31 January 2010

Disruptive Demographics: Global Aging, Technology & Innovation

Complementing Laurie Orlov’s Aging In Place Technology Watch and Dick Stroud’s Mobile apps for Baby Boomers, Joseph Coughlin has a new blog:

image Disruptive Demographics: Global Aging, Technology & Innovation
Insights on the impact of aging and technological change on innovations in society, business and government.

image Dr. Coughlin heads up MIT AgeLab.  He also puts on a great show when presenting at conferences and seminars.  Here’s one I had something to do with:

While on a private day-long consult for a major pharma company and their marketing agency, I met Dr. Joseph Coughlin, founding Director of the MIT AgeLab … The numbers-cruncher wore a very conservative, gray suit, the academic a dark pinstripe and loud bow tie, and the ad guy a mock turtleneck and over-the-top orangey sport coat. We were straight from central casting.

Dr. Coughlin’s premiere post dissects the delicate balance between new technology in automobiles and the necessary ‘multitasking’:

How do vehicle designers and engineers manage the marriage between consumer electronics and the dashboard to give drivers the mobile lifestyles they may desire but not the distractions they may introduce?

image This will also be an issue when marketing and advertising automobiles with all the fancy gizmos and widgets. The ‘auto’ in  automobile is taking on new meanings.  

So bookmark Disruptive Demographics.

28 January 2010

Virtual Professor Chuck

imageIt all started around 1999 when I was writing on the web about Baby Boomers.  My articles were getting hits from a University of Southern California intranet site.  I thought for sure that some professor of English or Literature or an artsy subject like that had made my online scribblings mandatory reading. 

Then I found out the truth: the course was about Gerontology.

image Skip ahead a few years, and yours truly pens a book about advertising to baby boomers.  I was floored when it was selected as a Classroom Resource by The Advertising Educational Foundation.  I still get emails from students and professors around the world.  The book is in the libraries of many colleges and universities.

Professor Chuck.  Funny.  At least to me.

Now I’m getting oodles of whacks from another college intranet site – and it seems as if one of my PowerPoint presentations is required watching

image The hits are coming from Southern Oregon University’s Blackboard System.

image Those poor kids … having to listen to some old guy ramble on and on

Bookmark and Share

25 January 2010

A Quick Peek at Retirement Homes of Tomorrow

From MarketWatch:

image Rough outlines
By Steve Kerch
… When it comes to retirement living, golf courses are out … Bike paths and walking trails are the new greens and fairways.

As usual, that sounds familiar.  Years ago you could’ve had a ‘quick peek’ at this MarketWatch piece. From my book ©2005:


image Read the chapter (PDF):

Chapter 4:

Give Boomers Room for Choices

21 January 2010

No News News: Super Bowl Ads Highly Effective

I’m one of the few bloggers to take pride in bringing you no news news. I’ve been offering my readers no news news for years.

With the Death of Television, today I offer you this new no news news:

Super Bowl Ads Still Sell
by Steve Hall/AdRants
image Despite the uncertain economy, three out of four Americans are still more likely to research or buy a product after seeing it advertised during the Super Bowl … 64% would be disappointed if advertising during the game disappeared … 66% still remember their favorite brand advertiser from last year's Super Bowl while only 39% remember who won the game.

JN Feel free to ‘tweet’ or ‘facebook’ this no news news – so a half dozen more people can be enlightened. But please do it before the Super Bowl. Afterwards, hundreds of millions of people will be too busy researching and buying products they saw advertised, and my very important ‘social marketing/viral’ advertising message might get lost in the ethereal vortex.

19 January 2010

The most vibrant and exciting consumer group in the world.

imageAdvertising to Baby Boomers is #1 on my publisher’s bestsellers list.

Paramount Market Publishing

Not too long ago it was #3:


My best guess why: I’d love to say it’s the book, the reviews, the word of mouth in marketing circles – but I bet it’s simply the subject matter. Marketing professionals are finally getting the message from various sources around the world that advertising to Baby Boomers is the smartest business strategy for almost all products and services – and will be for the next fifteen to twenty years.

A quote from the book (©2005, 2007):

imageIt’s going to be up to companies to be proactive when dealing with advertising agencies. Quality control of your product doesn’t stop at the entrances of Madison Avenue’s finest, or at the doors of small local or regional advertising agencies. If companies put pressure on agencies, and demand 45-plus creatives for products aimed at the 45-plus market, then they will find out that Baby Boomers are still “the single most vibrant and exciting consumer group in the world.”


15 January 2010

Say what?

image NostraChuckus strikes again.

In 2007 I critiqued some ads for Selling To Seniors.  Pulls from one:

Hearing problems as one gets older have affected humankind for eons. For this recent crop of folks over 50, listening to loud music when they were young has had a negligible effect on their hearing loss.

Miracle Ear Certainly, a handful of professional rock musicians playing every night for years and years while plopped in front of amplifiers now have some serious hearing problems.

But for 99% of baby boomers, going to a rock concert every so often (even often) has made them deaf? I think not. And even if I’m wrong, why would you want to make your target market feel guilty? Why would you want to beat it over their heads that it’s their fault that they can’t hear their "grandchild’s giggle"?

imageWhat about people who did protect their ears, who did "listen" by not listening—and still have hearing loss? This ad makes them feel worse about their predicament. You’re either guilty because you did—or cruelly cheated by fate if you didn’t. While the leading causes of hearing loss are genetic and simply getting older, most studies confirm that everyday life in metropolitan areas is a recent contributor. So lay the blame elsewhere ..

Now there’s this:

Say what? Baby boomers not losing hearing as much as parents did
image By John Fauber
While everyday life may be getting noisier, actual hearing loss from one generation to the next has declined, said Weihai Zhan, lead author of the study, which was published Friday in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Overall, the baby boomers had 31% less hearing loss than their parents.

I knew Mom & Dad weren’t playing those Benny Goodman records loud enough.

14 January 2010

If you’re not up on apps …

image Dick Stroud is excited.  With the help of wise outfit MotherApp®, Mr. Stroud now has his own iPhone app - and a new blog to blog about it:

image Mobile apps for Baby Boomers
Everything you could want to know about mobile apps that are especially useful for ageing consumers be they Baby Boomers, Seniors, Matures, 50-plus or even oldies.

work I remember the thrill of HTML – and tossing up my first web page in 1996.  The second one even had an animated GIF!

There have been a few technological advances since then (although sometimes I wonder how ‘advanced’ they really are). 

From my book (page 161):


imageI have iTunes installed and an iPod is floating around here – but my phone is considered dumb. I don’t plan on sending it to Harvard anytime soon. 

However, a very brainy phone with a handful of advanced degrees lives here. Every so often yours truly and Dr. Droid have deep, rewarding, philosophical thumb-dances. Because I’m not nutty about mobile media, I have no idea if Mr. Stroud’s app would work on the thing. 

So bookmark Dick Stroud’s companion blog.  Or, if you have iTunes and one of those sassy iPhones, download the app.

11 January 2010

Social Marketing on the skids.

There’s a piece in BusinessWeek about social marketing (whatever that means) for the Ford Fiesta:

How Ford Got Social Marketing Right
imageThe idea was: let's go find twenty-something YouTube storytellers who've learned how to earn a fan community of their own. [People] who can craft a true narrative inside video, and let's go talk to them. And let's put them inside situations that they don't get to normally experience/document. Let's add value back to their life. They're always looking, they're always hungry, they're always looking for more content to create. I think this gets things exactly right.

Hmmm.  Twenty-somethings only.  I guess they forgot about this:

What Next From The Crystal Ball of Common Sense?
image 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?

Back to the promotion: YouTube ‘storytellers’ get free cars for six months (or forever, it’s not clear) and drive around, videotaping their exploits.

Sounds like a jingle writing contest to me.  Not that social marketing or jingle writing contests are bad things.  They’re okay things.

Here’s one of the Ford Fiesta jingles getting attention:

Fine.  But for crazy antics, sound effects, and music -  I prefer Spike Jones:

More from the BusinessWeek article:

The effects of the campaign were sensational … Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales. The results came at a relatively small cost. The Fiesta Movement is reputed to have cost a small fraction of the typical national TV campaign.

Except … as a commenter noted:

image There is a major blunder in the article: "The effects of the campaign were sensational... Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales." In fact, the Fiesta is not yet on sale outside Europe and Asia, and no potential customer has so much as driven a US-spec model. The referenced "sales" are most likely the non-binding, no-deposit reservations made on the Fiesta website. The cars used in the campaign were European-market loaners, and we'll have to wait a few months to see how many North Americans actually buy the car.

Yes, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll also have to wait and see how long Ford waits (after cars are in lots) before they decide to do what they do in England … making the Fiesta a top seller.  It’s called advertising:

And when it comes to viral videos of the Ford Fiesta – here’s the most popular one of all – uploaded and ‘remixed’ by dozens of ‘citizen marketers’ and seen by millions:

Ford Fiesta

05 January 2010

Twiggy & Me

image As most of my readers know, NostraChuckus’ predictions are uncannily somewhat accurate.  After all, those are hazy images in that crystal ball.  The Great Soothsayer can’t always make out the details, the wrinkles. 

And you’re not supposed to, either – especially when gazing into ads for cosmetics.

A couple of years ago, NostraChuckus was the only one to divine the real photoshopped picture from the fake (read the comments):

Guess Which Photo Was Retouched?


Another Online Diviner, Ronni Bennett, is rarely, if ever, fooled:

rbThe Ad is a Fraud 
Eagle-eye Ronni Bennett unmasked this ad for a wrinkle cream:


Now, Our Mother Country is taking action against such non-magickal practices in advertising:

image Twiggy's Photoshopped Olay ads banned in England
… Beauty company Olay debuted its Definity eye cream campaign depicting model Twiggy looking far younger, smoother, and firmer than her then 59 years should suggest. The '60s fashion star appeared virtually wrinkle-free in the ads and, since her baby-faced visage was selling anti-aging cream to older women, quite a few people—including bloggers, news outlets, and the British Parliament—grew quite disturbed.

Way back in July 2009, NostraChuckus mentioned something about Twiggy’s airbrushed Olay ad in one of his lantern and shadow shows.  It’s only about a minute-and-a-half in – so you don’t have to watch the whole thing:

imageimage I guess what I find odd is that real Ms. Lawson looks quite attractive to me.  A dollop of Olay, a dash of makeup, and she’s good to go.  Better than good.  

Of course, yours truly at fifty-nine (the same age as Twiggy, give or take a few months) looks years and years younger.  I have to get graphic artists to add wrinkles, flaps, and fat sags to my images.  Here’s a recent untouched one:

03 January 2010

2010: The Year of The Baby Boomer Brain

Not that the last few years haven’t had plenty of neurons bouncing about and flashing all sorts of surprising info about middle-aged noggins:

image What Kind of Genius Are You? 
A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types - quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet …

Brains More Distracted, Not Slower with Age

Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain

My Brain, Your Brain, iBrain

Baby boomers are smarter than you think
Researchers have confirmed what many mature people already know – intelligence actually gets sharper with age.

Aging Brain shifts gears to emotional advantage

Your Brain on Games

But in April get ready for The Book:

image The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain
The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind
Barbara Strauch – Author
For many years, scientists thought that the human brain simply decayed over time and its dying cells led to memory slips, fuzzy logic, negative thinking, and even depression. But new research from neuroscien­tists and psychologists suggests that, in fact, the brain reorganizes, improves in important functions, and even helps us adopt a more optimistic outlook in middle age. Growth of white matter and brain connectors allow us to recognize patterns faster, make better judgments, and find unique solutions to problems. Scientists call these traits cognitive expertise and they reach their highest levels in middle age.

image Ms. Strauch is the Medical Science and Health Editor for The New York Times.  Her recent piece reads like a warm-up for the book:

How to Train the Aging Brain
Over the past several years, scientists have looked deeper into how brains age and confirmed that they continue to develop through and beyond middle age.

I liked this:

The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.

From my book Advertising to Baby Boomers ©2005, 2007:




So a lot of us will be doing a lot of thinking over the next thirty-odd years.