20 May 2008

Offer Ends Soon!

I stumbled upon a blog post. By a fellow I have a lot in common with and who’d probably be a friend of mine if I knew him.

Or we’d hate each other. Who knows.

Larry Jones has written about advertising, Baby Boomers – and you’d better listen because his sentiments are widespread:
Offer Ends Soon!
All my life I’ve been pummeled by advertising.
I have listened to and watched millions of 60-second spots. Over the years they have changed from live presentations by TV and radio personalities who have tried to cultivate my trust through a sort of pseudo friendship, into ever shorter and “punchier” 30’s, 20’s, 10’s and even five-second commercial messages delivered in MTV-style videos, no scene longer than two seconds, challenging my ability even to see what’s on the screen, much less understand what I think I’m seeing.
I’m not sure he needed the disclaimer. He must have friends like me he didn’t want to piss us off. At least too much. (Hey, Larry - is that a smudge on your sweatshirt or a Nike logo?)

Actually, he was just being nice. Yeah, we’re making a living - but a lot of us also enjoy it.

Even though I’d like to see campaigns that resonate with Baby Boomers – and he doesn’t really give a you-know-what – we both agree that they are, for the most part, pretty pathetic.

Larry also has a home studio and plays guitar. With a background in the audio industry, I know a bit about all this. He probably owns some equipment manufactured by a company I worked for seven or eight years ago.

And I was hired because the company knew that the largest age demographic for home audio and music equipment was take-a-guess. Since then, it’s become even a larger chunk.

Does the professional/consumer audio industry have a handle on this? Nope. It’s not a question of dumbing down technology for Baby Boomers (we invented most of this stuff) – but more a question of universal design, easy-to-handle knobs and controls, bigger fonts and correct color contrasts for audio software. Older hands and eyes are at the controls.

Enough. I have to go unwind after tossing up this post. Maybe I’ll plug in and play sloppy, cliché-ridden blues guitar. Even after decades of trying, and I still can’t play as fast as Alvin Lee.

16 May 2008

Coming Boom in Boomer-Friendly Transport

BusinessWeek has a piece about new features in cars that take into account older eyes, older bodies.

No surprise to me. I suggested this years ago – in my book and during a long segment in 2005 on The Advertising Show.
The Coming Boom in Boomer-Friendly Transport
by Jim Henry
In part to aid the aging driver, General Motors (GM) is adding high-tech features such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warnings, both available on the 2008 Cadillac STS and DTS models. "GM recognizes the importance of this sizable demographic group in the U.S. and globally," said Dave Rand, executive director, global advanced vehicles, in a written presentation.
Big Business is behind the curve, as usual. But better late than never.

My point three years ago was that Baby Boomers were buying up those mid-priced boxy cars (even though they were being marketed to college kids and twenty-somethings) because they were easy to get in and out of, easy to see out of, and some had large dashboards that were easy to read. So why not build cars with these and more features for older drivers? And market them as such?

Over six months later I read this.

But ageism is still rampant in the advertising and business world. More from the BusinessWeek article:
Etsuhiro Watanabe, an associate chief designer at the Nissan Design Center, was careful to point out that Nissan is not designing a car specifically for old people. "The improved ergonomics will benefit drivers of all age groups, young and old included," he said.
Pretty funny. Like I've said, I remember when those boxy cars were selling to an older demographic (they still are) and upsetting marketers because the predicted target wasn't being hit. “What are we doing wrong?” they asked themselves.

I certainly don’t remember any of them, upon launches, carefully pointing out that their cars were “Not specifically designed for young people” …

Dick Stroud also blogged this piece – with his usual trenchant comments.

14 May 2008

Most Inane Commercial of The Year Award

Category: Targeting Baby Boomers

Thanks to Brent Green for nominating this one.

Actually, it was cloned.

Too bad, too. Because this is a hot topic. With proper positioning and a campaign not so lame, so demeaning ...

The product will sell (it's in the right place at the right time), but imbued with an honest generational aesthetic instead of insulting, smarmy clichés, sales might have been phenomenal.

Let the cringing begin.

And I bet it'll also make a lot of people from other generations cringe. (Or thrilled that we're being portrayed as such nincompoops.)
Update May 26, 2008: As usual, NostraChuckus predicts the future.

OK .. so it was posted two days before mine. I didn't see it until today. Cut this ol' Soothsayer some slack.

Make sure you read the first dozen or so comments attached to the post.

And as you read, keep this quote in the back of your mind:
Recently I have been embarrassed to be part of this generation. The reason? Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue is never wrong. They’re the neighbor across the street that sees you in the way you don’t see yourself. They’re young, they’re cocky, and what they say about the older generation becomes the truth. People still think there was a real Mr.Whipple, so I know whatever Madison Avenue says about us is what everyone’s going to believe anyway. —Albert Brooks

12 May 2008

Diarrhea of the Word-of-Mouth

I seem to be suffering from diarrhea of the word-of-mouth lately:
A recent post: Smart or Sneaky?

Apparently, it's something I caught years ago: a Brand Autopsy thread from 2005.
And now Millward-Brown's Nigel Hollis, someone I've been blogging about way too much lately (What's The Word? and A Deep, Download-Worthy Report), posts this on his blog - and it started me slobbering again:
I'm Mulan. What advice can I offer you?
… Word of mouth was probably a much stronger influence when the people involved knew each other from the "real" world, not just from a Web page. When they knew, or at least could see, the friend, colleague or salesperson they were talking to, they did not have to guess at the veracity of the advice being offered ….
What if the ubiquitous nature of online search means that we are losing the inclination to ask other people for advice? After all, we can just look it up, right? Rather than gaining power, maybe WOM is actually losing it in the Internet era …
I approached it from another angle in my book, used different variables - but my (slightly tongue-in-cheek) assessment parallels what Mr. Hollis is suggesting:
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, radio spot, print ad, direct marketing collateral, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.
Remember this: Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.
I'm getting sick of talking about this subject. I need to chug down a few heaping tablespoons of Word-of-Mouth Imodium.

07 May 2008

Boomerfile TV

There's this fellow in Canada, Lorne Frohman. He's a television guy, writes and produces comedy, teaches graduate courses at Humber College.

And now he's podcasting via Boomerfile.tv.

I do stuff like this on another blog - although my broadcasting so far has been audio only. Actually, I've been tossing up bits and pieces of a radio show I did a handful of years ago. Click the arrow below:

The Slobberer

I chuckled at Lorne's take on social networking for Baby Boomers. Not much different than mine.

Like he wishes getback great success - I wish Lorne the same.