10 October 2005

AARP & Home Depot Offer Free Workshops for Boomers

AARP and Home Depot have put together a few free home-improvement workshops for Baby Boomers. (They're scheduled for October 11th, so I don't know how long the info will be on the page.)

It's a good idea, and good marketing. HGTV is a big hit with 50+ folks (although you'd never know it if you watched.)

Even I've been doing some home-improving. Although banished from a recent 'insta-floor' laying, a paint roller was slapped into my hands for some ceiling and wall work. After the project was finished, I really didn't feel any sort of 'sense of accomplishment' - but what I did get out of it was a great Jackson Pollocky shirt I wear whenever I go to a hardware store or art museum. It commands respect.

The web page for AARP/Home Depot is a bit insipid - at least the flash presentation is. Three rotating pictures: one of a couple holding paint brushes (good - but their shirts don't look anything like mine), one of a couple goofing around with a garden hose, and one of a lady changing a light bulb - her husband cheerfully holding the ladder.

If there were five or six rotating pics, the garden hose one would be fine. But since it's one of only three, it doesn't work. And the light bulb one, of course, reminds me of that old joke, "How many Baby Boomers does it take…?"

I guess Home Depot and AARP think Baby Boomers need to take a course on how to change a light bulb. Or maybe the course is about how to hold a ladder.

I bet their ad agency could've come up with more realistic (and less demeaning) scenarios.

06 October 2005

Baby Boomers Don't Have Important Sex

Jennifer Hunter of the Chicago Sun Times cracked me up today. Apparently, Baby Boomers don't have sex anymore — and if they do, nobody really cares:
Does the CDC think that once it sags it flags? That no one over 44 can rise to the occasion? That sex is not a daily (or weekly) part of our lives? That was what my kids used to think, that my husband and I only had sex twice and it resulted in child one and child two. It was too icky to think of "old" people flapping about shamelessly in the sheets.
I guess the CDC and children aren't much different than most advertising agencies. The idea of considering us (except for the obvious age-related products and services) is too 'icky' to think about.

Well, I won't upset any kids or account execs with graphic details — but the CDC, you might want to know about this: Older Daters Looking For Mates Online (Associated Press)

03 October 2005

Invoking "The Sixties": Fidelity Financial vs. Ameriprise

Two major financial planning companies, Fidelity Investments and Ameriprise, are all agog over Baby Boomers.

Colleague Brent Green dissects Fidelity's recent spot, and overall I agree with him (it's good).

By comparison, Ameriprise's campaign slinks around and takes the low road — invoking 'The Sixties' for no reason other than to unctuously 'brand' their service.

The two spots I've seen open up with a montage (make that a sloppy collage) of standard-issue 'Love-In' stock footage and clips of home movies. There may be some recently shot computer-played-with video mixed into the mess. At some point, a bunch of kids pop out of a VW Bus — and magically morph into fiftysomethings.

Or something. Quite honestly, the spots made me so queasy that I rolled my eyes and turned away.

The through-line for both is something like "Back then you probably weren't thinking much about your financial security."

…… No, we weren't.

This is about as insulting as it gets. Invoking 'The Sixties' for a financial service is plainly absurd. Among other things, it perpetuates the false myth that Baby Boomers want to be teenagers again (or have never wanted to be anything else). And it demeans all that The Sixties represents.

As Brent Green points out, the Fidelity spot takes us through the whole life of an individual. I know it's hard to believe, but we were also alive in the late 70s, 80s, 90s - and will be contributing and helping to shape the next three or four decades.

Ameriprise seems to have no idea what 'The Sixties' meant to any of us - and they proceed to trash it. For some it was purely political. For others, simply fun. For still others, it was a philosophical and/or spiritual awakening. Others found their artistic and creative centers.

But there were millions who found the whole decade horrifying. They shied away from it, had more conservative (or at least quieter) values.

And, I'm guessing, most found it to be a combination of all the above - along with a slew of other qualities too numerous to mention. To somehow reduce it all to climbing out of a time-machine Volkswagen Bus and smiling idiotically…

What if you were targeting the WWII generation for financial services? How would this spot play?: "You survived the Great Depression, danced the jitterbug, fought in trenches and on battleships while watching your buddies being blown up and killed, worked 12-hour shifts as Rosie the Riveter. Back then you probably weren't thinking much about your financial security."

No, they weren't.

How about targeting African-American Baby Boomers? "You were hosed and beaten by police, marched with Martin Luther King, flirted with the philosophies of Malcolm X, danced funky to James Brown and proclaimed yourselves Black and Proud. Back then you probably weren't thinking much about your financial security."

… No, I bet they weren't.

Companies have to think twice (and advertising agencies, three or four times) about gratuitously invoking The Sixties when targeting Baby Boomers. Fidelity Investments gets it right, Ameriprise doesn't.

Related Posts:

Ameriprise vs. Fidelity Financial Redux 4.07.2006

More In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 4.11.2006

UPDATE: January 3, 2006: I'm getting tired of picking on the Ameriprise campaign - but advertising/marketing and general 'this is my life' blogger Megan isn't.

Read her post, then the comment of hers after mine - about a chat with her father. It says it all:
Tonight I alerted my dad of this upcoming commercial (he was born in '53) and he sighed with exasperation.

30 September 2005

Too Unhip To Understand

I always like reading pieces about advertising and Baby Boomers by people who are not in the marketing/advertising industry. They don't pontificate (like yours truly) and simply call'em as they see'em.

Here's someone I wrote about a few months ago.

This month, Paul Briand's Too Unhip To Understand offering in his Boomer Angst!!! column is a droll, tongue-in-cheek take on commercials. He doesn't 'get' them - and certainly doesn't go out and 'get' the products advertised.

But Mr. Briand, although he pretends not to be, is a rather hip character. If you do click this link to his article, he'll start rapping. Right outa' your computer.

I thought only twenty-somethings in Nikes could do that.

27 September 2005

Stainmaster Empty Nester Spot A Good One

The son moves out of the house. The empty-nester parents go through three or four different uses for his former bedroom - goofy scenarios (and a few messy ones) - until finally putting it back the way it was - just in case he decides to visit.

The humor is gentle, silly, touching. A ham-fisted creative might have come up with derogatory, insulting personas and scenarios - like the preposterous notion of Baby Boomers wanting to become narcissistic teenagers again. These folks are loving, a bit lost (who wouldn't be) — and the fun-poking has to do with human nature, not generation-specific stereotypes.

And the spot is well-researched.

The Richards Group is the agency of record, but I don't know if they produced the spot. Stainmaster Carpet has a few of their commercials on the web - but not this one. I hope they put it up (if only so I can download it and use it in presentations).

Addendum, December 19th 2005: They put the spot on the web. Watch it.