23 October 2012

The Future Of Consumer Doodad Technology

I’m stepping outside of my pundit-zone to babble about the future of  consumer doodad technology. 

What got me going:

It's Stupid and Insulting to Pitch 'Baby Boomers' As Tech Novices
Larry Magid, Contributor
http://images.forbes.com/media/assets/header_baked/forbes_logo_main.gif… I was rather amused and a bit insulted when I got an email today from a PR person, offering  a”great idea for baby boomer and senior first time computer buyers looking to be a little bit more tech savvy.”

What an insult. If anything, it’s younger users who are already accustomed to easy-t0-use touch screen devices like the iPad that don’t ever require you to know how to use a mouse.

Ripping into flack confetti.  I’ve done that already so let’s skip it.

Tech genius kids.  I’ve done that already so let’s skip it...or, here’s a bit of it (July, 2007):

… On NPR recently there was a report about students who were given laptops instead of textbooks. While these kids certainly knew how to download music, hang out at Facebook, and play video games – they had real problems opening up and using a word processing program. Many had no idea how to save a document. And when they did save it, they couldn’t find it again to open and work on it – or figure out how to print it.

There’s also good news.

Back to the tech gizmos.  Getting our bearings:

01 May 2010
… With the exception of the workplace, smartphones (along with iPads and Kindles or something like them) might just make desktops and laptops and the web as we know it obsolete.

06 April 2010
The Obligatory iPad Post
I’ll wait for the model that won’t shatter when you drop it and can be rolled up to swat flies.

Everybody is talking about mobile … but what’s mobile?  Is a laptop mobile?  What if you have a tablet, and after carrying it around for awhile mostly to be really cool, you now leave it at home and use it there.  Is it still mobile?

I blabbed about this a year ago:

29 November 2011
Magazines Pull Back on Tablet Bells and Whistles
… The business world is too hung up on the operating systems and branding of smartphones and tablets, that within the next five years there will be all sorts of smartphones and tablets in all shapes and sizes, all with different functions and capabilities.

At first, folks carried around their iPads as status symbols.  Now, no one cares – so they’re left at home.  Tablets will become much bigger, lighter, and will be on your coffee table.

My point: You should stop thinking about the next big thingamabob and whose will be best.  In five or ten years there will be all sorts of thingamabobs for just about everything.  You’ll have two or three or ten thingamabobs.  Tablets/Smartphones will be big, small, thin, simple, complex, active, passive, out the door in your purse or pocket, lost in your couch cushions. 

Sure, I’m as insulted as Mr. Magid is.  There will always be a need for simple technology – but not in all cases and not based on the age of the user.  Some technology I want simple, some I want complex.  I can handle either.  So can most people.  But if you want complex only or simple only, no problem.

My comment posted to the Forbes’ piece:

Good points. I’ve been screaming about this for years in a book, numerous articles, my blog, and speaking/consulting gigs around the world.

The only issue is universal design and making technology easier for Boomers when it comes to font/graphic size, color contrasts, and tactile design. An ergonomic handle on a spatula is not ‘dumbing down’.

And some people are eschewing their thingamabobs for big chunks of the day.  I even know a few kids who are sick of it all,  in tech rebellion (except for smartphones), aren’t even futzing with Facebook or diddling with video games. For some misguided reason, they’re avoiding the norms and wondering if there might be more to life. 

That sounds a bit like another generation that came of age in the 1960s.

16 October 2012

Global Diversity

I received an email the other day – actually a group email from a marketing company in another part of the world:


We have recently refreshed our website and loaded some detailed analytics reporting, especially around our downloads and referral sources.

We have added links to your sites as part of our ‘global family’. I would be grateful if you could do the same on your website.

I also refreshed my website recently and forgot to include links to global alliances. That was fixed fast. Glad someone reminded me.

Our alliances are loose, unofficial – but we all share common goals.  If you’re involved in advertising and marketing to baby boomers and older, check out the links below.  It’s fascinating to find out what professionals around the world are up to:

imageEvergreen Advertising
A communications agency specialising in advertising and marketing to Seniors and Boomers. (Australia)

imageSilver Group
Our purpose is to help business and government benefit from the unprecedented global growth of the 50+ population. (Asia)

20plus30 is a consultancy that advises companies about all aspects of marketing to the 50-plus. (UK)

http://www.owlmarketingsolutions.com/wp-content/themes/owl/images/logo.gifOwl Marketing
We offer experience and enthusiasm. Collectively, we have the wisdom of many years in the corporate and agency world. (UK)

Fifty Agency knows the language of 50+. We know the media behavior of 50+. Both online and offline. (The Netherlands)

08 October 2012

Creative Diversity

From July 2011:

The Press Release Parade
I’m on the list.

That doesn’t make me special by any standards. Press Releases are like virtual confetti nowadays.

A thousand flacked flecks later, one fell in my eye:

Hi Chuck,
At the height of Advertising Week, something has become quite clear: diversity in the advertising industry is still not a part of the conversation.  This is particularly surprising following Omnicom’s recent discrimination lawsuit, Muse Communications’ viral video titled “White Space,” and the New York Times article last month illustrating the lack of recruitment and retention programs within ad agencies. Clearly, when it comes to diversity, the advertising industry is still coming up short…

No kidding.  I’ve written, spoken, and blogged about diversity for a decade.  A few of the many posts (embedded links within  moldier ones may be barren):

11 September 2006
Managing Age Diversity in the Advertising Industry

05 November 2006
Ignore the Research and Trust Your Gut

01 May 2007
Rance Crain Makes Perfect Sense Yet Again
It makes all the sense in the world for ad makers (both clients and agencies) to be well-stocked with people who understand consumers, whether young people who fathom the mysteries of cyberspace, a good mixture of people who reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our country, and, yes, even older people who understand the vitality and buying power of the great gorge of baby boomers overtaking our land.

10 January 2008
Diversity = Productivity

31 August 2009
The Trouble with HR

06 July 2011
Diversity = Productivity Redux

13 July 2011
Non-Diversity = Solipsism
… The spots were targeting Baby Boomers.  Yet the themes revolved around Millennials, with Boomers portrayed as smiling, vapid – with no real personalities whatsoever. 

And two snippets from my book ©2005, 2007:

Each re-invention of advertising has had its blind spots. More often than not, these blind spots had to do with diversity…

It’s time for another change; time for diversity. Advertising agencies need to add Baby Boomers to the mix. They need a healthy blend of professionals of all ages.

African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Older.  Let’s mix it up with creative diversity.

25 September 2012

Twitter & Advertising

imageDick Costolo is the CEO of Twitter.  He’s a very smart, funny, down-to-earth fellow – the last two characteristics not typically associated with tech-biz heavyweights.  That’s because he really wanted to be a comic actor.  I can relate to that

Watch the complete interview with Dick Costolo on Charlie Rose.  It’s worth your time.  You’ll learn a lot.

But Mr. Costolo twitches when he talks about advertising on Twitter, bleating the same tired, convoluted, nonsensical social media silliness we’ve been hearing for years. A short clip:

Dick Costolo

It’s in its infancy.”  Meaning, nobody has a clue what the hell they’re doing.

I don’t think the model is necessarily there yet.”  Meaning, a hundred-odd years after the birth of modern advertising, twenty-odd years after the birth of the Web – nobody can figure out how to advertise effectively with social media.  So now let’s concentrate on mobile devices. Mobile advertising will work once social media marketing gurus figure out what the hell they’re doing.

Advertisers will need to adopt the way they communicate with customers.”  Meaning … I’m not sure.  Sounds like gobbledygook to me.

You have to participate in a way that is meaningful to the user.”  Meaning … it needs to be meaningful. Or participative.  Or something.  Whatever it has to be, it has to not be advertising, but still sell things.  Or it can simply give people a touchy-feely feeling about your product. That’s good enough.

The canvas is the conversation.”  Meaning….?????  Maybe they’ve got it backasswards.  It should be “The conversation is the canvas.”  Think about it.

You might not go into a campaign even knowing what you want to say in advance.”  Meaning………….……… help us, dear god.

Mr. Costolo also mentions the lack of real estate on mobile.  A few years ago I yacked about this in an online presentation.  Skip the needle to about 20 minutes in.  Or skip it altogether.  Maybe read this instead:

01 May 2010
… That silly retronym “traditional advertising” will remain the premiere force for introducing people to a product or service, along with sustaining its shelf life. Television, print, radio, and billboard ads will continue to have the visceral power they’ve always had – if only for their sheer size, simplicity, and cutting-edge audio/visual qualities.  Advertising on smartphones will be considered an annoyance, invasive, and rather dinky…

Back to the Charlie Rose clip: Dick Costolo talks about the Daytona 500 jet fuel spill.  The TV coverage included the clean-up with huge boxes of Tide® detergent.  Mr. Costolo says that the Tide social media department (or the ad agency) tweeted the incident and that it was a big Twitter advertising success. 

I’m not an internet search expert, but what I found tells a different story.  Here’s the tweet:


The stats for the tweet:


The live TV broadcast covered the spill, and Tide turned it into a commercial for television:

Tide Spot

Great PR, smart move fashioning it as a spot. Millions saw the clean-up on TV, days later millions saw the TV commercial.

Twitter and social/mobile media played a very, very minor role.  Forty-nine people retweeted the tweet.  The commercial would have been made without any twittering or any contests. 

is a fascinating phenomenon, has worldwide cultural and political influence (watch the complete Costolo interview), and will be around for quite some time.

But it is not an advertising platform. How Twitter will eventually support itself, who knows.  Maybe some sort of underwriting.

The mobile/social media soothsayers will have you believe that there is this unknown, magical mode of persuasion that has never been thought of before – and will reveal itself any day now. 

If you believe that, I have a Blackberry in Brooklyn I want to sell you. 

Two more moldy posts:

06 March 2012
Digital Distractions
Advertisers are getting wise to the drawbacks of marketing in the digital nest.

12 March 2012
Digital Distractions II
I hope this will be the last time for awhile where I won’t be distracted by digital distractions.

And a shiny, brand-new one from The Ad Contrarian:

September 24, 2012
imageSpeaking So As Not To Be Understood
Throughout history the purpose of speaking and writing has been to be make oneself understood. Not any more.

18 September 2012

Those Baffling Boomer Brains

This post could be tucked in The Déjà Vu News or No News News gatherings.  But I’ll give it it’s own page so we can poke around:

Inside the Brain of a Boomer: Cash-Rich Demo Does Poorly With Visual Complexity
by Jack Neff, Advertising Age
http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/img/nw09.gifThe neuroscientists at Nielsen Neurofocus, having strapped EEG-tracking caps on thousands of people over the years, have good and bad news for marketers about the brains of baby boomers.

Not really news:

03 March 2010
Aging Brain Less Quick, More Shrewd
… For baby-boomers, there is both good news and bad news about the cognitive health of the aging brain.

NPR interview with Dr. Gary Small:

More from the Ad Age/Nielsen piece:

As boomers age, some neural decline will be inevitable, and they’ll find it harder to handle visual or verbal complexity.

I interpret this a bit differently.  From my book, © 2005:


imageI also talk about busy websites in a very long online presentation produced in 2007.  If you have nothing better to do…

Advertising to Baby Boomers: Ads and Web Sites

A few years later a fascinating book was released dealing with many of these themes:

3 January 2010
2010: The Year of The Baby Boomer Brain
The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.

16 April 2010
The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain

Ad Age/Nielsen:

Among cognitive pluses that come with age…are more “emotional resilience” and a tendency to “not sweat the small stuff”…So they’re less likely to fall for alarming messages…

Sounds familiar.  From my book:

… A similar campaign today, using vague, anxiety-ridden scare tactics, might not work for Baby Boomers. We’re too smart (or perhaps too jaded) to be fooled by hackneyed situations and simplistic answers…

imageRemember this: An easy-to-grip handle is not dumbing down.  A ‘big picture’ is not dumbing down.  If anything, a big picture has more inherent complexity and meaning than an array of blinking doodads.

The Human Resources/Brain Power Posts