07 November 2012

The Costco Connection

imageThat behemoth barn Costco does a pretty good job serving Baby Boomers. 

The catalog/magazine Costco Connection likewise does a pretty good job.  Take a look at recent covers and you’ll figure out fast what age demo is not being ignored.  Advertisers everywhere, pay attention.

A bulkier-than-normal issue arrived the other day.  The holiday issue.  As always, I drifted through it.  Celeb profiles included Neil Young and Rod Stewart.  Sure, these fellows are pushing stuff (an autobiography, a Christmas album), but two Boomer music icons in one issue?  Smart for Costco.

imageI’ll make a wild guess and assume Costco is not directly responsible for ads from other sources.  It is responsible for store brands (Kirkland) and any promotional fodder. Most of these are okay for older eyes, but not great.  The designers seem to like white typeface, sometimes on light backgrounds.  I noticed a few with white on blue – the worst combo for people over fifty. 

The layout is busy, but what else could it be with such a jam-packed issue?  Black on white for articles is ideal, although I’d bump up the font a whit or more.  I don’t like to squint.

imageRecently, Costco has implemented two marketing strategies, one good (with reservations) and one not so good (yet):

  • It’s pumping millions into its website.
  • Promos are trying to convince folks to give up their print mag and access it virtually.

Some moldy posts, still relevant:

15 April 2007
Positioning Magazines for Baby Boomers
… This (digital) nest is here to stay – but for a big part of their day Baby Boomers are happy to fly far from all the chaos and into another nest – one that is warm and nourishing. That’s where they will find, among other delectable items, your magazine.

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 – while marketing/search (coupons on steroids, and more) will flourish and dominate.

06 March 2012
Digital Distractions
Digital interruptions are headache-inducing.  Not so with magazines. Advertisements are welcomed and appreciated.  They are integral, seamless extensions of the magazine  experience.

27 April 2009
Is roiling ether the best place for advertising?
For the umpteenth time … The Most Effective Marketing/Advertising Model For Reaching Baby Boomers: What is now called traditional advertising pushing you to an age-friendly, informative product/services web site.

Costco’s investment in their online site is a good thing – but it’ll take their print mag promos and ads to get customers there.  And it always will.

imageBig mistake: Convincing people to forgo the print mag for the electronic version.  As it is, the e-version is a klutzy, unreadable mess, forcing you to zoom in and out to read anything.  Even when you do you can’t really read much.  Give it a gander.  It’s a simple PDF, clumsily widgetized.  The best way to solve this is by downloading the actual PDF so the graphics and text are truly accessible. But that’s too many steps, and still awkward, time-consuming.  People won’t bother.

And they won’t even know it’s available unless force-fed an email or text or some sort of announcement, again requiring too many steps. 

An attractive magazine arriving in the mail gets your attention.  It hangs out on the table, inviting you to do some easy, restful leafing – at least until recycle day rolls around.

Are tablets taking over?  Maybe.  Someday.

From a few weeks ago:

23 October 2012
The Future Of Consumer Doodad Technology
… 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…

I’ll wait for the model that won’t shatter when you drop it and can be rolled up to swat flies.

We have a way to go before tablets are big, thin, light, unbreakable, maybe flexible to some degree, super-easy to read – and super-easy to access your magazine.  For now, for at least five or ten years, don’t count on tablets or smartphones to do everything.  They’ll eventually do more, but may never do it all.

31 October 2012

NostraChuckus Predicts The Future Again: Crest 50+ Toothpaste

Famed Soothsayer and advertising gadfly NostraChuckus has been startling the world for years with his mundane prognostications.

Culled from a 2005 book review in The Journal of Consumer Marketing:image

One more quote from the book ©2005:

Here’s an alternative universe you might consider:

CVRComp“Hmmm. What’s this toothpaste? I think I’ve heard about it. Saw a commercial, read an ad about it. The person in the ad was around my age. She talked a bit about dental care, a bit about gums, about teeth, how to keep them healthy and strong. She had a nice smile, but not one that blinded me, sending me stumbling, feeling my way to the bathroom for the Visine. And the box doesn’t look like it’s an ornament for a science fiction Christmas tree. Maybe I’ll buy it.”

Seven years later (isn’t ‘seven’ some sort of magikal number?), a toothpaste company finally pays attention to NostraChuckus’ pesky presaging:

Crest 50+

Not the greatest spot, a bit hokey, perhaps a bit patronizing, perhaps the product is awkwardly positioned - however, all the  key selling points are there. 

Enough of NostraChuckus and his Crystal Ball of Common Sense

imageBut … if this ad campaign had been produced  years ago, Crest would now be way ahead of the game.

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.