27 May 2008

Sex, Sex, and Sex

Let's Talk About Sex (Newsweek)

BOOMER LOVE (San Francisco Chronicle)

Putting The 'Boom' In Boomer
(CBS News Online)

How well I remember the media all over us when we were teenagers because we were having sex. Now they're all over us again because we're still having sex.

I wish they'd shut up and go away so we can have sex.

25 May 2008

Thanks, MarketingSherpa

For your generous review:
Baby boomers make up 25% of the US population, hold 70% of US assets and spend $2 trillion annually. It's time we discovered opportunities for infomercials, Internet ads and branding catered to the young-at-heart. 'Advertising to Baby Boomers' uses straightforward, jargon-free language to guide advertisers, business owners and agencies on how to craft campaigns successfully.

The author, Chuck Nyren, a veteran creative strategist, explains how to approach this important demographic. This second edition update is divided into three sections. The first part helps us understand boomers' self-image and desires; the second suggests how to market to them; and the third offers practical resources.

Nyren employs wit, helpful asides and experts' citations to refute stereotypes that damage campaigns. He reinstates respect for the demographic that's often insulted by well-intentioned- but-flawed advertising. Some of his suggestions include abstaining from poking fun of boomers' age (i.e., targeting them for cliché products). He also advises showing facts instead of using elaborate illustrations to explain why boomers need something.

So, if you want to avoid pigeonholing baby boomers and confusing or angering the demographic with your humor, check out this readable 182-page foundation for reaching them. We promise it will be filled with underlines.

21 May 2008

Baby boomers are smarter than you think

It seems as if I’m smarter than I think I am:
Baby boomers are smarter than you think
Researchers have confirmed what many mature people already know – intelligence actually gets sharper with age.
Yeah? Then how come I didn’t know this already?

… Oh, that’s right. Baby Boomers aren’t ‘mature.’ We think we’re still youngsters.
Wisdom increases with age, research says
Scientists have discovered that intelligence, instead of peaking in our youth, remains stable and in some respects gets sharper as we grow older.
And the New York Times is weighing in. When we think we're losing it, we're actually gaining it:
Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain
When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong. Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit ...

"...Older adults, because they’ve retained all this extra data, they’re now suddenly the better problem solvers. They can transfer the information they’ve soaked up from one situation to another."
Hmmm. I keep hearing that 50 is the new 30. Now I’ll be hearing that 50 is the new 70.

20 May 2008

Funerals Are For The Dead

As the old saying goes, “Funerals are for the living.” Not anymore. Now there’s a place where you can theme, decorate, and DJ from the grave (or wherever you happen to end up) – thanks to two Baby Boomers: Nancy Bush and Sue Kruskopf.
Plan your own funeral online
By Jackie Crosby
The generational cohort known as the baby boomers brought us the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, the women's movement and the gay rights movement.

Could the death movement be next?
I talked a bit about this in my book. From Chapter Five:

My Wonderful Life's promotional video is very cute. I’ll embed it here not because I think it’s so brilliantly funny – but consider this: Would you have seen a spot like this for funeral services twenty years ago? One with even a hint of humor? We’ve had quite an impact on almost everything.

Of course, when I die I want a funeral procession with an old rickety horse-drawn carriage, open coffin, priests with long beards in long robes waving incense, and hundreds of women dressed in black and wailing.

But that’s just me. My personal statement.

Offer Ends Soon!

I stumbled upon a blog post. By a fellow I have a lot in common with and who’d probably be a friend of mine if I knew him.

Or we’d hate each other. Who knows.

Larry Jones has written about advertising, Baby Boomers – and you’d better listen because his sentiments are widespread:
Offer Ends Soon!
All my life I’ve been pummeled by advertising.
I have listened to and watched millions of 60-second spots. Over the years they have changed from live presentations by TV and radio personalities who have tried to cultivate my trust through a sort of pseudo friendship, into ever shorter and “punchier” 30’s, 20’s, 10’s and even five-second commercial messages delivered in MTV-style videos, no scene longer than two seconds, challenging my ability even to see what’s on the screen, much less understand what I think I’m seeing.
I’m not sure he needed the disclaimer. He must have friends like me he didn’t want to piss us off. At least too much. (Hey, Larry - is that a smudge on your sweatshirt or a Nike logo?)

Actually, he was just being nice. Yeah, we’re making a living - but a lot of us also enjoy it.

Even though I’d like to see campaigns that resonate with Baby Boomers – and he doesn’t really give a you-know-what – we both agree that they are, for the most part, pretty pathetic.

Larry also has a home studio and plays guitar. With a background in the audio industry, I know a bit about all this. He probably owns some equipment manufactured by a company I worked for seven or eight years ago.

And I was hired because the company knew that the largest age demographic for home audio and music equipment was take-a-guess. Since then, it’s become even a larger chunk.

Does the professional/consumer audio industry have a handle on this? Nope. It’s not a question of dumbing down technology for Baby Boomers (we invented most of this stuff) – but more a question of universal design, easy-to-handle knobs and controls, bigger fonts and correct color contrasts for audio software. Older hands and eyes are at the controls.

Enough. I have to go unwind after tossing up this post. Maybe I’ll plug in and play sloppy, cliché-ridden blues guitar. Even after decades of trying, and I still can’t play as fast as Alvin Lee.

16 May 2008

Coming Boom in Boomer-Friendly Transport

BusinessWeek has a piece about new features in cars that take into account older eyes, older bodies.

No surprise to me. I suggested this years ago – in my book and during a long segment in 2005 on The Advertising Show.
The Coming Boom in Boomer-Friendly Transport
by Jim Henry
In part to aid the aging driver, General Motors (GM) is adding high-tech features such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warnings, both available on the 2008 Cadillac STS and DTS models. "GM recognizes the importance of this sizable demographic group in the U.S. and globally," said Dave Rand, executive director, global advanced vehicles, in a written presentation.
Big Business is behind the curve, as usual. But better late than never.

My point three years ago was that Baby Boomers were buying up those mid-priced boxy cars (even though they were being marketed to college kids and twenty-somethings) because they were easy to get in and out of, easy to see out of, and some had large dashboards that were easy to read. So why not build cars with these and more features for older drivers? And market them as such?

Over six months later I read this.

But ageism is still rampant in the advertising and business world. More from the BusinessWeek article:
Etsuhiro Watanabe, an associate chief designer at the Nissan Design Center, was careful to point out that Nissan is not designing a car specifically for old people. "The improved ergonomics will benefit drivers of all age groups, young and old included," he said.
Pretty funny. Like I've said, I remember when those boxy cars were selling to an older demographic (they still are) and upsetting marketers because the predicted target wasn't being hit. “What are we doing wrong?” they asked themselves.

I certainly don’t remember any of them, upon launches, carefully pointing out that their cars were “Not specifically designed for young people” …

Dick Stroud also blogged this piece – with his usual trenchant comments.

14 May 2008

Most Inane Commercial of The Year Award

Category: Targeting Baby Boomers

Thanks to Brent Green for nominating this one.

Actually, it was cloned.

Too bad, too. Because this is a hot topic. With proper positioning and a campaign not so lame, so demeaning ...

The product will sell (it's in the right place at the right time), but imbued with an honest generational aesthetic instead of insulting, smarmy clichés, sales might have been phenomenal.

Let the cringing begin.

And I bet it'll also make a lot of people from other generations cringe. (Or thrilled that we're being portrayed as such nincompoops.)
Update May 26, 2008: As usual, NostraChuckus predicts the future.

OK .. so it was posted two days before mine. I didn't see it until today. Cut this ol' Soothsayer some slack.

Make sure you read the first dozen or so comments attached to the post.

And as you read, keep this quote in the back of your mind:
Recently I have been embarrassed to be part of this generation. The reason? Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue is never wrong. They’re the neighbor across the street that sees you in the way you don’t see yourself. They’re young, they’re cocky, and what they say about the older generation becomes the truth. People still think there was a real Mr.Whipple, so I know whatever Madison Avenue says about us is what everyone’s going to believe anyway. —Albert Brooks

12 May 2008

Diarrhea of the Word-of-Mouth

I seem to be suffering from diarrhea of the word-of-mouth lately:
A recent post: Smart or Sneaky?

Apparently, it's something I caught years ago: a Brand Autopsy thread from 2005.
And now Millward-Brown's Nigel Hollis, someone I've been blogging about way too much lately (What's The Word? and A Deep, Download-Worthy Report), posts this on his blog - and it started me slobbering again:
I'm Mulan. What advice can I offer you?
… Word of mouth was probably a much stronger influence when the people involved knew each other from the "real" world, not just from a Web page. When they knew, or at least could see, the friend, colleague or salesperson they were talking to, they did not have to guess at the veracity of the advice being offered ….
What if the ubiquitous nature of online search means that we are losing the inclination to ask other people for advice? After all, we can just look it up, right? Rather than gaining power, maybe WOM is actually losing it in the Internet era …
I approached it from another angle in my book, used different variables - but my (slightly tongue-in-cheek) assessment parallels what Mr. Hollis is suggesting:
When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, radio spot, print ad, direct marketing collateral, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.
Remember this: Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.
I'm getting sick of talking about this subject. I need to chug down a few heaping tablespoons of Word-of-Mouth Imodium.

07 May 2008

Boomerfile TV

There's this fellow in Canada, Lorne Frohman. He's a television guy, writes and produces comedy, teaches graduate courses at Humber College.

And now he's podcasting via Boomerfile.tv.

I do stuff like this on another blog - although my broadcasting so far has been audio only. Actually, I've been tossing up bits and pieces of a radio show I did a handful of years ago. Click the arrow below:

The Slobberer

I chuckled at Lorne's take on social networking for Baby Boomers. Not much different than mine.

Like he wishes getback great success - I wish Lorne the same.

05 May 2008

AARP's Chicken Coop Coup?

I've picked on AARP's advertising and marketing through the years. I think they can handle it. They're big boys and girls.

It actually started when I wrote my book. It had a beefy chapter about a B2B campaign targeting media planners/buyers:
… The advertising campaign has one ad with ashen-faced Baby Boomers in body bags ("These days, doctors don't pronounce you dead. Marketers do."). Another shows Baby Boomers acting like testosteroned teenagers ("Outta the way, punks: older racers are the hot-rod kings!").Yet another has one of a middle-aged lady dead in a powder room (probably from overdoing it on the dance floor) with police chalk outlining her body. I don't know what the copy is because I haven't seen it. It's probably something like, "Give me wrinkle cream, or give me death!"
© 2005 by Paramount Market Publishing
Last year I tossed up a post about AARP's consumer campaigns.

Here's a recent post about a survey they did three years ago.

And about a year ago I mixed it up with their Chief Brand Officer on NPR.

I won't point you to all my posts that mention AARP and the way they're positioning themselves, doing everything they can think of to seduce Baby Boomers. And I don't always say negative things - but usually do.

I've yet to talk about this cornball catchphrase: Divided We Fail. I may never talk about it - probably because even though I don't have a problem with their objectives, the campaign makes me so ill I'm unable to put blood-drained fingers to keyboard.

So the other day I'm leafing through the new National Geographic and I see this (click here or click the thumbnail on the right). I get sucked in. Great story. It's something real - not a lot of aspirational vapor.

Call me callous, superficial, jaded, deeply character-flawed, whatever - but my initial reaction was: "Great Branding!"

It's how AARP should be positioning themselves - as a proactive, one-on-one, socially conscious organization - not one with dancing gorillas and empty-headed pod people brandishing vapid placards.

Sure, I could be a snot and nitpick - about the copy, the layout, the lede, probably more. But that would be me as a consultant/creative. The essence of this advertisement is spot on. It's a story. A real story.

I hope they develop this ad into a high-profile campaign with more stories and history.

If they do, a huge chunk of Baby Boomers might decide to join for reasons other than simply that 15% Discount Card.

Update May 19, 2008: The National Geographic for June showed up in my mailbox. On the back cover is the "Chicken Coop" ad.

Was there a Chicken Coop Coup? Did NostraChuckus predict the future again? Maybe, maybe not. Heretics point out that his prognostication was posted long after said media planning decision was made, while followers counter that he had no prior knowledge of this, and was the only soothsayer able to divine it ...

You decide.

I'll stay out of the NostraChuckus controversy, and limit my remarks to AARP. I simply say, "Good for them." Finally, smart moves happening over at their advertising/marketing department. (And since it's almost summer, I'm sure they'll be happy to know that they can all shed their gorilla suits now).

02 May 2008

Smart or Sneaky?

I gave half-a-webinar a few weeks ago, sharing the virtual stage with my good friend John Migliaccio, Director of Research for The MetLife Mature Market Institute. The webinar was produced by IMMN.

It went very well. For a rundown and opinions, Carol Orsborn of FH BOOM blogged it in two installments:
Vintage Word-of-Mouth

Future Firestorm
I've blabbed about WOMM many times. So have a ton of others. But I have to say - the best thing I've ever read on the subject wasn't by an expert or pundit (or Yours Truly). It was an article in last month's Homemakers Magazine. A real life story - both funny and revealing:
Word-of-mouth marketing -- Smart or sneaky?

Getting free products is easy when you're a buzz marketer but can word-of-mouth marketing damage relationships? You decide.
By Bonnie Staring

People have always talked about the things they use, recommending (or dissing) products and services. It's called word of mouth, and advertisers have always known that it's the best kind of marketing their product could have, but they've never tried to control it. Until now.
I'll repeat something I said in my webinar, in my book, on this blog:
When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, radio spot, print ad, direct marketing collateral, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.

Remember this: Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.

Paramount Books' Spring Offerings

Paramount Books (my publisher) has uploaded their new Spring Catalog (PDF). Lots of interesting-looking books listed, including one I liked a lot.

Mine's in there somewhere.

01 May 2008

Life would be very strange if ...

I do the Facebook, MySpace, Twitter things mostly to keep up with what's going on out here in the ether. I'm not sure they'll last - or at least be as popular and influential for very much longer. They get boring, repetitive. When you get older, you have better things to do. And most young folks eventually get older, and are replaced by even younger folks who'll find other crazy things to do that'll be fun and exciting for them, so ....

Steve Hall of AdRants and AdGabber blogged this video produced by a young comedy group in England. What if real life were like Facebook? It got me laughing: