21 March 2013

AARP Is All New Redux: Part I

AARP is ‘rebranding’ itself for the umpteenth time.

There’s a thinly-veiled chapter in my book ©2005 about the organization and its B2B/B2C advertising.  I never mention AARP by name – ‘cause I’m too nice a guy:

… 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!"

Let me not bore you with their varied forays, bumbling or competent.  If interested, a few posts:

19 February 2007
Food fights, Balloons and Dancing Gorillas

16 May 2007
Music for Grownups?

05 May 2008
AARP's Chicken Coop Coup?

25 August 2008
Goodbye, Jukebox. Hello, Jennie Chin Hansen.

24 July 2012
Picking On The Big Boys & Girls: AARP

International Journalist and Researcher Joop Koopman (based in NYC) attended the recent ASA Conference and penned a report for a large and influential publishing house headquartered in Europe.  He has permitted me to quote from it:

AARP is making some key adjustments. It’s not-yet-officially launched “Life Reimagined” and “Create the Good” projects…are clearly meant to update the appeal of the organization beyond an overly familiar organization (suffering from an image of dullness and predictability) that … offers discounts, and sells insurance.

No kidding. Check out those links to my posts. I’ve been saying this for years:

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

Back to Mr. Koopman’s Report:

“We want to enhance people’s quality of life,” says Jody Holtzman, AARP’s SVP, Thought Leadership.

Holtzman insists that the AARP genuinely wants to become more relevant to members…many of whom only stay members for just a few years after first turning 50.

Wow. I knew the percentage of Boomers joining AARP was low compared to previous generations (although the actual numbers stay relatively steady because there are so many of us), but had no idea that people join AARP, then dump their memberships after a few years.

Someone explain to me what this is all about:

imageWelcome to Life Reimagined – An idea from AARP
Powerful tools to help you discover your unique gifts and explore new possibilities for the road ahead.

Sounds a bit condescending to me – not unlike another site targeting Boomers:

30 July 2012
Next Avenue
… Isn’t it a tad patronizing to assume that Baby Boomers need to be taught how to live and handle their lives?  Just reading that makes me itchy and queasy.

The AARP site urges you to join and gather up calling cards that look a bit like playing cards from Old Maid:


image  om

imageThe site design is horrific: Teensy, spongy, light-gray fonts for squinting, centered paragraphs for headache-inducing reading, and cheesy cartoon characters that a four-year-old would find insulting.

Many of The Expert Advisors, among them Steve Gillon and Dr. Bill Thomas, are top notch.

This should be front and center – not buried in the hierarchy: Real Stories.

The other new site is great (except for the design)…

imageCreate The Good connects you with volunteer opportunities to share your life experiences, skills and passions in your community.

image… although the about page is much better than the landing page. It should be the landing page.  And I might rearrange it so you wouldn’t have to scroll to read the piece about Ethel Percy Andrus.

I punched in my zip and a dozen interesting volunteer opportunities popped up.  I’ve bookmarked a few.  Excellent service provided by AARP.

My point: If adults are looking for relevant information about this or that, give them relevant information. We don’t want to play games unless we want to play games. We’re not children. We’ve already played Go Fish, Old Maid, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders.