19 December 2017

What a year.

Not for advertising but for everything else.

In my corner of the ether, no progress by ad agencies targeting this unwieldy, diverse demographic.  Looking over my posts the last twelve months…

Image result for old new york timesIt’s always a treat to get up, make some coffee, open the newspaper (pixels or pulp) and read nothing new.

The three most popular posts of 2017:

My pick for must-read post of the year:

The Interminable Death of Television
imageNothing I can think of is as lively and chipper as television in its final throes.

If we all began dying as happily, healthily, slowly, and painlessly as TV, we wouldn’t fear the process - but welcome it.

My favorite post of the year:

Something Old, Something Old, Something Borrowed, Something Old
2014-11-14-beany.jpgAlong with Google Glasses, you'll also be wearing Google Nose and Google Mouth.

Back in January if the world is still around.

13 December 2017

We’re always sick.

No matter what the product or service, when Mad Ave tries to ‘reach’ us we’re always sick.  Or something’s horribly wrong. 

Even if they want us to buy a car we have to be sick first:

What happened to this lady? Did she have a heart attack?  The doctor says she has to ‘go slow’…

Well, whatever her affliction is she’ll get better if she buys this car. And exercises. And is looked after by her daughter.

According to most ads selling stuff to Boomers, we have to be sick before we can buy anything. Or, we’re naturally ill all the time and the only reason we’d buy anything is to make us well.

We’d never buy a product just because we might want it. What would be the point of that? When you’re young, you only buy products so you can be hip. When you’re old, you only buy products for medical reasons. 

I googled the car and it’s a pretty good car. But the spot tells me nothing about the car. Of course, why would I want to know anything about the car? All I need to know is that it has healing powers.

And don’t try to sell me a refrigerator unless it can cure me of something.

12 December 2017

Another Pointless Press Release

I read a press release the other day that was a mix of silly and pointless. A few news sites picked it up and fashioned their own versions. (There won’t be any links because I don’t link to silly.)

Culled from the press release and articles:

Millennials (81%) are much more likely to be influenced by advertising than Baby Boomers (57%), who have generally already set their brand affinity and buying patterns …

I’ve debunked the myth of ‘boomers don’t change brands’ so many times I’ve lost count. A quote from a review of my 2005 book by Dr. Joyce M. Wolburg published in The Journal of Consumer Marketing:

A second favorite excuse of agencies is: "Baby Boomers don't change brands" (p. 52, italics in original). Nyren dismantles this excuse nicely with examples of brand switching, and he further acknowledges that in cases where loyalty to a brand does exist, marketers who do not target Boomers give them no reason to change.

Read the full review. (PDF)

What’s not mentioned, not even considered, is that 95% of advertising is targeted to Millennials.  Of course they would be influenced. And when advertising is directed at a mature demographic, advertisers screw it up so much that we’re offended. (I think I’ve said this a thousand times in my book, blog, speaking engagements, consulting assignments, on street corners drooling and unbathed as I accost unsuspecting passersby.)

Download the first few chapters of the book: Advertising to Baby Boomers PDF

Overall, consumers view traditional advertising mediums — TV, print, and radio — as the most trustworthy, while they view online and social media advertising more skeptically …

What a shock. I’m also guessing that most consumers trust established stores more than some guy in a dark alley with an open suitcase full of watches and whatnot.

A post from a few weeks ago:

Smartphone Ads = Silly Graphical Doodads
Image result for ouija board… The mobile/social media soothsayers will have you believe that there is this unknown, magical mode of persuasion that has never been thought of before – and will reveal itself any day now.

And lots more, too many more posts:

Social Media - WOMM - Web Advertising

From May 2010:

… 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.

02 December 2017

Joseph Coughlin: The Longevity Economy

image"Old age (as a concept) is made up. Most of it was invented by human beings for short-term, human purposes over the past century and a half. Today, we’re stuck with a notion of oldness that is so utterly at odds with reality that it has become dangerous. It constrains what we can do as we age, which is deeply troubling, considering that the future of our older world will naturally hinge on the actions of the older people in it."
Dr. Joseph Coughlin

I met Joe Coughlin in 2006. We were presenting at a private conference for a pharma outfit, still wet behind our hairy ears.

I had attended and/or spoke at various marketing and boomer conferences - and thought I’d heard it all. But Joe’s presentation was like no other. We chatted on and off through the day and shared a cab to the airport.

Since then, Dr. Coughlin and MIT AgeLab have become potent forces researching, investigating, educating, and promoting all things elder.

http://agelab.mit.edu/sites/default/files/Logo_for_site.pngThe focus of AgeLab has evolved. In the beginning it was gizmos, mostly. Now it encompasses just about every facet of age-related life:

AgeLab Research Themes & Projects

Dr. Coughlin’s new book is likewise like no other.

The Longevity Economy
… Coughlin provides deep insight into a population for whom the defiance of expectations is the new normal, and who are building a striking, unheralded vision of longer life that very few in business see coming. His focus on women -- who are leading the charge away from traditional ideas of retirement toward tomorrow's narrative -- is especially illuminating …

Google The Longevity Economy and/or Joseph Coughlin for press and reviews, along with videos of his appearances over the last decade.

My take:

Dr. Coughlin covers a handful of subjects I’ve written and talked about for years: advertising/marketing and the horrors of not understanding this demographic, the importance of entrepreneurs, the power of women as decision-makers, etc.

What I love about the book: Joe’s fascination with history. No matter what the subject, he delves into all the antecedents.

My presentations usually include a history of advertising. I talk about diversity and creativity through the years. So, I’m a sucker for history.

For me, the paragraph summing up the book is on (appropriately enough) page sixty-five:

Office Lens

A few selections from my book and blog:

Advertising to Baby Boomers, ©2005,2007
CVRComp… I'm fifty-four, and (according to the advertising and marketing industry) I haven't brushed my teeth, bought laundry soap, purchased a shirt, or taken a shower in almost twenty years. And as far as big ticket items - well, those rabbit ears work just fine on my 13-inch black & white T.V. They just need a nudge and a jiggle every now and then, that's all. And if a new needle is needed for my phonograph, I just get in my '73 Pinto and head over to the Goodwill and, when no one's looking, twist one off of a dusty old turntable and put it in my pocket ...

09 April 2009
Why couldn’t it have been…?
dependpackages… I guess what upsets me about this campaign is not the campaign itself.  I like it.  I see people around my age – they’re entertaining, loose, funny. I’m wondering what the payoff will be. What a letdown. 
Why couldn’t it have been a car?  Laundry soap?  A computer?  A razor?  Anything but some age-related malady …

image16 September 2009
Boomer Backlash II
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.

I’ve been scribbling and bellowing about advertising and baby boomers since 2003. After the first few years it dawned on me that I was part of a bigger picture. Admitted blustery profundity: We’re changing society and the effects will be felt for generations. Millennials will be old someday and they’ll be old longer than we’ll be old. We’re paving the way.

There are lots of folks who’ve educated us and continue to educate us. Names off the top of my head: Robert N. Butler, David Wolfe, Ken Dychtwald, John Migliaccio, Kurt Medina, Matt Thornhill, Brent Green, Marti Barletta, Mary Furlong, Myrna Blyth, Carol Orsborn, Rick Moody, Mark Miller, Paul Kleyman, Scott Rains, Kevin Lavery, Dick Stroud, Reg Starkey, Laurie Orlov, Richard Adler, Todd Harff, Bill Thomas, Louis Tenenbaum, Arjan in’t Veld, Martijn de Haas, David Cravit, Moses Znaimer, Maxime de Jenlis, Florian Kohlbacher, Christopher Simpson, Gail Sheehy, Marc Middleton, Ronni Bennett, Jim Gilmartin, Gill Walker, Dave McCaughan, Kim Walker, Tony Mariani, Barry Robertson, Frédéric Serriere, Bob Hoffman, have I left any out? No doubt.

jcoughlinJoe Coughlin is the Point Man/Person at the moment. Read the book.

Posts about MIT AgeLab and Joseph Coughlin:

22 April 2008
Bookmarked Brains: MIT AgeLab

19 May 2009
Fast Company Names Joseph Coughlin to Top 100 List

12 April 2010
Designing for Older Consumers

04 August 2010
Universal Design As A Beginning, Not An End

imageJust for fun:

The Dotty Thing
by Chuck Nyren
On the way to the store to do Thanksgiving dinner shopping. She’s thumbing through the newspaper inserts and reviewing her list …

28 November 2017

Smartphone Ads = Silly Graphical Doodads

NostraChuckus is having a good year.

imageThe famed Soothsayer and advertising gadfly has been startling the world for nigh on a decade with his mundane prognostications. Over the last eleven months, he’s been featured in nearly every other post.

Add this one to the list.

How Often Do Consumers Intentionally Click Mobile Ads?
by Rimma Kats Nov 28, 2017
image… A new survey found that most consumers say they rarely or never mean to click on ads served up on their phones …

… Baby boomers were the least likely to engage with mobile ads. Nearly a quarter said they never did, while another 49% said they rarely did so. Just 4% said they clicked on a mobile ad at least somewhat often.

From May 2010:

image… The more people use smartphones, the less they’ll tolerate silly graphical doodads mucking up their small  screens ... Advertising on smartphones will be considered an annoyance, invasive, and rather dinky …

25 September 2012
Twitter & Advertising
… The mobile/social media soothsayers will have you believe that there is this unknown, magical mode of persuasion that has never been thought of before – and will reveal itself any day now.

If you believe that, I have a Blackberry in Brooklyn I want to sell you …

28 August 2013
Tablets & The Magic of Muggles
… Banner ads have been a washout, social media marketing is a cesspool, advertising on smartphones is not only teensy-weensy but competes with activity (talking/texting, apps, simple search).

04 November 2013
Smartphones & Tablets, Apples & Oranges
… Advertising on smartphones? Only if you think something half the size of a matchbook cover will catch and hold anybody’s attention …

image22 September 2015
Marketing Miscellanea
… Baby boomers also had a highly negative response to mobile ads ... Fewer than 8% said they were likely to purchase a product advertised on their mobile phone … Overall, just 5.2% were interested in receiving ads on their phone at all …

imageThere are more. But NostraChuckusCrystal Ball of Common Sense is getting hazy now.

20 November 2017

Just For Fun: Brain Games or Mind Games?

I have a song & dance act on Huffington Post.  It has nothing to do with advertising.

A recent ditty and jig is inspired by some recent news stories:

imageBrain Games or Mind Games?
On the internet (where I believe everything I read except if I write it) I’m finding news stories about a new Brain Game study. They’re not fake news, more like flake news…

It’s a subject I’ve written about ad nauseam on this blog:

01 May 2017
Brain Games or Mind Games?
You certainly get the ‘hard-sell’ impression that if you don’t buy and play these games, eventually your brain will leak out of your nose and ears…

Take a look.  Perhaps you’ll find it amusing.

13 November 2017

The November Flurries

Wind is blowing very which way in The Great Northwest, leaves and branches swishing and diving. 

It seems that way on my computer screen, too. A messy swirl of stories:

Dick StroudDick Stroud’s blog is a good one to steal from. There’s always something there worth filching. One  post mentions a Nielsen Norman Group newsletter:

Horizontal Attention Leans Left
by Therese Fessenden
… Web users spend 80% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 20% viewing the right half…

I’m moving
on this blog

A company I know nothing about, Skyword, and another newsletter:

Have We Forgotten Baby Boomers in Our Race to Lure Millennials?
by Lauren McMenemy
… 79 Percent of Baby Boomers Feel Patronized by Advertisers. Maybe because it seems we are really, really bad at it.

Could be:

Human Resources/Brain Power
"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?" - Rosser Reeves

CVRCompOr you could download the first few chapters of my book © 2005/2007:

Preface - Intro - Chapter One (PDF)

I don’t know what this is, but it looks like something you’d buy a grandchild:


One more flurry:

Good interview with Mark Beasley: Chairman of the MMA
image… In 2013, he co-founded the MMA, a UK-based organisation that aims to address the age myopia of the marketing world. The MMA runs the Mature Marketing Summit, Europe’s leading event for all interested in the subject of marketing and older consumers, now in its fourth year.

08 November 2017

If You build a website, they will come.

I have a client. An entrepreneur. He has a good idea for a service, has a solid business plan. He’s already successful in the Real Estate industry and his business proposition is Real Estate related.

Disclaimer: Rarely do I blog about clients, large or small. I find that writing/talking publicly about any consult or campaign fractures an unwritten confidentiality pledge. Most advertising bloggers follow this rule. So, no names and not much of anything.

We’ve put together good copy, a good website, good graphics, even a handful of down-to-earth short videos. He has a very engaging personality and explains his business quite well. I’m happy with the work we’ve done so far. It’s been easy (don’t tell him that) because he’s a breeze to work with.

The problem is that my client is obsessed with Facebook. He also suffers a bit from a decades-old malady, “If You build a website, they will come.”

Facebook. I’ve blogged about social media advertising for over ten years, have little faith in it. Sure, if you’re putting up a local pizza joint page then Facebook’s great. But marketing this service you’ll have to do a bit of blanketing. It’s not local. It’s super-niche,but has to reach as many eyeballs as possible. Only a small (very small) percentage will be interested.  That percentage will be enough to (likely) ensure success.

I’ve convinced him that Google AdWords might be a smart move. His service is something people would search for, there are only one or two competitive services – so his company would be in the top three unpaid searches. On one screen, he’ll end up with two ‘ads’ instead of one.

But I’d still like to see something in (silly retronym ahead) traditional media. This would give the company much-needed gravitas.

And the right eyeballs.

More info on social media non-advertising:

image03 October 2016
Digital Ad Shenanigans

The advertising industry has been living a lie Mike Shields

10 October 2017
The Pitfalls Of Social Media Advertising

Attack of the Zombie Websites
Posted on October 17, 2017

Craig Silverman Craig Silverman

01 February 2017
Black Ops Advertising by Mara Einstein

Social Media - WOMM - Web Advertising
A collection of posts through the years.

07 November 2017

The Tech Tango, Urban Legends, The Longevity Economy

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1609225826/Laurie_Orlov_High_Res_Photo_400x400.jpgLaurie Orlov is the go-to person for all things AgingTech. Bookmark her.

For boomers, there is no such thing as keeping up with tech change
Sun, 10/22/2017 by Laurie Orlov
… Tech change is occurring faster than boomers at 64 or 84 will want to use …

Sounds familiar.  From Advertising to Baby Boomers ©2005/2007:

image“The computer/internet ethos for most Baby Boomers is that they pick and choose what technology they want to use, buy, or install. Some are all over Skype, video and music uploading and downloading, research, education, travel planning, shopping—while eschewing blogging, communities, and web page design. Or it’s the other way around. Or variations thereof. When it comes to new technology, most Baby Boomers learn only about what interests them, what they believe will be useful. They don’t feel the need to know everything there is to know about technology, computers, and the web.”

Another recent post from Ms. Orlov:

Five technology offerings for older adults from Connected Health Boston 2017
…. An odd mix of technology service providers, health tech vendors (multiple categories), and startups …

Dick Stroud tweeted:


Yours Truly likewise wonders.

I featured Rick Moody in an August post:

Harry (Rick) Moody, former Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs for AARP, tackles disillusionment in an engrossing piece for The American Society on Aging.

Here’s a fun list of age-related Urban Legends put together by Rick. Patrick Roden’s Aging in Place blog:

Urban Legends on ainginplace.com

Joseph Coughlin of MIT AgeLab has written a new book. He just received a box full of’em:

The Longevity Economy
Joseph CoughlinOver the past two decades, Joseph F. Coughlin has been busting myths about aging with groundbreaking multidisciplinary research into what older people actually want—not what conventional wisdom suggests they need. In The Longevity Economy, Dr. Coughlin provides the framing and insight business leaders need to serve the growing older market…

30 October 2017

They Laughed When I Sat Down To Write Long Copy…

Tweet/retweet from Kevin Lavery:


The Sell! Sell! Blog
by Richard Shotton
… It reminded me of one of my favourite quotes, from Howard Gossage: "People read what interests them, sometimes it's an ad".

It’s what I’ve been saying for years (but not quite as long as Howard Gossage, John Caples, David Ogilvy, I’ll stop here or this post will end up being long long copy).

From Advertising to Baby Boomers © 2005:

CVRComp“Baby Boomers do love to read, often chewing on every single word in a brochure or print ad. They want to know everything about a product.”

”The  real  reason  is that our attention spans are longer. We want to know  more. We need to know more for a product or service to be imprinted.”

Ninety years ago…

"They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano - But When I Started to Play!"

Image result for "They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano - But When I Started to Play!"

25 October 2017

The Press Release Parade: Halloween Personality Profiling

Has it been this long? 

28 July 2011
The Press Release Parade
imageI’m on the list.

That doesn’t make me special by any standards. Press Releases are like virtual confetti nowadays.

Nowadays still applies. Astoundingly stupid stuff is still sent to me.

For entertainment purposes only, every so often I’m going to feature the silliest ones.  They’re so silly I don’t even have to comment. Here’s the first in a series (with pics inserted by me):

HCCan the Apps on Your Phone Predict What Your Halloween Costume Says About You?
Hi Chuck--
I'm writing to suggest a Halloween story idea for Advertising to Baby Boomers on new survey tech that can predict what your costume says about your personality.

HC4Consider this:
There are 11 personality types (or personas)—and each one maps to a different Halloween costume.

That's according to a new study by *******,  the world’s foremost mobile survey company—which used persona targeting to explore the relationship between Halloween costumes and personality. Its tech looks at the apps survey respondents have on their phones—and identifies their persona based on that information.

HC2So, what does your Halloween costume say about your personality?

***** surveyed 1,000 Americans about their Halloween costumes and used its persona capability to match them to personality type. Note that each respondent can have more than one persona.

Image result for vintage superhero costumeCOSTUME 1: SUPERHERO
53% of respondents planning to dress as a superhero are the "musicfan" persona type (i.e. they listen to music and follow music news). "Gamers" (19%) are least likely to dress as a superhero.
45% of people whose Halloween costumes are inspired by pop culture are the "value shopper" persona type (i.e. like to organize shopping lists and search for discounts). "Entertainment enthusiasts" (43%) are also likely to dress as pop culture icons.
(Note: That’s a Beatle.)
There's a 43% chance people who don this costume are the "sportsfan." The "traveler" persona (39%) is also likely to dress as a politician.
38% of people dressing as an animal for Halloween are "socialites." "Sportsfans" (15%) are least likely to dress as an animal.
Survey says: 51% of Americans dressing as a historical figure are "musicfans." "Productivity boosters" (41%) are also likely to dress as a historical figure.
For more information on *****  ability to target 11 personas in market research surveys, I'm happy to schedule an interview with ******* CEO ******. He is available for interviews by phone, email, or Skype until October 31.
Publicist, PR Hacker

I’m giving him a call November 1st.

More PR shenanigans from the past:

02 November 2011
The Press Release Parade Marches On

19 July 2013
Do PR outfits vet press releases anymore?

And something about the silliness of personality profiling:

17 January 2007
Baby Boomers and The Joy of Tech: Part Two
… There are better ways of slicing and dicing cohorts from raw data than with dubious personality profiling. Such segmentation ends up being an admixture of astrology, psychobabble, and voodoo…

* The kid with the tail is yours truly.

17 October 2017

NostraChuckus Scoops The New York Times.

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

Almost every eve, The Great Seer stares into his Crystal Ball of Common Sense and sees himself – but in other guises. These strange visages look nothing like him – yet they do. It’s as if his magikal orb doubles as a phantasmagoric funhouse mirror.

Today, he stares into the undulating image of The New York Times

Baby Boomers to Advertisers: Don’t Forget About Us
By Janet Morrissey
“Marketers have gotten so hot for the millennial generation that they have essentially ignored boomers” … “We’re here in the millions, and we have more disposable income, time and want to spend money. Yet they don’t give us the consideration that they should.”

Sounds eerily familiar. Download the first few chapters of Advertising to Baby Boomers (2005/2007).

“I’m here today to fix something that drives me completely crazy,” before criticizing his wireless competitors for deeming boomers as “too old,” “stuck in the past” and not interested in technology or the internet.

NostraChuckus, from the 2005 book:

image“It will be the Baby Boomers who will be the first to pick and choose, to ignore or be seduced by leading-edge technology marketing. There’s a simple reason for this. We have the money to buy this stuff. Experts say we’ll continue to have the money for at least the next twenty years. Write us off at your own peril.”



14 November 2005
My Favorite Cyber-Myth
How I snicker and roll my eyes whenever I read about Baby Boomers fumbling around on computers, scratching their heads, totally flummoxed.

More from The New York Times:

He mocked some of his rivals’ senior phone plans for focusing on “big buttons”…

08 December 2007
[childphone.jpg]The Jitterbug Phone
… Those numbers and buttons are big - like a toy phone … Boomers are tech-savvy, demand choices.

Right now, it’s mainly companies that make senior-related products, like life insurance, medical devices and reverse mortgages, that regularly target boomers.

16 September 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.

“They want to market to the cool segment, the modern segment, the ‘in’ segment,” Mr. Light said of marketers, many of whom are millennials themselves.

The 2005 book again.  The introductory chapter, The Geritol Syndrome, is all about this.

19 August 2015
Folks Are Still Reading My 2005 Book
… It’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.”

Automobiles is another category where boomers may feel underserved…

Too many posts about this.  Three:

12 March 2009
Who’s gonna buy this car?
In 2005 on The Advertising Show yours truly had a spirited discussion with hosts Brad Forsythe and Ray Schilens.  A chunky segment was about marketing autos to Boomers.

18 DECEMBER 2009
What Next From The Crystal Ball of Common Sense?

03 MAY 2012
67% Of All Sales…
… Those age 50 and older are buying more than three of every five new vehicles sold, or about 62% … For the Detroit Three, boomers now account for 67% of all sales.

nostrachuckusNostraChuckus is getting tired now. The images are becoming jumbled, hazy.

The Great Seer knows he’s not alone. Other Great Seers have been staring into their crystal balls for decades: Kevin Lavery, Dick Stroud, Mary Furlong, John Migliaccio, Kurt Medina, Todd Harff, Brent Green, Carol Orsborn, Matt Thornhill, David Wolfe – just to name a few. 

16 NOVEMBER 2015
The Déjà Vu No New News
… It’s always a treat to get up, make some coffee, open the newspaper (pixels or pulp) and read nothing new.
Even that shticky opening sentence
is nothing new.

At least it's nice to have The New York Times catch up with validate what we’ve been saying all these years.

Image result for huffpostJust for fun:

Normal and Healthy is Scary
by Chuck Nyren
Is living forever going to suck?