25 February 2013

Warby Parker

I lost my glasses.    

There is cosmic permission, for I’m sixty-two.  No worry about Alzheimer's, only my driving. 

I stopped by the optometrist's office that same day.

While cheaper than a Google Car,  I wasn’t happy with the bill.  Of course, my prescription had expired – so an eye exam.  New glasses were almost $350.  On autopilot (perhaps because I couldn’t see very well), I simply did the routine.

imageTwo-and-a-half years ago when last there, my more-significant-than-I-am other insisted on accompanying me.  I would pick out goofy-looking big plastic frames, she would make sure I got new, groovy ones: small, thin, rectangular, metal.  I checked around, checked the stars on all the TV shows, and had to admit that the grooviest of the groovy were wearing those.

imageThis time I grabbed a similar frame, a bit bigger and slightly rounded, so I would get in trouble but not too much trouble.

imageA few days later, just out of curiosity, I searched for a hip eyewear outfit I’d heard about: Warby Parker.  It was quite a shock.  Now my favorite kinds of glasses, goofy-looking big plastic ones, are the grooviest of the groovies.  I was groovy before they were, but wasn’t allowed to be.

With my new thin, metal, slightly rounded glasses, I’m hopelessly old-fashioned – until I lose them, which might be soon since I have cosmic permission: I’m sixty-two.

Warby Parker is a welcomed phenomenon.  While not in their target group, I appreciate the business model, the copywriting on the site (A modern update of an old stalwart, the Percey is a trimmer, subtler take on the glasses worn by Gregory Peck in "To Kill a Mockingbird"), the Monty Python-esque TV spot:


Apparently, WP is taking on the big guys.  And advising some big folks.  And doing good deeds.

Baby Boomers and older would eat this stuff up, along with appreciating the styles and prices.

Don’t write them off.

19 February 2013

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Funny how odd little items you come across trigger remembrances of things past.  Odder still is how often they show up as news:

More Baby Boomers Heading Back to School
The sea of faces in your average college classroom are not just students in their teens or early 20s. In fact, a growing number of them are much older.

Having a blot blog is great for helping you remember what you know already.  From November, 2005:

Baby Boomers, Adult Communities, and Education
I did a conference call consult recently with a couple of on-the-ball entrepreneurs. The product/service targets Baby Boomers and their interest in continuing education.

Retiring baby boomers see opportunities, find support as 'encore entrepreneurs'

I’ve heard something about that.  Half my book is about that, plus seven posts to skim through:

Entrepreneurs & Baby Boomers

What the boomers want on vacation
imageThe travel industry is trying to win the wallets of baby boomers who are starting to travel more — and have the money…Boomers continue to be intrepid explorers, even as many express a desire for creature comforts.

Culled from Advertising to Baby Boomers, © 2005:

From 2003 and 2010:

Baby Boomers & Travel Companies & Irony

Baby Boomers Aren't Sold On Retirement Communities
imageAs baby boomers begin to retire, they're going their own way -- or ways -- when it comes to housing choices and relocation strategies.

Sounds vaguely familiar.  From 2005/2007:

Selling Universal Design To Baby Boomers/Aging In Place

A good piece by a gent studying at The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism:

Incompetent and Incontinent?
imageInsult or ignore. How is that for a marketing strategy to the demographic that has the most disposable income and whose numbers swell by the week?

Or you could read this from 2009:

Boomer Backlash II

Or watch this:

I don't need it, but I'll try it on for charity.

Or scroll through the intro and first chapter of…

Advertising to Baby Boomers (PDF).

11 February 2013

Generations Beat Online

Finally, there is easy access to Generations Beat Online, a newsletter that for years was knotty to link to:

Generations Beat Online
GBO NewsE-News of the Journalists Network on Generations
Welcome to the new, improved, lemon-freshened GBO, marking the 20th year of the Journalists Network on Generations. Great new format, same old content…

The man behind the curtain:

Paul Kleyman, Assoc. Director, Ethnic Elders Paul is the national coordinator of the Journalists Network on Generations, a group of 1,100 journalists who cover issues in aging. For 20 years he was the editor of Aging Today, newspaper of the American Society on Aging.

I penned something for Paul and Aging Today way back in 2006 (PDF) when I was a snot-nosed kid.

Bookmark GBO, and subscribe to the newsletter.

04 February 2013

The Sounds of Capitalism

It’s the day after the 2013 Super Bowl, and this advertising gadfly isn’t going to give you an in-between turnovers play-by-play.

The Sounds of CapitalismA book I haven’t read yet – Pitchfork’s Eric Harvey interviews the author:

The Sounds of Capitalism
Author and musicologist Timothy Taylor on his new book, which analyzes the relationship between popular music and consumer culture.

If you’ve ever attended my song ‘n dance, it’s full of advertising history.  And I’ve written (along with many others) about the positive and negative impact of music in commercials:

03 October 2005
Invoking "The Sixties": Fidelity Financial vs. Ameriprise

09 December 2005
Boomer Nostalgia
… Do advertisers benefit from invoking the past willy-nilly? When those tunes come on, am I really paying attention? Or do they send me off into the ether, conjuring up all sorts of bizarre and moldy feelings, images, remembrances?

By the time I float back, the spot is over.

07 April 2006
Ameriprise vs. Fidelity Financial Redux
"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is being used to get aging hippies to invest for retirement. It's in a Fidelity commercial. Define irony. I strongly doubt that when a circle of stoned 19-year-olds were passing around a joint with Iron Butterfly on the turntable in 1969, they were weighing wealth-preservation versus growth as they considered the most prudent mix of stocks, bonds and other equity instruments …

11 April 2006
More In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is in a class by itself. Hear it and a veteran of the '60s might think water bong, not 401(k) rollovers.

19 February 2007
Food fights, Balloons and Dancing Gorillas
“Every time I swear I'll never again be shocked or saddened by a TV commercial ruining a treasured rock anthem, another proves me wrong.”

Timothy Taylor explains it all – or a big chunk of it:

Pitchfork: This felt like the first time that a lot of people, including the Beatles, got angry with a brand for co-opting the music of their youth.

http://musicweb.ucsd.edu/media/thumb.php?filename=269_Taylor.jpg&max_width=250&max_height=250TT: Yeah, the surviving Beatles sued them, but they didn’t really have any grounds on which to sue them because they didn’t own the copyright on their own music anymore-- they had sold it off to Michael Jackson’s company. But they still didn’t like it. Nike said they weren’t going to let that sway them, but they eventually stopped running ads with that music in there, I assume because of the bad press that they got.

This is interesting (to a doddering guy like me):

TT: … If you’re a struggling band (today), it’s less about record sales and it’s more about placement in commercials and film and TV.

So thirty or forty years from now, when you hear an old song from your teenage years, it’ll bring back fond memories of an iPhone commercial.

One reference to The Super Bowl:

Don’t think anything’s new.  Before The Clydesdales (actually The Clydesdales were around back then), before the web – there was interactive advertising. 

From 1903:


The music in the video is a sing-a-long.  If you don’t know what a sing-a-long is, it’s sort of like Karaoke.

Read about Timothy Taylor’s The Sounds of Capitalism and listen to oodles of music from advertisements over the last one-hundred plus years.

28 January 2013

Marketing to the Ageing Consumer

New book, a good one:

Marketing to the Ageing Consumer
The Secrets to Building an Age-Friendly Business
By Dick Stroud and Kim Walker

As the populations of Europe and the US, soon to be followed by China, grow older, it is vital that marketers understand the effects of physiological ageing and their impact on marketing.

imageDick and Kim have put together a concise, brimming-with-info overview of what people 50-70+ are and will be experiencing physically and psychologically (with a larger nod to the former) – and why this knowledge is critical to companies, organizations, governments.

imageIt’s an easy though at times startling read, backed up with clear, to the point  graphs and charts (even I could comprehend most of them). 

The message: Age-Friendly doesn’t begin and end with advertising and marketing. The initial product development, packaging, and point-of-purchase experience is likewise crucial and often ignored.

An example not in the book: Six or so years ago,  we were overwhelmed by a stunning international campaign targeting 50+ women with a line of beauty products – skin and face moisturizers, a shampoo, conditioner, etc.  Truly revolutionary advertising. The bottles flew off the shelves.

But something happened at home. The product containers were pretty much the same – a murky maroon with flaky white fonts, leading and kerning so bunched that for older eyes all was a blur. Women would reach for a specific bottle in the bath or at the vanity, and had to grab their glasses to read the label. Try that in the shower.

A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it's bad.
Bill Bernbach

But it wasn’t the product, it was the  packaging that held back this beauty line from universal, everlasting success.

Mr. Stroud and Mr. Walker address similar issues in their book.

Introduction and Chapter Selections (PDF)

Publisher’s Page

Age-Friendly Web Site

Congrats on this, Gents.