18 December 2006

AARP/History Channel's Our Generation: Toys of a Generation

Our Generation: Toys of a Generation

Airs on Friday December 22 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM
The Boomer Generation was the first generation to be actively marketed to as children. In the 1950's, canny advertisers used television to reach young boomers and entice them with a generation's worth of seemingly irresistible toys. Today, many of these toys are classics. Our resident historian Steve Gillon hosts.
I'm a talking head on this one. Should be a fun show. An earlier post about it.

The series has been very good so far. Shows on Kent State, MLK, The Sexual Revolution, Duck & Cover (with a fascinating tour of the big 'bunker' at Greenbrier), The Mustang, The Apollo Mission. The 13-part series is about midpoint with the one I'm on.

Visit the Our Generation web site.

15 December 2006

The Brouhaha Over WOMM

Over the last week I've dropped some comments in a few blogs I regularly read: The Flack and Brand Autopsy. So I might as well blog about the brouhaha here.

The Brouhaha: Word-of-Mouth Marketing. WOMM. It's been making headlines lately, what with the Edelman/WalMart RV/Blog fiasco and a few others. And a sort of but not really non-ruling ruling by the Federal Trade Commission:
The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said that companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships.
Here's Advertising Age chiming in:
The FTC's response was to an Oct. 18, 2005, petition from Commercial Alert, which claimed that marketers were "perpetrating large-scale deception" by paying consumers to shill for products but not revealing the financial arrangements. Commercial Alert called word of mouth, or buzz marketing as it's also known, "fundamentally fraudulent and misleading." ... The FTC decision means that companies such as Procter & Gamble, Hershey Co. and countless other corporations, agencies and buzz-specialty shops will avoid the specter of a thorough probe of their marketing practices. However, the FTC did leave the door open for the commission to examine issues on a case-by-case basis.
Back in March, Jack Trout weighed in on WOMM:
"How many people really want to chatter about products? Do you really want to talk about your toothpaste or your toilet paper? ..... This all brings me to my word-of-mouth on word-of-mouth marketing. It's not the next big thing. It's just another tool in your arsenal."
I said the same thing in August, 2005.

So your product or service is getting some sort of positive response from users/consumers? Maybe a cult is forming. Or something. People are talking.

Take advantage of this. You'd be stupid not to. Bring in the PR professionals, the marketing people. Reference it in advertising campaigns. Support this grass roots excitement.

But trying to create buzz out of nothing? Paying shills to hand out lipstick and gum, paying bloggers for their so-called objective opinions? Not for long:
A 2005 survey of 800 consumers by market research firm Intelliseek found that 29 percent of participants age 20 to 34 and 41 percent of those age 35 to 49 said they would be unlikely to trust a recommendation again from a friend whom they later learned was compensated for making the suggestion.
Follow the percentage progression above, and what will logic tell you about the efficacy of WOMM for Baby Boomers over fifty? And older? (Don't ask me why they weren't included in the survey - you probably know already if you've been reading this blog with any regularity.) Follow the percentage progression again - and will the numbers go up or down as the 20-34 year olds are in their thirties and forties in five/ten years?

My prediction: When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, print ad, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.

As far as all the claptrap about WOMM replacing advertising - people who are hawking that one have a slippery grip on history. Word-of-mouth marketing is nothing new. It's been around for a hundred years, since the beginning of modern advertising, always morphing into various forms. The latest morphs: online social networking and blogs.

There is plenty of marketing and advertising to be done on the Web, and who knows what forms they will take over the next ten years. We'll all be surprised. But word-of-mouth as the primary driving force of marketing? I think not.

Remember this: Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.

12 December 2006

Selling to Seniors, Circus, The Book, and Me

I've been writing. Pundit stuff. Now it's over for awhile (I hope). Some people find it hard to believe - but I'd rather be writing more copy and less pontification pieces.

Although I do enjoy it. And it seems to be worthwhile. I receive loads of complimentary email and phone calls. And very high-paying and very (because I'm a nice guy) low-paying consulting gigs. And I get to see my name misspelled in newspapers and magazines, usually attached to garbled quotes. I feel like a politician sometimes - misquoted and taken out of context.

The Pundit Stuff:

I critiqued three print ads (Geico, Fox Hills Senior Living, Pacificare) for the Selling To Seniors Monthly Report. These are always fun to do. My contributions are slated for the January 2007 issue.

Millennium's Circus will carry a second piece of mine in their 3rd issue. Again, always fun to do. I like being published internationally, having my work translated into other languages …

Okay, that's a big lie. The translations are from homespun English to English English: words like neighborhood ending up as neighbourhood. It amuses me.

And I've sent my publisher, Paramount Books,the final draft of the 2nd Edition of Advertising to Baby Boomers. Included will be four updated chapters, four new chapters, and a slim Forward and beefy Afterward that brings everything up to date. I think they'll be issuing it in paperback (I'm fighting for that, so it'll be less expensive). Should be out in February 2007.

Like Ringo, I got blisters on my fingers.

08 December 2006

The Blogging Boomers Carnival

Lifetwo.com has an interesting project going - a handpicked selection of blogs by Baby Boomers:
A collection of leading baby boomer blogs are coming together to create a weekly blogging "carnival" to promote important and relevant information, advice, and community for baby boomers. This will be one of the first blog round-ups of its type aimed specifically at baby boomer-related issues … "One of the reasons baby boomers are under-represented in the blogging world is the shortage of blogs of interest to them -- as well as the difficulty of finding them. "We created BloggingBoomers to fix both of these problems," says Wesley Hein of LifeTwo.
I'm not sure where they're headed - but it wouldn't be a bad bookmark for anybody marketing to Baby Boomers.

01 December 2006

All That Vapid, Mindless Imagery

Dick Stroud, blogger extraordinaire and author of The 50 Plus Market, has pointed us to a company offering interesting images of Baby Boomers and older for web sites and print ads. I railed about the lack of this a few months ago in my post INVASION OF THE BABY BOOMER POD PEOPLE.

Follow the link on Dick's post to Veer. Their images will give you better ideas about how to portray Boomers. Trust me - we're more diverse, multidimensional, intelligent, involved, and interesting than we're being portrayed.

... Okay, so we're not always that interesting.