09 March 2009

My Barbie!

Barbie1 What’s more Boomer than Barbie?

She’s been through all the cultural upheavals and survived

She’s created controversy

She’s been embraced and banned by parents

She has her own syndrome

And she’s still causing trouble.

Even though Barbie was born grown up, it’s her fiftieth birthday today:

ex Happy 50th to Baby Boomer Barbie
Paul Briand
Baby Boomer Examiner 
Her age makes her a Baby Boomer and -- in a way, despite the ditsiness often applied to her and Vbarbieespecially her name -- she is somewhat representative of how Baby Boomers have reshaped, refined and redefined who they are over the years.

Appropriate: Forbes is throwing the biggest media bash for Barbie …

barb4 Barbie Turns 50
Edited By Anna Vander Broek and Michael Noer
She is an American icon, a business phenomenon and a real doll. Since her introduction on March 9, 1959, Mattel has sold more than 1 billion Barbie dolls, nearly 100 million of those last year alone.

Back in the dark ages of the WWW, before there were blogs, before there were social networking sites – I blogged on a social networking site and wrote about Baby Boomers.  Here’s a link to my 1998 ‘post’ celebrating Barbie’s fortieth birthday:

barb My Barbie!
It was (and still is) a phenomenon rivaling the one surrounding the Beatles: A doll not to be fed, cuddled or nurtured -- but a fantasy representation of you in the future!

Here’s how Madison Avenue did it in 1961:

What cultural upheavals?


A Barbie Poem by Amy Sterling Casil.
Update March 10: AdRantsAngela Natividad posts some great Barbie links – including a video history of Barbie commercials.

06 March 2009

Call for ban on use of the word 'retirement'

Again, a NostraChuckus prediction comes true:

mh Call for ban on use of the word 'retirement'
A LEADING psychologist has called for a ban on the word retirement, saying it no longer reflects the reality of growing old for the baby boomer generation …

The very word 'retirement' is from the French phrase retirer, meaning to draw back from. It no longer represents the hopes and aspirations of the baby boomer generation, according to Ms. Langcaster-James. "The third age will present something of a blank canvas for baby boomers," she said … "They do not see retirement as when they wind down and leave things behind. Instead, it is all about seizing the opportunities it presents."

A quote from my book (2005):

NyrenPB 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.)

Two previous posts about retirement:

Time to Retire the 'R' Word

This sounds familiar.

ft Dick Stroud says: “Maybe”

I wonder what a psychologist would say about my potent powers of prognostication ...

05 March 2009

Commercials are good for you.

Good for clients/advertisers? Good for ad agencies?  Or … you be the judge:

nytLiked the Show? Maybe It Was the Commercials.
By Benedict Carey
So why is it that commercial interruptions always ruin TV programs?  Maybe they don’t. In two new studies, researchers who study consumer behavior argue that interrupting an experience, whether dreary or pleasant, can make it significantly more intense.

nelson “The punch line is that commercials make TV programs more enjoyable to watch. Even bad commercials,” said Leif Nelson, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of California …

All true for most TV programs.  Scripts are structured around commercials, much like acts in a play.  The writers, directors, and editors take great pains to make sure you’re ready for a break – and ready to return after the cluster of commercials.  With dramatic pacing, they ease you in and out of the story.  If you watch a program without commercials, rhythm goes haywire, the half-dozen (non) transitions creating cognitive dissonance. 

With sports programming there are inherent transitions: innings, quarters, first downs, etc.  Just like the teams, you’re ready for a break. 

More from The New York Times piece:

In one of their papers, the authors even propose that commercial television evolved culturally to maximize enjoyment. The millions of Americans who record their favorite shows on TV may scoff; but they, too, often stop the shows to get a drink, make a call or talk. This kind of controlled interruption may represent a kind of ideal, Dr. Nelson said.

04 March 2009

Not Much New Redux

crystal_ball NostraChuckus strikes again – and again and again.

Stephen Reily of VibrantNation.com blogs about technology and Boomer women:

sr VibrantNation.com tech survey
Boomer women are early adopters of new consumer electronics
They may not know how to use all of the features on their cell phone (who does?), but a recent Vibrant Nation survey reveals that the new woman 50+ is an early adopter of first-generation consumer electronics, particularly those that vn3support her interest in music, travel and her desire to connect with family and friends.

NyrenPBSound familiar?  It would if you’d read my book, originally published four years ago in early 2005.  Two pulls:



02 March 2009

The Brain Games Game

Not the greatest press lately for Brain Games:

coolestgadgets Brain Training games no better than crosswords, experts say
Expensive electronic brain trainers … are no better than keeping the mind young and sharp than the daily crossword puzzle …

bbc 'Brain training' claims dismissed
… Results did not show that it was any better than standard computer games …

Brain games do/don't work: the debate continues
guardian The meta-analysis concluded "that there was no evidence indicating that structured cognitive intervention programs had an impact on the progression of dementia in the healthy elderly population."

$80 million per year 'brain exercise' industry a crock?
scienceblog"The brain aging products sold today can be a financial drain, decrease participation in more proven effective lifestyle interventions, like exercise, and potentially undermine cognitive health by frustrating the "worried well" if poorly designed."

My first exposure to the recent spate of brain games was at the 2004 Boomer Business Summit.  I scratched my not-too-bright head and wondered what the difference was between a brain game and any mind-bending game: Rubik's Cube, Scrabble, Sudoku, etc.  Obviously, this new crop of revolutionary IQ busters improved your brain power while all the others were, I guess, just for laughs. 

chess And that’s what bothered me about the marketing – and still does.  Are these new-fangled blinking lights on a screen the best way, the only way to keep your noggin nimble?  This seems to be the claim.  Or are they a new breed in a long line of cognitive games that go back to counting pebbles on a cave floor?

You certainly get the ‘hard-sell’ impression that if you don’t buy and play these games, eventually your brain will leak out of your nose and ears.  Why not just tell the truth?  These are high-tech, stimulating computer-generated exercises that will help keep your mind sharp - are structured, measurable to some degree (so they’re useful for medical research), and quite entertaining.  And there are a lot of them – so you won’t get bored just playing one over and over. 

They’re as good for you as crossword puzzles.