you think you could put on a dress and come speak to the fabulous women at our Baby Boomer Girlfriend's Spring Break in Daytona Beach?"
Maybe next year, Beverly. But … where do I shop for this dress? It'll be tough finding something in my size - and is stylish. I might have to make a short detour here on the way to Florida.

Or ... I could wait until I get there. For the 2nd Annual, you just might have hundreds of booths, with dozens dedicated to fashion.

More about it all.

04 April 2008

IMMN Webinar, April 15: Boomers From The Inside Out

The International Mature Marketing Network (IMMN) is sponsoring a webinar April 15th, 11am EST.

Presenters will be Dr. John Migliaccio (Director of Research for The MetLife Mature Market Institute) and Yours Truly.

I'll jump into the ethereal spotlight first and rattle on about the brouhaha surrounding word-of-mouth marketing. Then John will reveal a new MetLife study conducted by The Institute for The Future: Boomers From the Inside Out.

John and Chuck have been on the same bill more than once. In fact, twice. And that doesn't include the time we were talking heads on The History Channel series Our Generation. Some have called us the Martin & Lewis of Boomer Bloviating.

Here's more about the webinar.

And a chunk of email I received yesterday:
You guys are a hot ticket! We just sent out the second eBlast and already have 42 people signed up. Since people don't have much of a sense of urgency until the week before a webinar, you can expect many more additional attendees.

Way to go!
Just shows you my pull in the marketing/business world. No doubt John and MetLife are grateful to me for dragging them along on my coattails.