25 June 2015

Looking great, but we’re very ill.

Last week I wrote an Afterword for a book to be published by Palgrave Macmillan. It’s about advertising to the 50+ market in Japan.

One subject covered is consumer reaction to all those age-related illness and prescription drug commercials. Through the years I’ve blogged about this a bunch of times. So I exhumed a few posts, chopped and tossed bits and pieces together, and much of the info ended up in the Afterword.  The raw ingredients:

16 September 2009
Boomer Backlash II
…  Why couldn’t it have been a car?  Laundry soap?  A computer?  A razor?  Anything but some age-related malady:

Use only as directedbcoml
By Joseph P. Kahn
There were glossy pitches for Centrum Cardio multivitamins, AARP supplemental medicare insurance plans, Visine … Contour Meter diabetes testers (now available in five vibrant colors!), Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel foot insoles, Flomax (for urinary and prostate problems), Wal-Mart prescription-drug services, Children's Benadryl Allergy and Sinus Liquid, Centrum Silver vitamin tablets, Boniva (Sally Field playing a nimble game of Twister with her granddaughter this time), Tena Serenity Pads bladder protection, and One-a-Day 50 Plus vitamins.

The Backlash: If every time someone over fifty sees a commercial targeting them and it’s always for an age-related product or service, pretty soon their eyes will glaze over, they’ll get itchy and grumpy.

I guess during the last few years of television watching I’ve been ignoring these spots because they annoy me. I’ve treated them as white noise. But because I’d just finished writing about them again, over the last week they’ve been jumping out and assaulting me.  Not pleasant experiences.

And not much has changed. We’re still portrayed as smiling, vapid pod people:

imageAt first it was refreshing to see folks over forty-five portrayed in ads and on the web—but now almost every 50+ site is centered around generic photos of smiling, vapid, mindless people in their fifties and sixties, usually in warm-up suits, always prancing around beaches, if not staring lovingly at one another, then in groups, arms draped and tucked every which way like groping octopi.

fish2Most of the time we’re in slow motion.  We float around the screen, dreamlike, as if drifting in a digitized aquarium.

But we look pretty good, usually. Although during all this surreal sashaying, the voice overs warn us not all is well.  We’re really quite ill. If not from whatever affliction we have that we’re taking drugs for, then from the beastly side effects.

Talk about cognitive dissonance.  I can’t wait to get back to the white noise.

Just for fun:

They're Grreeaat!’: The Enduring Charm of Advertising Characters
Tony the Tiger, the Jolly Green Giant, and Mr. Clean give a likable human face to their products.

mr product

More about Warren Dotz

26 May 2015

Business & Brains

Just updating slews of previous posts. As the old saying doesn’t go, everything new is old again:

Why all over 50s should start a business
By Jamie Dunn
There are so many factors as to why being over 50 can be a huge advantage when entering into the world of business and entrepreneurship.  Here's just a few of them...
Well, maybe not all of us.  Then we wouldn’t be able to hire ourselves – along with most other age and ethnic groups.  I’m all for diversity:
06 July 2011 Diversity = Productivity Redux
29 May 2013 Intergenerational Teams A Strength
The baby boomer business boom
Turn 55 and you become invisible, according to traditional marketing lore – ads for funeral plans and continence aids notwithstanding – but has that begun to change as the baby boomer cohort moves into the golden years?  Yes, says marketing commentator Adam Ferrier who believes a youth dominated marketing and advertising industry has missed a big mark in the past.
I should reference everything I’ve posted here for the last twelve years.  Or, try this:

Human Resources/Brain Power

And there’s this:

More Older Adults Are Becoming Inventors
… Whether as volunteers or for profit, older inventors like Mr. Nepper are riding a rising tide of American innovation.
Only a few posts ago I (sadly) posted about brains:
17 April 2015 Barbara Strauch: 1951-2015… In 2010, Ms. Strauch published “The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind,” which concluded that certain cognitive functions peak fairly late, when people are in their 60s.
Along with forgetting where you left your keys, there’s now more:
Brain and behavior are modifiable, even as we get older By Marilynn Larkin
Research on cognitive plasticity overturns stereotypes of aging and suggests human development isn’t cast in stone … It seems the more information we gather about a given field or domain, the more likely we are to maintain competence in that area because the brain develops strategies to do so …
Sometimes I forget where I’ve left all my posts on this subject.  And I often forget that I’ve already linked to something earlier in a post:
Human Resources/Brain Power
Maybe more brain games’ll help.  Or I’ve forgotten that maybe they won’t:
For an Aging Brain, Looking for Ways to Keep Memory Sharp By Jane E. Brody

05 May 2015

Sounds Vaguely Familiar…

A handful of familiars:  

Boomers Flock to Niche Retirement Communities
by Daniel Bortz
Stargazers, equestrians, and hippies find like-minded friends and age together.

http://www.usnews.com/static/images/homepage-logo.pngRetirement communities aren't just geared toward golfers and pool loungers anymore. Niche retirement communities are on the rise… "Retirees want more choices," Carle explains. "When you have 78 million baby boomers, they have a lot of expectations with retirement."

How Baby Boomers Are Creating Their Own Retirement Communities
by Teresa Mears

From my book Advertising to Baby Boomers © 2005, 2007:

book excerpt

Also culled from the book, and a PDF download:

Chapter Four: Give Boomers Room for Choices
….When developing or molding a community for Baby Boomers, start with the concept of ―neutral. Do not confuse this with ―sameness. For example, when designing an indoor community space, do not assume that it will be used mostly for Bingo. Fashion it with flexibility so that it may be used for almost anything...

The Name Game:

Redefining Senior Living For Boomers Through The NameStorm Project

From my book ©2005, 2007:

… The common term used for such places is “Planned Communities.” However, when presenting planned communities to the public, Baby Boomers could wince at the concept. You know it’s planned, we know it’s planned (What else could it be?)—but “planned” may sound too restrictive to Boomers. We don’t like the idea of anything planned. We want to do it ourselves, construct our own lives. Let us sustain the illusion, or a partial illusion: communities are not planned. We do not want to live in prefab theme parks …

Twitterdum & Twitterdee:

Twitter at the Crossroads
by David Auerbach
image… Twitter as we know it is over. While the early release of ugly revenue numbers sent the company’s stock spiraling Tuesday, the actual quarterly earnings report that followed that afternoon was even worse.

From September 2012:

Twitter & Advertising
Twitter is a fascinating phenomenon, has worldwide cultural and political influence … 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.

From NPR:

For Advertisers, Baby Boomers Are A Market Hiding In Plain Sight
NPRBaby boomers account for about half of all consumer spending, yet only 10 percent of marketing dollars are aimed their way.

What to link to?  Everything I’ve been screaming about for years and years (as have others).

17 April 2015

Barbara Strauch: 1951-2015

Barbara Strauch, 63, Science and Health Editor at The Times and Author, Dies
… In 2010, Ms. Strauch published “The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind,” which concluded that certain cognitive functions peak fairly late, when people are in their 60s.

Sad news. I was thoroughly impressed with The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain and blogged it a bunch of times. Follow the links below for more info – along with an NPR interview with Ms. Strauch:

03 January 2010
2010: The Year of The Baby Boomer Brain
Not that the last few years haven’t had plenty of neurons bouncing about and flashing all sorts of surprising info about middle-aged noggins…

16 April 2010
The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain
… Ms. Strauch talks about “creating a disorienting dilemma” and “shaking up the cognitive egg” to get our attention – not something usually done when advertising to Baby Boomers. Most ads pander and lull us to sleep.

07 May 2010
Memo to H.R: Older Brains = Smarter Brains
… A new book makes the case that our brains can age as well as a vintage French burgundy; many of our most important cognitive functions actually improve with age …

09 April 2015

Chasing the grey yen

The Economist has a good piece about marketing to the 50+:

imageChasing the grey yen
Japanese firms have wisdom to hand down about selling to the elderly
Apr 11th 2015 | TOKYO
… Some companies, such as Wacoal, have created separate brands and marketing campaigns for their new products designed for older consumers, so as to avoid damaging the “young” image of their main brand. However, Florian Kohlbacher, co-editor of “The Silver Market Phenomenon”, a marketing handbook, argues that it is often better, instead of creating separate products just for the old, to design ones that bridge the generations.

The Silver Market Phenomenon.  I know that book.  In fact, I wrote a chapter in it:

The Silver Market Phenomenon 2nd Edition Released
… I contributed, updating the 2nd Edition with lots of new material – as have the other contributors (along with nine  new chapters/contributors).

Dick Stroud also produced an excellent chapter.

More from The Economist:

… In the end, says Mr Kohlbacher, all managers will have to find ways to market to the old without either offending them or putting off younger consumers. They might start by actually talking to the elderly, who have more experience of shopping, after all, than anyone else.

Just for fun:

huffington_post_logo1I Have The Wrong Wrinkles
by Chuck Nyren
… There they were. One way over on the side, another under my chin, another near my left ear. Wrinkles that weren't mine.