13 July 2011

Non-Diversity = Solipsism

I was watching a commercial.  A twenty-something talked about how he’d moved back in with his parents, but they were sleeping. Then we see them in a car (the spot was advertising the car) and on their way to have fun doing something or other.  He was microwaving his dinner.  A mildly amusing spot.

imageIf a gremlin had whispered in my ear, “What’s the target market for this ad?” I would’ve shrugged.  If the gremlin then put a thinking cap on my head, I probably would’ve said, “Well, the kid. After all, it’s all about him. He should buy one of these cars so he could go have some fun … or something.”

Days later I stumbled on an online industry pub piece about the campaign which included a few more spots with the same theme. One had a twenty-something sitting forlornly, babbling away and staring at her computer while her parents were in their car, having tons of fun.  The other I don’t remember. 

But here’s what was bewildering:

It seems like a bold move, marketing a new vehicle toward baby boomers and away from younger buyers …

The spots were targeting Baby Boomers.  Yet the themes revolved around Millennials, with Boomers portrayed as smiling, vapid – with no real personalities whatsoever. 

Not that this surprised me:

Why does the media think Boomers are smiling, vapid idiots?
Actually, there are two distinct demos – something marketers need to know:
  • Baby Boomers who  scream and jump in the air on the beach
  • Baby Boomers who scream and jump in the air on their motor scooters.

I left a comment attached to the article:

Spots that star Millennials but, at least from what you tell me, are targeting Baby Boomers.  I guess if you want to target Millennials, you should get a bunch of Baby Boomers to star in the ads, and have them talk about their kids.

Someone commented on my comment:

You nailed it Chuck! My reaction (albeit with an agency skew) is that these spots are targeting BOOMERS, but written by 20-somethings? … Young creatives (are there really any other kind?) can't write to BOOMERS…so they write to please themselves. As a BOOMER many of us see right through this common occurrence.

I answered:

Yup.  That's my book, my blog. I first wrote about it in 2003.  Here's a piece from 2006: http://bit.ly/pnL1fC

The 'boomers' in this campaign are vapid, mindless caricatures, simply window dressing for some young creative.

And here’s the best part: In another article, a creative from the car ad actually explained the genesis of the campaign:

***** says a lot of the humor and interplay in the ads came from "All of us [millennials] at ***** having conversations about our own parents…

Well, duh.

This campaign reminds me of another one:

imageBaby Boomers as iPhone window … I mean, screen dressing.
I saw this ad a few months ago, liked it, but said to myself, “Did they ever miss the mark. It should have been done from the grandmother’s point of view...”

Wouldn’t these spots have been a tad better if they’d been from the parents’ point of view?  If the older principals had been interesting and funny? You also would’ve been in and around the car for more time (that’s what they were trying to sell, by the way). 

And here’s a really silly idea: Maybe you could’ve actually worked into the scenarios something about the car’s features.

Take a look at this recent post:
Diversity = Productivity Redux

For more about why most ad agencies are clueless when targeting Baby Boomers:

Introduction: The Geritol Syndrome (PDF)

Chapter One: Why Companies and Ad Agencies Need Baby Boomers (PDF)