12 December 2005

Ads target empty nests, full wallets

Here's a good piece by Bob Moos of The Dallas Morning News:
Though marketers still covet the 18-to-49 age group in this youth-obsessed culture, a growing number of companies realize that fiftysomething consumers offer a lucrative business opportunity they can't afford to overlook.
I don't agree with everything everybody says in the article (well…I agree with everything I say, of course) — but overall it's on the money.

Something I don't completely agree with:
Marketing experts say companies need to know how to tug at the heartstrings of Americans over 50, because emotional appeals work better with that generation than a recitation of facts.
Yes and no. If you do want to 'tug on the heartstrings' you'd better have people creating the campaigns who know which ones to tug at. Tug at really dumb ones, insulting ones, irrelevant ones, and.....

In today's wacky world of branding it's almost better to focus more on the product, the facts. Boomers have been pitched to their whole lives. They can see a shill coming a mile away. This has less to do with being a Baby Boomer and more to do with being older and wiser to the ways of Madison Avenue. Make sure they don't have to dig through too much vapid, brand-driven, emotionally ingratiating silliness to find out exactly what a product or service is.

Follow Bob Moos' reporting on Baby Boomers (and older).

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09 December 2005

Boomer Nostalgia

Columnist Bob Baird of The Journal News made me chuckle more than a few times with his takes on Boomer Nostalgia:
…I started asking myself, "Wasn't '12 Angry Men' dramatic enough?" Forty years after the 1957 classic with Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and all the rest, did we really need a new version with Tony Danza?….. You hear The Who's "Happy Jack" followed by "I Can See for Miles." It sounds like a commercial for "The Who's Greatest Hits," but it's Hummer and a headlight manufacturer hawking their products......if this keeps up, maybe there's a "Who's Greatest Commercial Hits" down the road...

I have mixed feelings about this. The Who, Stones - do they really need the dough? If I hear Richie Havens or Etta James crooning behind commercials, fine. They're not billionaires. Let them roll up some royalties. I'm all for it.

But Sir Paul? If he's down and out he can come over to my place any time for free grub and a shower. And I'll give him a couple of bucks to autograph my half-melted and warped "Ticket to Ride" single I have stashed somewhere (even though he didn't sing lead on it). The record wouldn't play anyhow even if I had a turntable and one of those curly, plastic round thingies - so it's not good for much else except to scribble on.

But the real questions are these: Do advertisers benefit from invoking the past willy-nilly? When those tunes come on, am I really paying attention? Or do they send me off into the ether, conjuring up all sorts of bizarre and moldy feelings, images, remembrances?

By the time I float back, the spot is over.

Donovan's been hawking something lately, I'm not sure what. I'll do my best the next time to pay attention and not "catch the wind."

07 December 2005

Margit Novack's Moving Solutions

I had a spirited chat the other day with Margit Novack, founder of Moving Solutions® and President of NASMM, The National Association of Senior Move Managers.
"Moving Solutions helps people relocate. While the context of what we do deals with 'things,' our business is about people and our expertise is about solutions. Our special commitment is working with mature adults, individuals in the midst of health crises and people of any age who have a disability. We also help working professionals accomplish smooth moves in the midst of their over-extended lives. We reduce the stress and physical demands of moving with caring, efficient and cost effective services."
I advise a leisurely stroll through the two web sites linked above. But if you really want to know more about Moving Solutions (and you do) read this piece in Time Magazine.

06 December 2005

Douglas Rushkoff's Get Back In The Box

Douglas Rushkoff has a business book coming out next week:
"...the secret of success lies inside the box; businesses that focus on their core competencies, their customers' needs and their work environment come up with better innovations in the long run than those that rely on flashy ad campaigns..."
After devouring a two-part interview on Marc Babej's Being Reasonable Blog, it's obvious that Mr. Rushkoff's views on the silliness of most branding techniques mirror my own.

But I knew that already. Required viewing for anybody in marketing, advertising, or PR is Mr. Rushkoff's Frontline documentary The Persuaders. Buy it or watch it on the web.

Link to Part II of the Douglas Rushkoff interview.

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01 December 2005

Infomercials and Baby Boomers

I think the statute of limitations has expired on this piece I penned for Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. It ran in May 2005 and was available only by subscription:

Don't Talk So Fast to Baby Boomers

Chuck Nyren -- Broadcasting & Cable

Infomercials. That ugly word conjures up half-hours of tacky, humdrum hucksterism. But it's the content that's clumsy, not the concept.

Throughout most of the last century, print was king, even during the age of radio and the early years of TV. Jingles, slogans, crisp copy, animation and clever visuals were still poor cousins of privileged print.

Beginning in the middle 1960s, dazzling cinema-like spots mixed with the succinct wit of print became the pinnacle of advertising mastery. An effective television campaign often did it all: customer awareness, imprinting, positioning, branding and messaging.

Not so today, at least for baby boomers. And it isn't simply because we're not being targeted. 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. A 30-second salvo will miss us by a mile. We will subconsciously (oftentimes consciously) dismiss it.

If television advertising was once the poor cousin to print, nowadays, infomercials are the bedraggled outcasts of both. While there are exceptions, infomercials are shoddy also-rans in the advertising world.

But there is hope. Some marketers are taking advantage of the Internet and cable TV. “On-demand” advertising is the new catch phrase.

The question is how to reach baby boomers. “You can impart a pretty cool image in 30 seconds, especially with digital effects,” says Ron Koliha, a creative director and copywriter for stereo-components manufacturer Harmon-Kardon. “But when it comes to hard goods—especially high-tech hard goods—the product is the brand. Ignore the product, and the brand just becomes a symbol. Most of us baby boomers have spent 40+ years digesting information and deciding what we want. The advertiser who is willing to tell us the story of a product has the advantage.”

The cliché “thinking outside the box” applies here, but with a twist: Think outside the television box. If you are targeting baby boomers and you severely storyboard an infomercial (especially by committee), it will end up DOA. With the longform infomercial, a genuine relationship between your product or service and target market is vital, and you have plenty of time to develop one.

There are many talented baby boomer film writers/directors, editors and cinematographers who haven't gotten their hands dirty in ages. Some are now producers. Some work in television. Some are sitting around doing nothing. Find them and hire them. And trust them.

At some point in the '60s, someone convinced somebody that one-minute commercials could be exciting, absorbing, mini-masterpieces and do their jobs. If you want to reach baby boomers, now is the time to persuade agencies and clients that this is likewise true for 5 to 30-minute infomercials.

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