28 January 2011

NostraChuckus Predicts The Future of AARP

imageFamed Soothsayer and advertising gadfly NostraChuckus has been startling the world for years with his mundane prognostications:

NostraChuckus Scratches His Head

Another déjà vu …

Memed again.

NostraChuckus Scoops New York Times

NostraChuckus Conjures The Specter Of NostraChuckus

What Next From The Crystal Ball of Common Sense?

AARP has been swirling around in his magickal, vaporous orb for nigh onto half a decade. It began as a chapter in his book:

… 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

Along with many, many posts:

Music for Grownups?

AARP & Microsoft:Technology & Baby Boomers

AARP Global Network

AARP Targets Media Planners

AARP’s 2008 Best Employers For Workers Over 50

imageGoodbye, Jukebox. Hello, Jennie Chin Hansen.

Food fights, Balloons and Dancing Gorillas

And …

imageAARP's Chicken Coop Coup? (2008)
I've picked on AARP's advertising and marketing through the years. I think they can handle it. They're big boys and girls…

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

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

No surprise: Three years later, NostraChuckus’ prediction comes true….

Never underestimate the prognosticative powers of  The Crystal Ball of Common Sense.

24 January 2011

The Creative Art Of Growing Old

A new book, profiled on NPR:

image'Lastingness': The Creative Art Of Growing Old
Delbanco examines artists who either maintained or advanced their work past the age of 70 — from Claude Monet, to Giuseppe Verdi, to Georgia O'Keeffe…

'Lastingness': The Creative Art Of Growing Old

I’ve talked about this for years, as have others:

What Kind of Genius Are You? (2006)
What he (David Galenson, University of Chicago) has found is that genius - whether in art or architecture or even business - is not the sole province of 17-year-old Picassos and 22-year-old Andreessens.

From the New York Times (along with a grab from my book):

NostraChuckus Scoops NYT II
imageWhen does creativity peak? The second-act aces make a case for middle to late age. Take a look at some of the people who have not simply performed well but done their best work in their later years.

Advertising creative?  Young or old?  Or both?

HR/Brain Roll
Truth is, you can analyze marketing fodder all day and night, read countless books about marketing to Baby Boomers, attend advertising and marketing conventions around the world, and soak up everything all the experts have to say. Much of what is out there is valuable and useful, some practically required reading, others instructive and illuminating. But if you plan on implementing a creative strategy, and turn it over to a different generation of advertising professionals—you'll forfeit the natural sensibilities required to generate vital campaigns.

Mix this all in with the wise words of Rosser Reeves:

"No, I don't think a 68-year-old copywriter can write with the kids. That he's as creative. That he's as fresh. But he may be a better surgeon. His ad may not be quite as fresh and glowing as the Madison Ave. fraternity would like to see it be, and yet he might write an ad that will produce five times the sales. And that's the name of the game, isn't it?"

And you get this: Hire Baby Boomer Creatives

Download the first chapter of my book.

19 January 2011

Alzheimer's: He won’t be needing them anymore.

FrazzledCatThis blog seems to be on a health kick lately. Usually the catalysts for posts are news pieces – so blame the media, not me. I’m as dilapidated and mentally frazzled as I ever was.

There was this recently:

Uh-oh. We’re in trouble…
The good news you know: many Baby Boomers will live longer, healthier lives – more so than in any previous generations. The bad news you also know: by 2046 a huge chunk Boomers will have passed on, and another huge chunk will be dealing with acute diseases and afflictions.

imageA powerful, poignant piece by Nancy Stearns Bercaw in the NYT:

When All Isn’t Enough to Foil Alzheimer’s
As my father approached middle age he began to experiment on himself, with diet supplements. By age 60 he was taking 78 tablets a day. He tracked down anything that offered the possibility of saving brain cells and killing free radicals: Omega 3s, 6s, 9s; vitamins E and C; ginkgo biloba, rosemary and sage; folic acid; flaxseed.

After retiring from his neurology practice in Naples, Fla., he spent hours a day doing math. Even when I was visiting, he’d sit silently on his leather recliner with a calculator to verify the accuracy of calculations he did by memory.

Very sad.  So be prepared.

Unfortunately, the advertising/marketing industry - along with much of the media - isn’t preparing you.  They are lying to you. From August 2010:

Alzheimer's: No Magic Bullet
It’s time to cease referencing Alzheimer’s when marketing products and services. There are plenty of valid reasons for eating healthy foods, exercising, or challenging yourself with new mind and body activities. Stop flashing the false hope of staving off a perplexing disease that frightens every Baby Boomer.

More from Nancy Stearns Bercaw:

While he watched a televised baseball game one afternoon, I walked into his den and eyed the wall of supplements he used to take — bookcase after bookcase of pills with names like Memoral and Sharp Mind. Won’t be needing them anymore.

17 January 2011

Marketers Should Be Wary of Playing Up Living Long

imageBuzz McClain, a twisted freelance writer and Editor of Selling To Seniors, called me not too long ago. We chatted for a bit, and out popped this:

Marketers Should Be Wary of Playing Up Living Long
Rarely has someone in marketing been as frank as Chuck Nyren. The international creative strategist, consultant, columnist, speaker and award-winning copywriter doesn't hesitate to take the sizzle right out of anyone's seemingly misguided marketing campaign, particularly those aimed at Boomers…

imageThe piece is behind a pay wall, so I’d cause even more trouble if I drilled a hole and sucked out more. 

What prompted Buzz to buzz me:

03 January 2011
Uh-oh. We’re in trouble…
The problem is that well-meaning articles in the press like the USA Today piece, along with mountains of 50+ marketing fodder, are setting up Boomers for a psychological fall. There will be a backlash.

Buzz McClain on Boomer Authority™.

13 January 2011

Two Experts, One Superb Article, One Superb Presentation

A couple of gents I greatly admire continue producing cutting-edge, trenchant, authoritative work.  While no surprise to me, the timing of their releases were only hours apart.  What’s a conscientious blogger to do? 

Each is worth its own post here – but we’re living in an era of austerity, so…

Dick Stroud, the Emperor of Boomer Apps, chose his 50+ marketing blog to embed an article penned for The Marketing Society:

Connecting With Older Consumers (PDF)
Apple’s success with its iPhone and iPad has been the consumer technology success story of the year. Dick Stroud explains why these products are particularly relevant to older consumers and the implications this has for marketers…

The combination of the app and the smart device creates a new platform for the consumption of media.

If marketers think that …. developments
are relevant only to the younger consumer,
they are making a serious mistake…

I’ve also written on this subject (and usually rip-off most of what I say from Professor Stroud):

Baby Boomers & Microsoft Advertising


Smart Phones, iPads, and Baby Boomers

Dr. Joseph Coughlin has tossed up his November 2nd presentation produced by Transportation@MIT and MIT World

The Future is Gray, Small & Female
imageThe talk (it's nearly an hour long, so grab a cup of coffee) provides an overview of three demographic driving forces: aging, household size, and the predominance of women in an older society…

Do yourself a favor. Give Dr. Coughlin’s presentation ten minutes and you’ll be hooked.

11 January 2011

The Fallaciousness Of Web Metrics

imageThe Hound of the Advertising Basket Cases, Bob Hoffman (aka The Ad Contrarian) has sniffed up some interesting, foul-smelling stuff:
… In a test of the impact that TV advertising has on online sales, a TV campaign (with no change in online advertising) resulted in a 2000% increase in online sales. 50% of this (or a lift of 1000% in sales) would be typically attributed to Google or other online media. This is a joke. Without TV the lift would be zero…
image...billions of dollars in sales are incorrectly being attributed imageto online advertisements that are completely or partially being generated by television.  This is resulting in an incorrect ratio of perceived value between television and online media...
Sounds right to me.  I’ve been screaming about the ubiquitous power of (silly retronym ahead) traditional media for years.  Here’s a slide from one of my presentations, circa 2007:
And television:
The Crystal Ball of Common Sense Goes ViralIn effect, the videos that got watched the most on the Internet are those that bought their popularity through traditional offline advertising, especially on TV.
More from Bob Hoffman:
Any ad in any medium that directs you to a website or leads you to a search is probably contributing to the inflated value of online advertising.

07 January 2011

At this very moment…

imageOn January 7th 2011, 10:16 am (PST), Advertising to Baby Boomers is the most popular book published by Paramount Market Publishing

This won’t last for long. Blink and it will be gone. That’s because PMP has a superb selection of titles and a bevy of the best business writers out there.

But … for the next few days or so, allow my ego to run amok.

05 January 2011

My New Year’s Resolution

It’s a simple one – but like most NYRs, I’ll probably break it before the end of the week.  In fact, it just occurred to me that I’m breaking it now.

The Resolution: No more scratching my head and being completely baffled by social media marketing experts telling me that consumers want to talk about products, have online conversations about toilet paper or whatever – and have even more conversations with the manufacturers of products. What an odd, insulated view of advertising and marketing.

There are a bunch of sad people on the web who define themselves as ‘citizen marketers’ – their identities ineluctably linked to some product or service. Obviously, a lot of lonely people are out there.

harddriveFor Christmas I received an external hard disk. I plugged it in and it works. I have no desire to ‘talk’ to the manufacturer or seller – unless it stops working.  Only then will I want to have a conversation.  And it may not be a pleasant one.

SOX-TAB3And Santa got me some slippers, moccasins.  Very comfortable. As I write this,  I’m taking one off to look at the label. They’re made by SOX-TAB®.  Consider me a Citizen Marketer. Finally, I’ve joined the revolution.  No doubt, millions and millions of these slippers will be sold thanks to my beneficent endorsement.

Ninety-five percent of people want to be introduced to a product, perhaps entertained a bit – and then decide for themselves if they want to buy the product. (Our job is to nudge them – a little or a lot.) 

Research? Some googling? Sure. Good idea. You might run into my nod to the hard drive somewhere.

But the huge majority of consumers have zero interest in having some sort of stilted, “two-way” virtual conversation with the product. They have better things to do. 

The other very small percent don’t have better things to do.

As for me……..

“Hello, slippers!”

03 January 2011

Uh-oh. We’re in trouble…

Or we will be soon. Rapped on the knuckles come February:

imageNever Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age
by Susan Jacoby
Anyone who has not been buried in an underground vault for the past two decades is surely aware of the media blitz touting “the new old age” as a phenomenon that enables people in their sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and beyond to enjoy rich, full, healthy, adventurous, sexy, financially secure lives that their ancestors could never have imagined. Much of this propaganda is aimed at baby boomers now in their late forties, fifties, and early sixties…

Hmmm.  Well, she’s not completely wrong.  Maybe a bit heavy-handed. (That ruler is gonna hurt.) 

Ms. Jacoby’s recent piece in the NYT:

imageReal Life Among the Old Old
You haven’t experienced cognitive dissonance until you receive a brochure encouraging you to spend thousands of dollars a year for long-term care insurance as you prepare to “defy” old age.

I haven’t read Ms. Jacoby’s book, but my guess is that I’ll agree with chunks of it. I have already. In my book and in a piece I wrote in 1995 – a few themes seem to meld, a few don’t:

Don’t Paint Too Rosy A Picture
imageA recent article in USA Today asks us to “take a moment to journey forward to 2046, when 79 million baby boomers will be 82 to 100 years old.”[1] A paragraph later, the reporter asks, “So just what kind of America will be forged by this crowd of geriatric goliaths?”

Excuse me for being an unassuming ‘David’ (or even worse, a genocidal Grim Reaper) but I doubt very much that all 79 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. will still be alive in forty years, swaggering like giants – unless the medical establishment is holding out on me.

The good news you know: many Baby Boomers will live longer, healthier lives – more so than in any previous generations. The bad news you also know: by 2046 a huge chunk Boomers will have passed on, and another huge chunk will be dealing with acute diseases and afflictions.

The problem is that well-meaning articles in the press like the USA Today piece, along with mountains of 50+ marketing fodder, are setting up Boomers for a psychological fall. There will be a backlash.

Not being a therapist, I won’t diagnose – but if it were beaten into my head over and over that things are going to be just peachy for the next forty years, that my same-aged friends will all be around laughing and cavorting while leading meaningful, vigorous lives—then, shock of shocks, many of us become incapacitated and/or drop and die – I will feel cheated. I will become depressed and disillusioned. It will happen even if I’m one of the ‘lucky’ healthy ones.

imageAsk today’s 80+ year olds about this or that and you’ll probably find that many are surprised (but relatively pleased) they’re still alive. They believe they’ve beaten the odds, for whatever reasons. Jump twenty-five, thirty years: if the myth of the non-dying, perfectly healthy Baby Boomer persists, folks in the aging industry are going to have millions of very angry octogenarians their hands. They might even blame you for all those false promises.

How should this be dealt with by marketers and advertisers? 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.)

This is all part of redefining what it means to be the ages we are. It may seem to some as pathological, believing and acting as if we’re eighteen or twenty-five – but that’s because pundits and experts suspiciously eyeing this gargantuan, spirited, unwieldy and varied hoard of middle-agers have nothing to compare it to. The only conclusion they can come to: Baby Boomers must a bit daft.

There is a big difference between thinking you are younger than you are – and not thinking that you are old. This ‘night and day’ distinction may confuse many pundits, but it does not confuse most Boomers.

Much of this new, positive attitude about our future has to do with being the beneficiaries of so many fast and furious medical advances. Some we have already taken advantage of, while others are ready and waiting for us – or right around the corner. A good example is joint and hip replacement surgery. The cane industry is in the doldrums, and we’re hoping it will never recover.

Another medical advance (still in its infancy, from what I’ve read) is pain management. This promises Baby Boomers and successive generations freedom from a fear that haunts all as we age.

There has been plenty of press about Baby Boomers and their dread of Alzheimer’s. Not much of a surprise. Alzheimer’s affects many of our parents, we’re caring for them – and nothing frightens us more than not being in control of our own destinies. However, from what I’ve read there may be some breakthroughs within the next twenty years. That’s very good news.

Am I painting too rosy a picture here? Isn’t this something I was railing against in the first few paragraphs?

Yes, but with a big difference. All the examples above have to do with the quality of life – not the quantity.

If I were digging into a marketing/advertising campaign for a client in the aging industry, I would extract as much quality inherent in the product/service – and toss out any (or most) mention of longevity. This would hold true even with basic nutritional and exercise products. A significant chunk of people who eat only healthy foods and exercise regularly die of heart attacks, get cancer, are the victims of all sorts of diseases and afflictions. You can’t fool me.

But the quality of their lives in every respect will be superior to the ones who don’t take care of themselves, or avail themselves to what’s out there in the aging industry market.

Nobody can promise you that you’ll live to be a hundred. However, you can (more or less) make a good argument that healthy lifestyles and advances in modern medicine will offer you a quality life after sixty that no preceding generation had ever imagined.

I’m fifty-five. I may die in five, ten, twenty, forty or fifty years. If you promise Baby Boomers longevity, I will know at some point that you are not telling me the truth. However, if you promise me a certain amount of quality if I take advantage of medical advances, lead a healthy lifestyle, and buy and use your products and services – I’ll probably believe you.

And I’ll continue to take your word for it until my dying day.

© 2005 Chuck Nyren

[1] 2046: A boomer odyssey
By Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY October 27, 2005

Thanks to Tony Mariani (Rabbit Ears) for his encouraging words about my 2010 Wrap-Up Presentation.

Marc Middleton has some fun ripping open Christmas presents. (Huffington Post)

01 January 2011

Baby Boomers & Microsoft Advertising

My friends down the road are thinking about targeting Baby Boomers – sort of.  On their B2B advertising site, I found this blog post:

Finding Baby Boomers with Microsoft Advertising
by Kim Farmer – MSFT

In the advertising business, it’s all about getting your message in front of the right people .. Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are one of those audiences…

A one-sheet to download.

imageNot much new in any of the above, but it’s nice to know that Boomers are on Microsoft’s radar. 

Although I’m a bit skeptical of this advice:

Some 47% of Boomers say they would click on more online ads if they were targeted to their needs.

What else would you say in a survey?  Banner ads are usually useless, targeted or not. 

What’s odd: There is no mention of the marketing possibilities on the Windows 7 Smartphone.  I guess they don’t want it to be thought of as a Fogeyfone.  Too bad:

Foretellings (May 2010)
My advertising/marketing predictions and not-technical-because-I’m-not-a-tech-guy recommendations:

  1. The visual power of the web will fade as more people use handheld devices.  Goodbye, fancy-schmancy web sites. People will get bored sifting through it all when they can find what they need with their smartphones.
  2. imageHow this will play out, I don’t know – but the ‘web’ needs to be rethought.  Accessing a page on a desktop or laptop is not the same as accessing it on a smartphone.  There will have to be two separate ‘webs’ for large screens, small screens. People will get very tired very fast clumsily negotiating bulky pages on handheld devices. Usability cannot be ignored.  Laptops and Desktops will only be utilized for deep research or visual treats. 
  3. That silly retronym “traditional advertising” will remain the premiere force for introducing people to a product or service, along with sustaining its shelf life. Television, print, radio, and billboard ads will continue to have the visceral power they’ve always had – if only for their sheer size, simplicity, and cutting-edge audio/visual qualities.  Advertising on smartphones will be considered an annoyance, invasive, and rather dinky – while marketing (coupons on steroids, and more) will flourish and dominate.

imageI also talk about this in my 2010 Review: National and International Advertising to Baby Boomers (PowerPoint Presentation)

Again, nothing new – but important:

Less than 5% of advertising dollars are currently targeted towards 35-64 year olds, more than half of the affluent US Boomer demographic is ignored entirely…

And, I bet, ignored entirely when sculpting marketing strategies on Smartphones.


Excellent 2010 wrap-up and predicted 2011 tech trends by Laurie Orlov

The Rise of Apps, iPad and Android (WSJ)