21 March 2013

AARP Is All New Redux: Part I

AARP is ‘rebranding’ itself for the umpteenth time.

There’s a thinly-veiled chapter in my book ©2005 about the organization and its B2B/B2C advertising.  I never mention AARP by name – ‘cause I’m too nice a guy:

… The advertising campaign has one ad with ashen-faced Baby Boomers in body bags ("These days, doctors don't pronounce you dead. Marketers do."). Another shows Baby Boomers acting like testosteroned teenagers ("Outta the way, punks: older racers are the hot-rod kings!"). Yet another has one of a middle-aged lady dead in a powder room (probably from overdoing it on the dance floor) with police chalk outlining her body. I don't know what the copy is because I haven't seen it. It's probably something like, "Give me wrinkle cream, or give me death!"

Let me not bore you with their varied forays, bumbling or competent.  If interested, a few posts:

19 February 2007
Food fights, Balloons and Dancing Gorillas

16 May 2007
Music for Grownups?

05 May 2008
AARP's Chicken Coop Coup?

25 August 2008
Goodbye, Jukebox. Hello, Jennie Chin Hansen.

24 July 2012
Picking On The Big Boys & Girls: AARP

International Journalist and Researcher Joop Koopman (based in NYC) attended the recent ASA Conference and penned a report for a large and influential publishing house headquartered in Europe.  He has permitted me to quote from it:

AARP is making some key adjustments. It’s not-yet-officially launched “Life Reimagined” and “Create the Good” projects…are clearly meant to update the appeal of the organization beyond an overly familiar organization (suffering from an image of dullness and predictability) that … offers discounts, and sells insurance.

No kidding. Check out those links to my posts. I’ve been saying this for years:

… So the other day I'm leafing through the new National Geographic and I see this (click here or click the thumbnail on the right). I get sucked in. Great story. It's something real - not a lot of aspirational vapor.

Back to Mr. Koopman’s Report:

“We want to enhance people’s quality of life,” says Jody Holtzman, AARP’s SVP, Thought Leadership.

Holtzman insists that the AARP genuinely wants to become more relevant to members…many of whom only stay members for just a few years after first turning 50.

Wow. I knew the percentage of Boomers joining AARP was low compared to previous generations (although the actual numbers stay relatively steady because there are so many of us), but had no idea that people join AARP, then dump their memberships after a few years.

Someone explain to me what this is all about:

imageWelcome to Life Reimagined – An idea from AARP
Powerful tools to help you discover your unique gifts and explore new possibilities for the road ahead.

Sounds a bit condescending to me – not unlike another site targeting Boomers:

30 July 2012
Next Avenue
… Isn’t it a tad patronizing to assume that Baby Boomers need to be taught how to live and handle their lives?  Just reading that makes me itchy and queasy.

The AARP site urges you to join and gather up calling cards that look a bit like playing cards from Old Maid:


image  om

imageThe site design is horrific: Teensy, spongy, light-gray fonts for squinting, centered paragraphs for headache-inducing reading, and cheesy cartoon characters that a four-year-old would find insulting.

Many of The Expert Advisors, among them Steve Gillon and Dr. Bill Thomas, are top notch.

This should be front and center – not buried in the hierarchy: Real Stories.

The other new site is great (except for the design)…

imageCreate The Good connects you with volunteer opportunities to share your life experiences, skills and passions in your community.

image… although the about page is much better than the landing page. It should be the landing page.  And I might rearrange it so you wouldn’t have to scroll to read the piece about Ethel Percy Andrus.

I punched in my zip and a dozen interesting volunteer opportunities popped up.  I’ve bookmarked a few.  Excellent service provided by AARP.

My point: If adults are looking for relevant information about this or that, give them relevant information. We don’t want to play games unless we want to play games. We’re not children. We’ve already played Go Fish, Old Maid, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders. 

13 March 2013

They watch your shows anyway. Part II

It’s a slow news week, especially when The New York Times poses such a moldy query:

Why Don’t Advertisers Care About Me Anymore?

CVRCompEvery answer to every question in the article can be found in the Intro and 1st Chapter of my book ©2005, 2007, available for free download:

Advertising to Baby Boomers (PDF)

Two swipes from the book:





And/or scroll through some posts:

6 September 2009
Boomer Backlash II
… Why couldn’t it have been a car?  Laundry soap?  Baked Beans? Gender-specific razors? Aluminum foil? A smart phone? Anything but some age-related malady.

08 March 2011
They watch your shows anyway.
[image11.png]… Almost immediately, the gentleman said, “There is no way I could sell this to an advertising agency.  They’re all twentysomethings – and have already told me, ‘Why target people over fifty?  They watch your shows anyway.’”

04 March 2013

Wrap Rage Redux

Dick Stroud unpacks the latest in insufferable packaging:

Packaging - a design nightmare
image…As consumers do battle to get their hands on their purchased product it seems that some companies make the task as difficult as possible. The resulting frustration ranges from a mild mutter to uncontrolled ‘wrap rage’…

Not much has changed.  I was ripping into wrapping years ago:

13 June 2005
Wrap Rage

12 June 2006
Boomers in Candyland
… "Bad packaging can make Baby Boomers feel incompetent; as marketers, you don't want to remind this group of people that they don't have the physical skills they had when they were younger."

Now it’s become a 2nd Amendment issue. Many folks believe that you have an inalienable right to protect yourself against Bubble Wrap with high-capacity assault weapons:


If you can get them out of the packaging:


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).