30 July 2012

Picking On The Big Boys & Girls, Part III: Next Avenue

About two years ago Twin Cities Public Television announced a project dubbed Next Avenue:

Public Broadcasters to Launch 'Next Avenue(SM)' Multimedia Initiative to Super-Serve and Engage Baby Boomers
$5 million in grants from The Atlantic Philanthropies, the General Mills Foundation and the Medtronic Foundation will support Next Avenue's plans to embrace boomers…

I applauded the idea, but wasn’t thrilled with the way they were promoting it:

27 September 2010
Next Avenue: Baby Boomers & PBS
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_n77PqIjyySk/TJ_-N2DouHI/AAAAAAAAEWg/xnP9PIsgg3M/image_thumb%5B3%5D.png?imgmax=800Maybe this silly positioning will initially attract underwriters and PBS affiliates – but branding the project as a middle-aged pre-school when promoting it to the public…

I also warned about relying too much on the ‘multiplatform’ concept – not dismissing it altogether but knowing multiplatform is code for web sites, social media, etc.   PBS should concentrate on what they do: Television.

imageIn May, Next Avenue premiered with a bit of ballyhoo – but it’s only a website:

Next Avenue(SM), New PBS System Website, to Be Inspirational and Informative Hub for Booming 50+ Population

There’s some plucked video on the site, and under the Next Avenue umbrella are a handful of PBS/Create TV offerings that have aired for years.

How’s the website doing?  Alexa tells us this:


Notice the tiny traffic bump in the beginning of July.  I think this was when PBS began airing promos for the site.

Through the grapevine I’ve heard that it’s been difficult raising money and/or finding underwriters for Next Avenue television projects.  Don’t take my word for it, except my word that it’s a rumor.        

Let’s hope the $5 million in grants (promised or wishful thinking?) wasn’t all spent on the website.

More from me, and more from Going Like Sixty.

26 July 2012

Picking On The Big Boys & Girls, Part II: The Presidential Campaigns

As I write this, Mitt Romney’s folks are getting pummeled by pundits for allowing the Obama folks to define Mr. Romney.
Never let the competition define you.  (This is likewise true in more noble pursuits such as advertising.)

Way back in 2008, John McCain’s folks tried to define Barack Obama, pinning the tag “Celebrity” on him to cheapen his image.  That didn’t take, but could have.  Obama’s folks countered with tagging their candidate as a breath of fresh air.  Good for them.

What I find oddly ironic: Today it seems as if the Obama folks have taken their cue from the McCain folks, tagging their candidate as a celebrity:

Maybe it’s just yours truly, but this approach gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I don’t want to go to his birthday party.  If I donate money to his campaign, I want it to help his reelection.  Don’t buy me a cupcake with it.

And, it’s all set up sort of like a lottery (or just like a lottery).  Your chance of winning is a million-or-more to one.  That’s a lot of losers. If I donate to Obama’s reelection and ENTER to WIN, I don’t want to end up thinking of myself as a loser.

Baby Boomers’ votes are very important in this election, especially in swing states.  Their concerns, regardless of political leanings, probably don’t include the distribution of cupcakes.
For an excellent overview of the Baby Boomer vote, read Brent Green’s piece in The Huffington Post:

Obama vs. Romney: Strategies to Capture Critical Boomers in Battleground States
imageMiddle-aged and older adults living in battleground or "swing states" represent 41.90 percent of the population in those states. So the 2012 presidential contest may swing on choices made by undecided Baby Boomers and older voters in just ten states.

24 July 2012

Picking On The Big Boys & Girls, Part I: AARP

From 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.

For years AARP has been promoting their magazine and other outlets to media planners and advertisers.  The first time I ran across one of these efforts was in 2004-5, and wrote about it in my 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

A few years later they tried again:


And again:

06 June 2011
Still Consuming
… AARP’s new marketing effort will promote the baby boom generation, as it ages, as a viable consumer target for advertisers.

Now they have a new B2B campaign:

In AARP’s View, Advertisers Need to Focus
The New York Times
A new campaign aimed at advertisers themselves features people in their 50s and early 60s, and argues that brands should be focusing on them, not people ages 18 to 34, commonly referred to by the marketers who covet them as millennials.

There’s not much new (if anything):

“The advertising industry in general puts an overemphasis on youth, and when boomers were young that was a very good advertising strategy, because when boomers were 35 in ’75 or ’85, there were 70 million of them,” Mr. Perello said.

… If there is a tendency to pitch to younger consumers, one reason might be the blush of youth among those creating the ads.

Sounds familiar.  The first chapter of my book (PDF):

Why Companies and Ad Agencies Need Baby Boomers
0976697319.01.… Partly to save their hides, ad agencies turned their creative departments over to twenty-somethings. The sheer size of Baby Boomers made them the market—composed of scores of unwieldy cohorts. By attrition, this would have occurred naturally. It just happened ten or fifteen years sooner than with previous generations coming of age.

Barely out of college, Baby Boomers were in control of marketing and advertising to themselves—and became successful at it. After all, we knew the market.

… Along the way, there was a major marketing disconnect. We’re still the largest and richest demographic—but as far as advertising agen- cies are concerned, we’re off the radar.

How did this happen?

Baby Boomers who worked in the advertising industry have moved on; partly by choice, partly by design. In many cases we’ve been kicked out or kicked upstairs. Natural attrition. It was meant to be. It’s the normal course of events.

We have left a positive and important legacy in the marketing and advertising worlds: racial and ethnic inclusion, lifestyle inclusion, tons more perceived markets.

But we also left advertising agencies the Youth Culture.

… Advertising agencies are image-conscious and want to be hip (again, residue from Baby Boomers). Not only do they not want to market to Baby Boomers—they simply want to do what they do best: market to themselves. They certainly don’t want to be known as an agency that markets to older folks (The Geritol Syndrome).

More from the NYT piece:

Much of the advertising in the June/July issue of the magazine is what might be expected, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, a blood sugar monitoring device, and amplifying earphones for television viewers with hearing loss.

But there also are a few ads from brands that have nothing to do with infirmities, the type with which AARP hopes to gain more traction, like Stouffer’s Farmers’ Harvest meals and the Bose Wave music system.

imageSounds about right to me.  From 2009:

Boomer Backlash II
The Backlash:
If every time someone over fifty sees a commercial targeting them and it’s always for an age-related product or service, pretty soon their eyes will glaze over, they’ll get itchy and grumpy.

The Real Issue: Marketing and advertising folks grasping the fact that Boomers will be buying billions (trillions?) of dollars worth of non-age related products for the next twenty-odd years. If you target this group for toothpaste, computers, clothes, food, nail polish, sporting equipment, toenail clippers - anything at all (almost), and you do it with respect and finesse, they will appreciate and consider your product.

This new campaign portrays baby boomers as…  

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.

At least it’s an improvement over dead or crazed. 

Disclaimer:  The target markets for this campaign are media planners and advertisers – so what do I know.  My issue has to due with the portrayal of people 50-70 and a spillover into what might end up as B2C campaigns.

I would have used people in real situations – hire a few top-notch photographers and send them every which way (with someone trailing  with release forms, etc.).  No hokey ad copy. 

And/or something like these:


This weekend while at Costco, I caught a grandmother (she shall remain anonymous) sending pictures of dresses to her granddaughter so the child could pick the one she wanted.  Instant virtual shopping.


Next: Picking On The Big Boys & Girls, Part II: The Presidential Campaigns

17 July 2012

Banner Ads = Happy Meal Toys…???

There’s a fellow at Forbes who says that banner advertising is now akin to Happy Meal Toys:

imageThe New Price Of A Web Ad: Free?
By Jeff Bercovici
… To be clear, Microsoft wouldn’t really be “giving away” these ads, just turning them into a value-added offering whose price would be woven into the price of the premium ads it wants to push. In effect, a cheap banner ad becomes the crummy plastic toy in the Happy Meal.

I respectfully disagree.  Happy Meal Toys are GREAT. 

I’m not suggesting that you should be taking your grandchildren to McDonald’s – but if you have any or happen to be tending kiddies for whatever reason, you know what powerful magnets Happy Meal Toys are.  For better or worse, they rank as one of the smartest and most effective advertising/marketing/promotional gimmicks in the history of civilization.

Banner Ads?  Not so much.  Almost not at all:

Click this ad. 0.051% do.
… a tiny fraction of people ever click on an ad. In fact, 99% of stable cookies examined never click on an ad … optimization of campaigns to achieve higher CTR may in fact be reducing brand ROI.

Digital Distractions
Advertisers are getting wise to the drawbacks of marketing in the digital nest.

Digital Distractions II
I wasn’t planning on doing a Digital Distractions II – but there are so many digital distractions that it’s difficult to be distracted.

From The Ad Contrarian:

Dhttp://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRt1O-32l17sfosgFFoLeTfok6LeUOd9o0U8SI4oIZg0C4gqXBzPgisplay's Dismal Dysfunction

Tongue-In-Cheek Truth: The “value-added” isn’t the toy, but the meal.

02 July 2012

Sounds familiar…

A round-up of recent Déjà vu-ish offerings:


Senior living developments upgrade offerings for baby boomers
July 01, 2012 by Lisa Kocian
…Choice is the buzzword for a wave of high-end senior communities opening or expanding in area communities…

advbb (2)From my book Advertising to Baby Boomers ©2005, 2007:

Chapter Four: Give Boomers Room for Choices
….When developing or molding a community for Baby Boomers, start with the concept of ―neutral. Do not confuse this with ―sameness. For example, when designing an indoor community space, do not assume that it will be used mostly for Bingo. Fashion it with flexibility so that it may be used for almost anything...

Product Packaging for Baby Boom Generation
By Rodica Ceslov, Published June 25, 2012
…Product packaging for the baby boom generation is a major issue for them as individuals and also for the pharma industry as a whole, as they recognize the huge market that needs to accommodate expectations.

I’ve talked about pills, but first talked about candy:

Boomers in Candyland
12 June 2006
"In England, they've done a lot of studies about 'wrap rage,' and it goes much deeper than not being able to open a bottle of medicine, for instance. It's anything, any consumer goods packaging that people have trouble opening, and as Baby Boomers are starting to age, they are very sensitive to this."

Why Baby Boomers are the innovators of the future
By Dominic Basulto
Baby Boomers are starting companies at a faster pace than ever before …  This means we may be witnessing a passing of the innovation baton to members of the older generation.

The book, this from 2005:

ADVERTISING TO BABY BOOMERS Targets Clients and Entrepreneurs (2005)
image…A large section of the book is dedicated to helping Baby Boomer entrepreneurs get their marketing and advertising up and running.

Despite the Buzz, Social-Media Users Still Not Really Interested in Your Ads
by Rance Crain
The problem with Facebook and other social media is that they were not designed to carry advertising.

imageAll my posts on the subject:

The Social Media - WOMM - Web Advertising Posts

imageBoom-ing Business: Analysts Suggest Retailers Focus on Baby Boomers
… The Great Recession may have sent boomers for a loop, but smart retailers will realize this group is still a powerful purchasing force...

I wish you could read my Pilgrim’s Tale.  It’s all about that.