31 March 2009

Henry Stewart Talks: Latest Thinking in Marketing to the Older Consumer

HST A few months ago Dick Stroud asked me to fashion a PowerPoint w/ narration for a Henry Stewart Talks offering:

Henry Stewart Talks publishes animated audio visual presentations by world leading experts - advanced content in a user friendly format. We cover biomedicine, life sciences, advertising, management, marketing, finance and transnational crime.

It’s now available:

Latest Thinking in Marketing to the Older Consumer
For all those wishing to gain an understanding of the 50-plus market and to engage with this large and diverse group as consumers, including brand owners, marketers and brand managers, media planners and buyers, advertising agencies, media companies and academics and students of marketing.

My presentation is part of this section:

How the older market is evolving internationally
The status of UK 50 plus marketing |
The Australian perspective | Advertising and marketing to baby boomers in the USA |
Marketing and advertising to the older consumer in the Netherlands

Watch the first 6 minutes of Dick Stroud’s presentation

After zipping through the extract you can apply for a free trial – but I’m not sure how that works.  Give it a try.

Further in, Gill Walker features some terrific examples of 50+ advertising and marketing in Australia – and Arjan in’t Veld is fascinating as he unravels what’s happening in The Netherlands.

What extraordinary virtual company I keep.

27 March 2009

The Ad is a Fraud

rb Eagle-eye Ronni Bennett unmasked this ad for a wrinkle cream:

Advertising and Elders
… In addition to being repellent for its message, the ad is a fraud. At first glance, it looks like the lighting is harsher in the “before” photo and the “after” photo has been shot in soft focus. Look again and you can see they are the same photograph; the "after" image has been Photoshopped:


It reminded me of this post and my unmasking:

Guess Which Photo Was Retouched

I received this email message today from Amy Dresser: The photo of the older looking woman is the original.

I apologize for the error.  Chuck: Thank you for doing the digging I should have done before publishing the post after reading those blogs.

Ronni and her readers make astute points about advertising – many I’ve written and spoke about in my book, blog, and presentations:

“While we're at it, what about the advertising?! I don't mind that I get targeted for anti-wrinkle cream and various health care devices as much as I mind how bad the ads are: boring and uninventive.” - Mary Jamison

aeflogosmall On The Advertising Educational Foundation web site you can read a chapter from my book all about ‘boring and uninventive’ commercials:

Advertising to Baby Boomers (Classroom Resources)

But the greater disservice, I think, is that old people are missing from other kinds of ads and commercials. Do advertisers think we don't buy pet food, cleaning products, breakfast cereal, cell phones, cars, airline tickets? And you'd think elders would be the obvious target for those Dr. Scholl's gel inserts for shoes. – Ronni

Sounds like my book.  An excerpt:


An interview I did two years ago on Ronni’s blog:

tgbOn Advertising and Elders

25 March 2009

Was Bill being a Baby Boomer?

mix09 Joe Wilcox of Microsoft-Watch.com comments on Bill Buxton’s Keynote at MIX09:

Bill Buxton 'Mix'-es It Up
bb2 Bill Buxton, principal researcher for Microsoft research, stormed the Mix stage. What a start! … The 60-year-old showed that excellence knows no age, and that Baby Boomers can teach something to tech-savvy Gen Xers and Net Gen-ers … Bill roamed the stage like a caged cat. He has a stereotypical mad scientist look, and he rambles like one, too … I love this guy.

The 60-year-0ld showed that excellence knows no age! What a revelation!

Joe then makes this comment:

But was Bill being a Baby Boomer or does he understand something essential about the tactile nature of design?

What does ‘being a baby boomer’ mean?  Does it mean that you’re brainy and insightful – or anarchical and wacky?  Can’t you be both?

What do you think Joe thinks he thinks?

To help you decide, here’s Bill Buxton presenting at MIX09:

And here’s someone presenting who (according to Joe, I’m guessing) is simply ‘being a Baby Boomer’: 

22 March 2009

The Ad Contrarian

Thanks to Christopher Simpson’s outrageous Ad Nauseam blog, I took a long peek at a PDF that had me laughing and nodding:

acThe Ad Contrarian (book)
by Bob Hoffman
…. Today’s marketers seem obsessed with the irrelevant. They have convinced themselves that the Internet is a strategy; that pathetic, desperate stunts are a shortcut to brand building; that advertising is a dying practice …

A few quotes from Bob’s book and my book (so you know why I like his so much)

Bob’s book:

bh … I read an article by the creative director of a large international ad agency. He said his advertising is not intended to sell products. The objective is to “build brands.”

There was something alarming about this statement, but I’d heard it expressed so many times before that I’d begun to take it for granted that I was crazy and everybody else was right …

Chuck’s book:

I’ll be branded as a whistle-blower, a troublemaker, but all branding is today is advertising. It’s the new word for advertising, and not a very good one. Due to fractured, varied target markets, and the scores of new ways to reach consumers, branding has become the easiest way of dealing with all the variables. It’s a dumbed-down version of advertising. You could call it instant advertising—something that has no lasting value to the consumer, or to the advertiser. It’s a quick fix. In show biz parlance, the hydra-headed branding monster has no legs …

I’m guessing that the branding circus is about over. It will return, for advertising techniques are as cyclical as most everything in life seems to be. Print copywriting was once King, the radio commercial was once King, the television commercial was once King. Now, the brightly colored, crackles-and-explodes-in-your-mouth, rather tasteless and nutritiously deficient branding message is King.

But not for much longer.

Bob’s book:

… We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them
to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.

Chuck’s book (more prophetic than Chuck knew at the time):


Bob’s book:

Of all the dumb things that advertisers do, perhaps dumbest of all is aiming their message
too young.

advbbpfrt Chuck’s book:

…. That is my book.

Mr. Hoffman also has an outrageous blog – with some great quotes if you scroll a bit and bear right:

The Ad Contrarian (blog)
"Brand studies last for months, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and generally have less impact on business than cleaning the drapes."

20 March 2009

International Online Seminar Coming Soon

Henry Stewart Talks is about to release this online seminar:

HSTLatest Thinking in Marketing to the Older Consumer
For all those wishing to gain an understanding of the 50-plus market and to engage with this large and diverse group as consumers, including brand owners, marketers and brand managers, media planners and buyers, advertising agencies, media companies and academics and students of marketing.

A screen grab:


More when it’s released.

18 March 2009


If you’re here you’d better pay attention to what’s happening over there:

InTwoFocus is Europe's first Web video marketing agency specialising in the 50-plus market 
dickDick Stroud, the 50-plus marketing expert and Gerald geraldWortman, the acclaimed photographer and video producer, have  come together to form InTwoFocus - a Web video agency that creates video content that transforms the way its clients communicate with older consumers.

aef While I didn’t predict that they’d be such a phenomenon on the web, in the original edition of my book I penned a chapter about long-form commercials (or documercials) as the perfect vehicle for reaching Baby Boomers.

I also interviewed Dick and fashioned our chat into another chapter.  Both chapters are available on The Advertising Educational Foundation web site

Download the PDF.

itfDoes anybody here smell a business opportunity? 

Probably not. Most advertising agencies on this side of the pond have stuffed-up noses.

12 March 2009

Who’s gonna buy this car?

davidfoot David Foot of Boom, Bust & Echo fame has a piece in Canada’s Globe & Mail:

Who's gonna buy this car?
If we rescue the auto industry, it must
be able to build vehicles for an aging population
globeandmail … Boomers will need different vehicles. Many already have difficulty getting into low-slung cars, and they increasingly need bigger dashboard dials. The Japanese companies have a head start in understanding these trends. It will be necessary for North American auto companies to get up to speed rapidly if they are to compete effectively. And quality will be important. Younger buyers are more willing to trade quality for a better price. This trade-off is proving increasingly difficult when customers are older.

adshow I’ve blabbered about this for years.  In 2005 on The Advertising Show yours truly had a spirited discussion with hosts Brad Forsythe and Ray Schilens.  A chunky segment was about marketing autos to Boomers.  The complete show is here:

Author/Copywriter Champions Advertising to Baby Boomers

Click here.  It should start playing.

And I’ve tossed up a bunch of posts over the years on this subject:

Element Coming Boom in Boomer-Friendly Transport
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?

Along with ‘green’ – the auto industry had better retool with an eye on the 50+ market. 

Maybe both eyes.

11 March 2009

Another déjà vu …

Aside from the obvious reasons (anybody wanna buy a CDO?), it’s been a strange year so far. 

For me, the strangest episodes are happening while reading news articles about Baby Boomers and realizing that I’ve read versions of them all before – in my book and blog. 

sooth And they’ve given me excuses to have tongue-in-cheek fun with my alter-ego NostraChuckus.  But recently it’s been spooky.  I’m starting to believe my own goofy hype – hype I made up myself.  (Or maybe I’m still having tongue-in-cheek fun ...)

Another déjà vu:

ct This is not your father's old folks home
Boomers' active lifestyles redefining 55-plus housing
By John Handley
… "Over-55" housing has changed. Choices have expanded. Starting in the 1960s, the traditional model was the large, age-restricted Sun Belt communities. Now Sun City-style developments are being built in the Snow Belt.

From my book:

Give Boomers Room for Choices
Aging in Place 
I’ve heard this term defined a few ways. The simplest definition: people staying put in their condos or houses for the rest of their lives. Others refer to “aging in place” as remodeling current residences with Universal Design as the blueprint. Still others use the term to describe Baby Boomers moving into condos or active adult communities not far from where they are now—so they can still be near work, family, and friends.

… As Baby Boomers retire, they will put their special stamp on retirement … maybe with large multi-generational communities. 

ATBBpaper There’s more, but I’m too lazy to cherry-pick. Here’s the chapter (PDF):

Chapter 4:
Give Boomers Room for Choices

Small World: I referenced a 2004 Chicago Tribune article by John Handley in my book.

09 March 2009

My Barbie!

Barbie1 What’s more Boomer than Barbie?

She’s been through all the cultural upheavals and survived

She’s created controversy

She’s been embraced and banned by parents

She has her own syndrome

And she’s still causing trouble.

Even though Barbie was born grown up, it’s her fiftieth birthday today:

ex Happy 50th to Baby Boomer Barbie
Paul Briand
Baby Boomer Examiner 
Her age makes her a Baby Boomer and -- in a way, despite the ditsiness often applied to her and Vbarbieespecially her name -- she is somewhat representative of how Baby Boomers have reshaped, refined and redefined who they are over the years.

Appropriate: Forbes is throwing the biggest media bash for Barbie …

barb4 Barbie Turns 50
Edited By Anna Vander Broek and Michael Noer
She is an American icon, a business phenomenon and a real doll. Since her introduction on March 9, 1959, Mattel has sold more than 1 billion Barbie dolls, nearly 100 million of those last year alone.

Back in the dark ages of the WWW, before there were blogs, before there were social networking sites – I blogged on a social networking site and wrote about Baby Boomers.  Here’s a link to my 1998 ‘post’ celebrating Barbie’s fortieth birthday:

barb My Barbie!
It was (and still is) a phenomenon rivaling the one surrounding the Beatles: A doll not to be fed, cuddled or nurtured -- but a fantasy representation of you in the future!

Here’s how Madison Avenue did it in 1961:

What cultural upheavals?


A Barbie Poem by Amy Sterling Casil.
Update March 10: AdRantsAngela Natividad posts some great Barbie links – including a video history of Barbie commercials.

06 March 2009

Call for ban on use of the word 'retirement'

Again, a NostraChuckus prediction comes true:

mh Call for ban on use of the word 'retirement'
A LEADING psychologist has called for a ban on the word retirement, saying it no longer reflects the reality of growing old for the baby boomer generation …

The very word 'retirement' is from the French phrase retirer, meaning to draw back from. It no longer represents the hopes and aspirations of the baby boomer generation, according to Ms. Langcaster-James. "The third age will present something of a blank canvas for baby boomers," she said … "They do not see retirement as when they wind down and leave things behind. Instead, it is all about seizing the opportunities it presents."

A quote from my book (2005):

NyrenPB 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.)

Two previous posts about retirement:

Time to Retire the 'R' Word

This sounds familiar.

ft Dick Stroud says: “Maybe”

I wonder what a psychologist would say about my potent powers of prognostication ...

05 March 2009

Commercials are good for you.

Good for clients/advertisers? Good for ad agencies?  Or … you be the judge:

nytLiked the Show? Maybe It Was the Commercials.
By Benedict Carey
So why is it that commercial interruptions always ruin TV programs?  Maybe they don’t. In two new studies, researchers who study consumer behavior argue that interrupting an experience, whether dreary or pleasant, can make it significantly more intense.

nelson “The punch line is that commercials make TV programs more enjoyable to watch. Even bad commercials,” said Leif Nelson, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of California …

All true for most TV programs.  Scripts are structured around commercials, much like acts in a play.  The writers, directors, and editors take great pains to make sure you’re ready for a break – and ready to return after the cluster of commercials.  With dramatic pacing, they ease you in and out of the story.  If you watch a program without commercials, rhythm goes haywire, the half-dozen (non) transitions creating cognitive dissonance. 

With sports programming there are inherent transitions: innings, quarters, first downs, etc.  Just like the teams, you’re ready for a break. 

More from The New York Times piece:

In one of their papers, the authors even propose that commercial television evolved culturally to maximize enjoyment. The millions of Americans who record their favorite shows on TV may scoff; but they, too, often stop the shows to get a drink, make a call or talk. This kind of controlled interruption may represent a kind of ideal, Dr. Nelson said.

04 March 2009

Not Much New Redux

crystal_ball NostraChuckus strikes again – and again and again.

Stephen Reily of VibrantNation.com blogs about technology and Boomer women:

sr VibrantNation.com tech survey
Boomer women are early adopters of new consumer electronics
They may not know how to use all of the features on their cell phone (who does?), but a recent Vibrant Nation survey reveals that the new woman 50+ is an early adopter of first-generation consumer electronics, particularly those that vn3support her interest in music, travel and her desire to connect with family and friends.

NyrenPBSound familiar?  It would if you’d read my book, originally published four years ago in early 2005.  Two pulls:



02 March 2009

The Brain Games Game

Not the greatest press lately for Brain Games:

coolestgadgets Brain Training games no better than crosswords, experts say
Expensive electronic brain trainers … are no better than keeping the mind young and sharp than the daily crossword puzzle …

bbc 'Brain training' claims dismissed
… Results did not show that it was any better than standard computer games …

Brain games do/don't work: the debate continues
guardian The meta-analysis concluded "that there was no evidence indicating that structured cognitive intervention programs had an impact on the progression of dementia in the healthy elderly population."

$80 million per year 'brain exercise' industry a crock?
scienceblog"The brain aging products sold today can be a financial drain, decrease participation in more proven effective lifestyle interventions, like exercise, and potentially undermine cognitive health by frustrating the "worried well" if poorly designed."

My first exposure to the recent spate of brain games was at the 2004 Boomer Business Summit.  I scratched my not-too-bright head and wondered what the difference was between a brain game and any mind-bending game: Rubik's Cube, Scrabble, Sudoku, etc.  Obviously, this new crop of revolutionary IQ busters improved your brain power while all the others were, I guess, just for laughs. 

chess And that’s what bothered me about the marketing – and still does.  Are these new-fangled blinking lights on a screen the best way, the only way to keep your noggin nimble?  This seems to be the claim.  Or are they a new breed in a long line of cognitive games that go back to counting pebbles on a cave floor?

You certainly get the ‘hard-sell’ impression that if you don’t buy and play these games, eventually your brain will leak out of your nose and ears.  Why not just tell the truth?  These are high-tech, stimulating computer-generated exercises that will help keep your mind sharp - are structured, measurable to some degree (so they’re useful for medical research), and quite entertaining.  And there are a lot of them – so you won’t get bored just playing one over and over. 

They’re as good for you as crossword puzzles.