12 December 2013

In The News: 10th Anniversary

This is a long post all about me.

Ten years ago this Saturday I was featured in a newspaper article about baby boomers.  It was the first time I was asked about advertising and boomers.

Way back in 1996 yours truly was web-writing about this motley, energetic crew – and the press would interview me and a few others because we were the only folks tossing up info for and about us:

Aging Hipsters

… first appeared in January of 1996. Originally titled the Baby Boomer Homepage, it was conceived simply as a portal for Boomer chat.

Boomers International

Who We Are: Boomers International is a free membership community for baby boomers, seniors and their families. Since our debut in 1996, we provide boomers related information, research, trends & opinion to our visitors.

Along with you-know-who:

http://web.archive.org/web/20000728001500im_/http://www.suite101.com/suite101.GIFBaby Boomers Suite101
Peace symbol or Mercedes-Benz logo?What a Gen-X and younger world we have here in cyberspace - and it should be. It's their culture, their time. Still, plenty is available for all ages.

In 2003 I read a book by Brent Green and thought I could add to the general discussion. I’d been in advertising on and off through most of my life, so…

Advertising to Baby Boomers (Part I): Mentioning Age (2003)
When you are targeting any market, age is one of many factors. But this does not mean campaigns should mention age. Advertising aimed at Baby Boomers with themes such as 'Because you're older," or "Feel (or look) young again" can be jarring to the senses. It may leave a bad taste in many mouths. The subtext may imply a specific age range, but there is rarely a need to point it out.

More web pieces followed, and before long there they were at the top of the Yahoo/Alta Vista rankings (this was in the year 2 B.G. – Before Google).

A journalist found me:

[image%255B12%255D.png]Don't call them old
by Jean Starr
14 December 2003
… Chuck Nyren is a leading creative consultant, copywriter, and columnist, who focuses on baby boomer demography, sociology and culture.
Jean Starr"Not wanting to get/be/look older isn't anything new. However, baby boomers will do it a bit differently," he said. "Looking and being healthy will be more important than toupees and botox. While botox and the like are getting a lot of press, I'm guessing only a small percentage of people are using stuff like that. Being able to ride a bike, play tennis and garden will be more important than looking good and feeling (bad)."

Thanks, Ms. Starr.  You started a small (very small) avalanche. A collection of fallen rocks:

Ads today often skip over baby boomers
By Julie Muhlstein (2005)
Everett Herald
image Chuck Nyren is feeling abandoned. It's not about friends or loved ones. He thinks he's being ignored by advertising.

"What's happening now, advertising agencies are pretty much run by kids in their 20s and early 30s," said Nyren, an ad industry consultant who lives in Snohomish.

Ads target empty nests, full wallets
by Bob Moos (2005)
Dallas Morning News
image "Yes, I have my favorite toothpaste. But other than that, I'm wide open for suggestions," said Chuck Nyren, 55, the author of Advertising to Baby Boomers. "Why do ad execs believe boomers don't switch brands?"

Mr. Nyren said advertising agencies often ignore or misread boomers' preferences because most of their creative people are too young to understand that generation. "The agencies better hire more boomers if they want to reach them," he said.

imageActive lives defy aging (2006)
By Bill Glauber image

"There will have to be a revolution in the advertising world," says Chuck Nyren, author of Advertising to Baby Boomers. "Baby boomers do not want to be twenty again, or thirty again," Nyren writes. "They want to feel as good as they possibly can for the ages they are. They do not want to be marketed and advertised to as if they were young adults or thirty-somethings."

A Booming Opportunity (2006) image
By Renee M. Covino
"In England, they've done a lot of studies about 'wrap rage,' and it goes much deeper than not being able to open a bottle of medicine, for instance. It's anything, any consumer goods packaging that people have trouble opening, and as Baby Boomers are starting to age, they are very sensitive to this," says Chuck Nyren, who just happens to be another Baby Boomer and also creative strategist and consultant, as well as author of "Advertising to Baby Boomers." According to him, "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."

Boomers: A Web-Marketing Bonanza (2006)
imageBy Olga Kharif
But many sites are still struggling with their identities and have not yet hit their stride, says boomer advertising consultant Chuck Nyron, author of Advertising for Baby Boomers  (Paramount Market Publishing, 2005) "Every site has happy, smiling faces of baby boomers and says: 'We want to inspire you'," he explains.

Above, name is misspelled.   

imageTrying to catch the wave (2006)
By Bill King
image He’s proud that an industry once monopolized by white males opened itself to women and other races and ethnicities under the watch of the boomers. But there was one way in which his generation of marketers threw up a wall.

“Our blind spot was age,” Nyren said. “We were the ones who started only marketing to ourselves. We created the demo. We taught people how to market to it. And now, we’re paying the price, because the agencies have all been brainwashed into thinking that to be worth anything [to marketers], you have to be young.”

'Elderbloggers' Shy Away From Money Talk (2008)
By Candice Novak
image "Most older people hit that Google button, and in some ways it confuses them more than it enlightens them," Seattle marketing expert and blogger Chuck Nyren, 57, says, "because there's so much crap you have to wade through to get something that is truthful or helpful."

I was talking more about this – not Google Search.

Baby boomers become the forgotten consumer (2008)
image By Jennifer Mann, McClatchy Newspapers
Nyren said he often hears from marketers that advertising isn't effective on those 50-plus consumers, that it's a waste of time and money.

No, he said, they're just not doing it correctly.

"Speaking to the 50-plus, it has to be different in terms of writing and graphics and presentation," Nyren said. "A 20-something is an easier sell - you have to work harder, work smarter to get that 50-plus customer, but the return on investment, if you do it right, can be tremendous."

Adult underwear no longer being given the silent treatment
By Bob Moos (2009)
image Chuck Nyren, a Seattle advertising consultant and author of Advertising to Baby Boomers, says the TV spots are carefully crafted to appeal to boomers who, if they don't use Depends themselves, may be caregivers for parents who do.

"Morris got the right people and took the right approach," he said. "Now, if only other advertisers would hire boomers to pitch refrigerators, soap and other products."

Businesses Fighting For Baby Boomer Dollars (2009)
imageBy Mary Motzko Aside from age issues, Nyren added that there are many different personality types included in the baby boomer generation, from former hippies to conservatives. "Evoking the '60s, it's not the smartest thing to do."

Boomers a key market for retailers, as long as it's marketed right (2013)
By Romina Maurino
The Canadian Press
"If you're over 50 and you watch television, it just keeps reinforcing the fact that you're sick. That automatically kind of turns you off to everything. They think of baby boomers as either old, smiling vapid people on a beach, or as old hippies."

Boomers buy a variety of products, just like younger people do, and pigeonholing them into certain categories isn't going to help retailers make the most out of their shopping dollars, he added.

Happy Anniversary to me.

05 December 2013

Unpacking Black Friday, Cyber Monday

I lied. It’s impossible to unpack them, what with all the hype, razzle-dazzle stats, misinformation.

If you read much of the nonsense on the web, Black Friday was a big fail, Cyber Monday a big success – even though old-fashioned shopping brought in about six times the sales throughout the five-day period. 

My three favorite stories/stats:

Social Media Drove Just 1% of Black Friday Online Sales
by Seth Fiegerman
imageIBM found that just about 1% of purchases and traffic on ecommerce websites for Black Friday and the week as a whole were directly generated by social media sites.

imageCyber Monday won’t kill Black Friday for a long time
by Lydia DePillis
Online sales are also still a tiny percentage of overall volume -- only 6 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

imageTablets Are Becoming More Important Than Smartphones For Online Shopping
by Emily Adler
…Tablet-focused advertising shows promise. The data shows that audiences are surprisingly receptive to interactive tablet ads…

This all sounds vaguely familiar…

The Social Media - WOMM - Web Advertising Posts (2005-Present)

04 November 2013
Smartphones & Tablets, Apples & Oranges
Clients and just about everybody else seem to be confused about advertising on all these new-fangled gadgets…

imageBottom line:

Social media sites drove $148 Million in online sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, a two percent share and flat compared to last year.

$148 Million.  Out of multiple Billions. 

The silliest piece I read won’t be linked to because I’m too nice a guy.  It was written by someone who did a Boolean search of the term “Black Friday” and discovered:

…The term “Black Friday” mirrors what actually happened: Cyber Monday stole the show.  I measured through the end of Cyber Monday, and this is the word cloud:


So tons of people on the web were searching for and babbling about what’s on the web. Wow. That means a lot.

More reading:

imageDelighting In Digital Dumbness
If you have a healthy sense of the absurd, there is great joy to be found in the dumbness of some digital mediacrats.

26 November 2013

GrandBoomers Redux

Since it’s that time of year again, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday and just going out shopping any ol’ time and/or flopping on the couch with your tablet looking at tablets to buy loved ones – let’s look at some old news wrapped up as new:

The Old (so old that once you get there the links may have withered):

05 November 2006
Grand-scale Grandparents
Baby Boomers are all over their grandchildren - and Millennials in general…

"Boomers think their grandkids are too programmed, and they're looking to stir things up."

13 February 2007
… As with just about everything, Baby Boomers are redefining what grandparents are supposed to be – and do. Such troublemakers…

10 February 2011
Green GrandBoomers in Toyland
A few of these Green toy companies might get the smarts – and market their products directly to Baby Boomer grandparents.

The New:

Why You Should Be Targeting Grandparents This Holiday Season
… They have the money and the desire to splurge on things they truly want and are redefining what it means to grow older.

Culled from my book © 2005/2007:


It will be the Baby Boomers who will be the first to pick and choose, to ignore or be seduced by leading-edge technology marketing. There’s a simple reason for this. We have the money to buy this stuff. Experts say we’ll continue to have the money for at least the next twenty years. Write us off at your own peril.

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.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, or everything old is new again.  Take your pick.

18 November 2013

A Mishmash of Topics

ADD or multitasking? Whatever it is, you’re getting a mishmash of topics:

The newsonomics of the surprisingly persistent appeal of newsprint
by Ken Doctor
… It’s print subscribers — now being priced up and upsold into all-access digital plans — who are responsible for the only bright spot in newspaper revenue growth. Though 85-95 percent of these subscribers are staying through these rounds of price increases, only a minority of them actually use the newspapers’ digital products much. They like newsprint.

I wonder why…

15 April 2007
Positioning Magazines for Baby Boomers
There are active and passive parts of our day. Without getting into too much psychobabble, as you get older the passive side needs more nourishment. It’s not really passive. It’s focused absorption. At some point you have to climb out of your frenetic digital nest and concentrate on one thing. It might be reading a book, watching a TV show or movie, listening to music, looking out the window.

Or immersing yourself in a magazine.

Or a newspaper.

Late-life Metamorphosis
These boomers — born again as entrepreneurs — are the stars of their own second acts
By Hanah Cho
… For more than a decade, 55- to 64-year-olds have started more new businesses than any other age group, according to the nonprofit Kauffman Foundation, which promotes business ownership.

Sounds familiar. From my book ©2005/2007:

17 September 2009
Late Bloomer Boomers
CVRComp… Many of these folks are writing fiction and non-fiction, becoming graphic artists and photographers, and playing and composing music. And just as many are doing astonishingly creative things in the business world, often as entrepreneurs.

Another book you should check out:

Creating Results surveyed hundreds of 40+ American consumers (Gen X, Baby Boomers and Silent Generation members) to find out:

  • What turns them on — and what turns them off — when they visit websites.
  • How websites and social media influence their housing decisions.
  • imageTheir concerns regarding social media marketing and social networks like Facebook.
  • How attitudes have changed since the agency’s 2010 study.

The findings from this research have been collected in a new eBook, with analysis and insights to make your digital marketing more effective with Baby Boomers and beyond.


Marketing to Caregivers
By Andrew Kaufman
… By understanding the daily challenges and decisions that affect the lives of caregivers (and their patients), you’ll start to identify how your organization can address those needs in ways that strengthen your brand and increase your exposure among this influential audience.

AARP Sends a Thank-You to Caregivers
By Jane L. Levere
imageAARP and the Advertising Council are beginning a new advertising and social media campaign this week designed to illustrate the many roles caregivers play and to thank them for this assistance.

imageSounds like good ideas to me:

14 May 2010
The Daughter Trap
…What an appreciated relief it would be for a couple of major outfits to acknowledge and support caregivers.

Let’s hope I can focus next time around.

04 November 2013

Smartphones & Tablets, Apples & Oranges

Clients and just about everybody else seem to be confused about advertising on all these new-fangled gadgets.

Added to the mix are odd, stupefying concepts like digital and mobile and native. Most of this stuff is gobbledygook, but I’ll try to separate the chaff from the chaff:

07 December 2012
What is Digital Advertising?
untitled… The newest buzz-phrase has me completely baffled: Native Advertising.  One social media guru described it as advertising that is ‘baked into’ the content. I guess it’s sort of like the old Burns & Allen Show where  one episode had Gracie baking a cake using Betty Crocker Cake Mix, a sponsor…

Television is now digital, commercials are shot with digital cameras – so are all  commercials digital advertising?  Are digital spots on digital radio digital advertising?  Print ads are created on computers, usually rendered as PDFs, delivered digitally. Digital advertising?  Magazines, both editorial and ads, are digitally produced.  Digital advertising?

07 January 2013
Moses and the pharmaceutical industry once had exclusive dibs on this word.  Nowadays, tablet commonly refers to a specific type of computer doodad technology.

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…

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.

What is mobile advertising?  It used to be placards on the sides of buses.  Some people still think so.

If I tuck a magazine under my arm and take it with me, is that mobile advertising?  If I’m home on my couch flipping through Flipboard on my tablet that I don’t take anywhere anymore because the thrill of brandishing it is gone, I just use it at home - would those big, almost full screen ads be traditional advertising?

I’ve written about this before:

01 May 2010
image…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…

And this:

15 April 2007
Positioning Magazines for Baby Boomers
There are active and passive parts of our day. Without getting into too much psychobabble, as you get older the passive side needs more nourishment. It’s not really passive. It’s focused absorption. At some point you have to climb out of your frenetic digital nest and concentrate on one thing. It might be reading a book, watching a TV show or movie, listening to music, looking out the window.

Or immersing yourself in a magazine.

Tablets are getting bigger, lighter, faster, easier to handle.

Those 6.4 ounces make all the difference when, as you recline while reading or watching a movie, you conk out and the iPad falls forward to bonk you on the nose. The Air won’t hurt you the way the old iPad did.

Smartphones will stop getting bigger – unless some evolutionary quirk transforms human hands to the dimensions of baseball mitts. 

Advertising on smartphones?  Only if you think something half the size of a matchbook cover will catch and hold anybody’s attention. 

Smartphones & Tablets.  Apples & Oranges.  Don’t confuse them.