Back in May 2007 I was a guest on NPR’s Soundcheck, hosted by John Schaefer. The subject: AARP's new, much-touted and promoted Music Website. Also on the show was Emilio Pardo, AARP’s Chief Brand Officer.
To listen to the show click the tiny arrow on the left:
I wasn’t impressed with the AARP's offering – and blogged about it here:
Music for Grownups?
As is usually the case, AARP’s grab for Baby Boomers is an admixture of good intentions, some top-notch stuff – and cheesy, insulting schlock.
I’d link to it so you could form your own opinion, but …
It’s gone. The link in this press release now redirects your browser to their main entertainment page.
AARP's music site was a big dud. And for better or for worse, the company that powered the centerpiece of the microsite (AARP Jukebox) may be on its last legs.
Some of the other features are still up – but they’re not linked to anything on the AARP site as far as I can tell. Merely ethereal residue awaiting a virtual dusting.
The only feature I really liked has survived: Richard Gehr’s Music For Grownups columns.
I’ve blogged extensively about AARP, their advertising, and how they present themselves. The most recent post:
AARP's Chicken Coop Coup?
I hope they develop this ad into a high-profile campaign with more stories and history. If they do, a huge chunk of Baby Boomers might decide to join for reasons other than simply that 15% Discount Card.
Now AARP has a new president: Jennie Chin Hansen. I can only comment from an advertising/marketing/public relations perspective. Ms. Hansen is a great choice for AARP. Her background reflects what the heart and soul of AARP once was, and should be again:
Ms. Hansen teaches nursing at San Francisco State University. She holds an appointment as Senior Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco's Center for the Health Professions and consults with various foundations. She transitioned to teaching in 2005 after nearly 25 years as executive director of On Lok, Inc., a nonprofit family of organizations providing integrated and comprehensive primary and long-term care community based services in San Francisco.
Like I said about the Chicken Coop ad:
Call me callous, superficial, jaded, deeply character-flawed, whatever - but my initial reaction was: "Great Branding!"
While I think that their Divided We Fail project is rather silly and anemic, I hope Jennie Chin Hansen becomes ‘the face’ of AARP. Here’s the only video I can find of her. She’s down-to-earth and engaging. That’s very good news for AARP. Give it a minute or two - or skip ahead:
I’m hoping all their dumb commercials will fade away fast, and Jennie Chin Hansen and the Chicken Coop ad will now be the focus and inspiration for AARP's marketing, advertising, and PR.
Follow up, September 5, 2008: An article in The Washington Post about AARP. Ken Dychtwald makes some good points.
Actually, AARP isn't attracting Baby Boomers at the same rate as it did with previous 'turning fifty' generations. That's why there's all this hoopla and silliness and sacrificing of their core values. Interesting that the article has no mention of Jennie Chin Hansen.