18 April 2008

Brands, Strange, Video, Worst

Angela Natividad posted this on AdRants:
We love internal propaganda. The thing is, Microserf or otherwise, nobody feels this way about Vista. NOBODY.
You are about to watch what could be the most horrific marketing/sales/motivational video ever made:

Make sure you read the blog comments.

I guess the target market is supposed to be older execs, mostly Baby Boomers, who make such decisions in major companies. Or actually the target is the sales force (inside and out) hawking Vista to Boomer execs. My guess is that this motivational video is supposed to whip these crack salespeople into a 'Baby Boomers frenzy' or something. I'll also guess that they haven't been dissuaded from showing it on their sales calls. (Not yet, at least.)

Thanks to the internet and YouTube, not much is private nowadays. Figure all in-house anything will leak - especially something as awkward and mortifying as this.

The irony, of course, it that Microsoft is famous for having hardly anybody over fifty working for them. Which explains a lot - since this 'music' video is truly tone-deaf. (Imagine me, for example, creating, greenlighting, or okaying an XBOX campaign for teenagers and twentysomethings.)

But I really cracked up when skimming Angela’s post tags: Brands, Strange, Video, Worst. I'm a huge fan of the 'younger generation' today - Millennials - and it's good to know that they see crap no matter where it's thrown. They're probably better at spotting it than we were at that those ages.

And the story gets curiouser and curiouser. Some people are suggesting that Microsoft made this 'internal' video specifically to 'leak out' as a spoof. That could be true - although I've seen some of their internal videos and I remember them as being rather lame - but not anywhere near as lame as this one.

I'm just trying to understand why they would do this. It's not a cheaply made video - a few hundred thousand dollars, minimum. So it had to have been officially sanctioned. And it's generating horrible PR. Wouldn't a PR person over there have been wise enough to figure that out?

And what's being spoofed? Vista as an unpopular, trouble-prone operating system that's created real headaches for their sales force? How many potential buyers are going to see this?

Real or spoof? As a spoof, it's bombed - creating (in today's parlance) blowback - even more bad feelings about the product and company. Microsoft loses either way.

On the record: I don’t have any real beef with Vista. I use it. It works for me.
I've disabled comments because this post has been receiving all sorts of vitriol directed at ... take a guess. None of it has anything to do with advertising, marketing, baby boomers, or the video in question.

17 April 2008

How Well Do You Know Boomers?

Here comes another one of those 'groundbreaking' studies that 'smashes myths' about marketing and advertising to Baby Boomers. Meaning - there's nothing even remotely groundbreaking or myth-smashing about it. Simply an assortment of hand-me-downs wrapped in a shiny new package.

And the juicy irony in a few of the findings had me laughing.

"Boomers are redefining age and changing the way business is done," said Howard Byck, VP Corporate Development for AARP Services. "Contrary to many common assumptions, Boomers are making retirement obsolete, are very savvy about advertising, and are experimenting with new products."
I'll go through a bunch of these ten myths and … well, smash the myth that any of them are 'new' …

Myth #4 - Boomers are winding down with age
Myth #10 - Boomers are retiring early

When studying Baby Boomers, have any subjects been written about more than these over the last five or more years? Here's a quote from the original edition of my book, published in March, 2005:
Contrary to popular myth, Baby Boomers do not believe that they are still teenagers or young adults. (Some probably do, but they need therapy.) Boomers are slyly redefining what it means to be the ages they are. Included in this new definition are some youthful attitudes - but the real change is that instead of winding down, many are winding up. We're not 'looking forward to retirement,' we're looking forward to new lives, new challenges. Only a small percentage will opt for pure retirement. (I predict that in twenty years the word 'retirement' will still be in dictionaries, but followed by the modifier archaic.)
Myth #3 - Boomers are technologically challenged

I've gone on and on about this one. Here's the pull-quote from the cover of the original hardcover edition of my book (click the thumbnail to also see it):

And take a peek at these posts:

My Favorite Cyber-Myth (November 2005)

Baby Boomers Burst Online (January 2006)

Baby Boomers and Firefox (September 2006)

Baby Boomers and The Joy of Tech (January 2007)

Myth #2 - Boomers are the "Me Generation"

Again - much, much about this in my book and in this blog - but to break the monotony let me also point you to a piece in USA Today from 2006:

Me vs. We

'Me Generation' becomes 'We Generation' (USA Today)

Myth #1 - Boomers are all the same

How do I comment on this one? It's such old news that if I pointed you to what's been written on this subject the yellowed ether would crumble on your screen. Read my book, this blog, all articles and books and research by Dick Stroud, Matt Thornhill, Brent Green - and three or four others over the last six years. Maybe Focalyst is also coming out of a five-year coma.

#5 - Boomers are all wealthy

I talk about this at length in my book - and about how marketers are missing out, going only for 'the gold' when they should be focusing more on core Boomers who aren't rich but have done OK and will continue working.

Myth #9 - Boomers are downsizing their homes

I have a whole chapter in my book about this, aging in place, and adult communities. Nothing new.Here's an article I wrote in 2003. It was part of a series about adult communities and aging in place.

And saving the best two for last:

Myth #7 - You can capture Boomers with mainstream advertising

Only the theme of my book, my blog, my consulting, my presentations, my marketing articles for the last five years. What more can I say? Actually, Focalyst is wrong. You can capture Boomers with mainstream advertising - but most ad agencies have no idea how to do it.

Myth #6 - Boomers are brand loyal and will not switch

Golly gee, willikers. If you don't know this by now ...

Here's a quote from a review of my book (the 2005 edition) by Dr. Joyce M. Wolburg of Marquette University, 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)

Why did I save these two for last? And why do I find them ironic and funny? Because Focalyst said these same two things in a report from 2006:

I'd think they'd want to take credit (although I beat them by a year and a half) for coming to these conclusions years ago. What myths are they smashing? Not their own, obviously.

Did they forget? Did the company's hard drives crash, all their 2006 data and research lost? Do they have collective Alzheimer's?

There's an old tongue-in-cheek saying in publishing that goes something like, "When myth and facts collide, publish the myth." Certainly in the cases of Myths 6 & 7, I think Focalyst and AARP's reputations would've been better served had they published the facts. It would've put them on the crest of the curve - not behind it.

11 April 2008

A House Not for Mere Mortals

I’m a huge fan of avant-garde art. I make fun of it sometimes, but that’s because I get a big kick out of it all.

And it’s probably why I actually did ‘get it’ when I read this piece in The New York Times:
A House Not for Mere Mortals
The house is off-limits to children, and adults are asked to sign a waiver when they enter. The main concern is the concrete floor, which rises and falls like the surface of a vast, bumpy chocolate chip cookie … Then Ms. Gins, 66, began holding forth about the health benefits of the house, officially called Bioscleave House (Lifespan Extending Villa). Its architecture makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, and that, she said, will stimulate their immune systems.
Remember: It’s only Art. I hope, at least.

But the point is well taken. There is a possibility of Universal Designed homes becoming places where you turn to mush. This is the current juicing the popularity of Brain Games – along with exercise routines that value balance and elasticity more than strength and endurance. We’d better deal with these things.

However, I’m not sure I really want to deal with “walls painted, somewhat disorientingly, in about 40 colors; multiple levels meant to induce the sensation of being in two spaces at once; windows at varying heights; oddly angled light switches and outlets”. It sounds a bit like a cross between a Fun House and The Winchester House.

Sure, we should always be stimulated in varying degrees. But … I’m still sticking with UD meaning Universal Design – not Undulating Danger.

08 April 2008

The First Annual Baby Boomer Girlfriends Spring Break

Beverly Mahone - author, journalist, talk show host, media and Baby Boomer pundit - has something going on that has an exciting, fun, unique feel about it:
The First Annual Baby Boomer Girlfriends Spring Break
In 2007, many of you contacted me suggesting we have some kind of event to connect baby boomer women all over the country in order to network, make business contacts and to celebrate who we are. Well I listened and now we are going to do just what you've asked.
Listen to Beverly talk about it on Growing Bolder Radio.

This is the type of grassroots event that should be on all marketers' radar. It might look small and insignificant to a P&G, a Unilever, a General Motors - but the 'realness' of it will reflect on your brand more than a booth at a standard convention or event.

And the future of this Spring Break? Read on ...

I don't want to get into the whole story - but when I was on a speaking tour in Europe recently, my gig in The Netherlands was at this unbelievable event. Ninety-eight thousand visitors, five hundred and eighty-seven top-of-the-line booths. Ten or fifteen years ago when it began, the booths were folding tables and chairs, the vendors hawking trinkets and vacation packages.

Also in The Netherlands there is an impressive annual event on a smaller scale. One of the producers is Martijn de Haas - profiled recently on The Mature Market site.

Beverly left a comment on another post:

"Do you think you could put on a dress and come speak to the fabulous women at our Baby Boomer Girlfriend's Spring Break in Daytona Beach?"
Maybe next year, Beverly. But … where do I shop for this dress? It'll be tough finding something in my size - and is stylish. I might have to make a short detour here on the way to Florida.

Or ... I could wait until I get there. For the 2nd Annual, you just might have hundreds of booths, with dozens dedicated to fashion.

More about it all.

04 April 2008

IMMN Webinar, April 15: Boomers From The Inside Out

The International Mature Marketing Network (IMMN) is sponsoring a webinar April 15th, 11am EST.

Presenters will be Dr. John Migliaccio (Director of Research for The MetLife Mature Market Institute) and Yours Truly.

I'll jump into the ethereal spotlight first and rattle on about the brouhaha surrounding word-of-mouth marketing. Then John will reveal a new MetLife study conducted by The Institute for The Future: Boomers From the Inside Out.

John and Chuck have been on the same bill more than once. In fact, twice. And that doesn't include the time we were talking heads on The History Channel series Our Generation. Some have called us the Martin & Lewis of Boomer Bloviating.

Here's more about the webinar.

And a chunk of email I received yesterday:
You guys are a hot ticket! We just sent out the second eBlast and already have 42 people signed up. Since people don't have much of a sense of urgency until the week before a webinar, you can expect many more additional attendees.

Way to go!
Just shows you my pull in the marketing/business world. No doubt John and MetLife are grateful to me for dragging them along on my coattails.