Advertising & Practical Thinking

The advertising profession is cold and cruel. The power of practical thinking is a perfect antidote.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Choice Group. Another bandwagon jumper.

Just yesterday I posted Mr. Stuart Elliot's column, followed by my presentation (from 2005) on the same topic. What follows is from today's Welcome to the bandwagon folks. Marketers, please read. You can reach Pentatwo at

Boomers Don't Want Your Pity, but They Do Demand Your Respect
The Early-Evening News and Syndicated Game Shows Are Not Media Solutions
Judann Pollack Published: October 08, 2007 A lot of people get depressed when they turn 40. For me, it happened five years earlier. That's because in passing the magic age of 34, I was officially falling off marketers' radar screens. After 17 years of being cradled in the most coveted and coddled of all demographics, I was thrust into no-man's land. Useless and washed up at age 35. Forget the pitches for premium liquor and Lexus: From here on, all my dedicated marketing would be for arthritis medications and hearing aids.
Advertising Age managing editor Judann Pollack ALSO: Comment on this column in the 'Your Opinion' box below. So imagine my surprise some years later (no, I won't say how many) when marketers suddenly began seeing the light. The $2 trillion stuffed into my pocket and those of my fellow baby boomers had inexplicably drawn the attention of everyone from Unilever to Martha Stewart and Ann Taylor, who have curiously developed a keen interest in courting my generation. And I say: Now you want me? Too damn bad. "You've got to continue to think about this target," Eileen Kozin, director-consumer futures at Unilever, told Ad Age's Jack Neff, who was one of the first to write about the change of heart among the corporate titans. "It's a huge target, and they're not going away. They're still going to be influential as they get older, and they've got the money to spend." That last bit is indisputable. There are an estimated 78 million boomers in the U.S. (born between 1946 and 1965), and we are retiring later and working more after retirement. And even before those golden years, we're shelling it out. Information Resources Inc. estimates boomers spend $46 billion annually on package goods alone, while Unilever's research shows that we buy a disproportionate 60% of all package goods. But my point is this: These statistics have pretty much always been true, so it's kind of galling that just now marketers have woken up to boomers' value. "We've definitely seen changes in the last two years," Larry W. Jones, president of TV Land, told Ad Age's Abbey Klaassen. "Three years ago the preponderance of advertisers out there were targeting 18-to-49. Today more and more have started buying into the 25-to-54 demo because [that demo] has the biggest pile of money, and it is growing faster than the 18-to-49 money." Not only do they suddenly now want us, they are going about trying to reach us in a similarly insulting ham-handed manner. You're not going to find me reading publications for the "aged," watching syndicated game shows or the early evening news -- the common media solution. For one thing, I'm still at work well past early news broadcasts and more likely to be catching up with news online. And while I can appreciate not having to shop in stores where Hello Kitty midriff shirts are the rage, I also don't want to be cornered in Chico's or a similar shop for "older" women. What's wrong with the average department store? "There's this preconceived notion that the so-called baby boomers are older than they really are," said Mr. Jones. "Baby boomers don't even identify with the term." You can say that again. Which is why Unilever appears to have hit a bump in its marketing campaign for Dove Pro-Age products. "For so long, the idea has been that people who are aging want to be young again," said Patty Bloomfield, VP-account director at Boombiz. "Boomers are saying, 'I'm aging, but I'm going to do it in a way that's graceful and still about who I am.'" I don't think boomers want to be young again -- I don't think they feel old in the first place. One thing this generation isn't about is giving in to anything gracefully. Its hallmark has been forcefulness, decisiveness and strength. So if you insist on reaching out to us now -- years after you so cavalierly threw us away -- your communication better be honest and thoughtful. And you know what? An apology wouldn't hurt.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wrinkled Baby Boomers and "The Choice Group"

It has been a long time since I have expressed my thoughts in writing. Hope to continue on a more regular basis...

On Thursday, October 4, 2007, Mr. Stuart Elliot, a most respected columnist for The New York Times wrote an article about "Wrinkled Baby Boomers." Sorry, Mr Elliot, I would not call them "Wrinkled." I would call them "The Choice Group," which is exactly what I did when I wrote a presentation in 2005 on the 45-64 age group. I published my presentation in 2006 when I started this blog.

I am reproducing Mr. Elliot's article and my presntation on "The Choice Group."

October 4, 2007
Tailoring Messages to a New Audience: Wrinkled Baby Boomers
YOUNG LOVE,” the longtime siren song of Madison Avenue, is being remixed as marketers increasingly turn their attention to consumers born when “45” meant music rather than the number after 44 and “Apple” meant fruit.
The ardor for younger consumers has lasted for decades, fueled by perceptions of them as being more likely to try new products and change brands and to spend almost every penny they make. Older consumers, by contrast, were less desirable because they were deemed to be shoppers with entrenched habits who lived sedentary, frugal lives.
The arrival of the baby boomers — the 76 million Americans born from 1946 to 1964 — into the upper age brackets is the leading reason for the shift in opinions about older consumers. Free-spending boomers think young, to quote from a
Pepsi-Cola slogan of their era, regardless of how old they actually are.
“It’s a demographic group that’s too big and too rich to ignore,” said Jerry Shereshewsky, chief executive at in New York, which publishes an e-mail newsletter and a Web site.
“There’s still a lot of missionary work, but little by little, advertisers are getting it,” said Mr. Shereshewsky, who has hired the New York office of Taxi to create a campaign planned for the end of the year.
Another reason for the change is that consumers in their 60s, 70s and 80s are behaving differently from their counterparts in previous decades, particularly in their willingness to travel, dine out and adopt new technologies.
“They see life as something to grab and want to look great, feel great,” said Mary Lou Quinlan, who runs Just Ask a Woman, a marketing company in New York that works for clients like Clairol and
“They won’t settle for the meager choices marketers might have offered in the past,” she added.

A sign of the shifting attitudes toward older consumers is the title of a conference on Tuesday aimed at women 40 and older: the Reinvention Convention. The host of the conference, at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, is More magazine, published by the
Meredith Corporation, and the sponsors include Wachovia and Harley-Davidson.
“These are people who are changing their lives, doing things they’re passionate about,” said Laurie Clemens, rider services marketing lead at Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee. “We want to connect with them.”
Other efforts to reach those consumers include garage party events at local dealerships, she added, along with courses for new riders at Rider’s Edge, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle school, and advertisements in magazines like More, Shape and Women’s Health.
More, introduced by Meredith in 1998, seeks a readership of older women. Although ad pages have been making percentage gains in double digits, “there are certain categories that still have this obsession with youth,” said Brenda Saget Darling, vice president and publisher, among them fashion.
“It’s a challenge that we’ll probably always face,” she added.
Offsetting that is business from marketers in categories like automobiles, including Lexus and Volvo, and financial services, including Wachovia, which concentrates its pitches on retirement planning (
“For a 20-something, retirement should be on your radar,” said Lynne
Ford, senior vice president and director for the retail retirement group at Wachovia in Charlotte, N.C., but “around age 40, retirement comes onto the scope.”
“Financial services companies have historically woefully underperformed in reaching out to women,” she added. “We want to change the model.”

Another marketer rethinking its approach is
Biomet, which sells artificial hips and knees. A campaign that began this week, by Boyden & Youngblutt in Fort Wayne, Ind., features Mary Lou Retton, the former Olympic gymnast, who is 39.
“She definitely trends in with our new group of demographics, boomers who want to be more active and don’t want to live with pain,” said Stacey Jones, director for consumer marketing at Biomet Orthopedics in Warsaw, Ind.
Ms. Retton not only endorses Biomet, Ms. Jones said, she is a customer, too, having received a Magnum hip when she was 37.
(Yes, Biomet’s joints bear brand names. Another popular product is the Oxford Partial Knee.)
Not every marketing maneuver aimed at older consumers is wildly successful. For example, the trade publication Advertising Age reported last week that a new line of anti-aging products sold by
Unilever under the Dove Pro-Age name is being outsold by a similar line of products sold by Procter & Gamble under the Olay Definity brand.
The Pro-Age line drew widespread attention for ads of nude grandmothers, tastefully photographed by Annie Leibovitz. The article in Advertising Age wondered whether the Dove ads “went a step too far in embracing aging in all its naked, wrinkled and sagging glory”; the ads for Olay Definity are more conventional.
An older woman “doesn’t wake up and say, ‘I’m glad I look older today,’” said Ms. Quinlan of Just Ask a Woman, who is also a columnist for More and is to speak at the conference.
“As marketers try to come up with a new set of role models and icons,” she added, “there will be missteps.”

The Choice Group

"The Choice Group" watch prime time programs on Network Television on any day of the week. Most, if not all, advertisers are doing their best to reach and influence mostly those in the age group 18-44.
Many marketers are now taking "being enamored" with this audience group, and indulging them, to new levels. They are trying to reach the 18-44 with brand extensions, product differentiation, enhanced packaging, and special promotions. All as if they are the only consumers of their products; and, this we believe is something inappropriate.Till a few years ago, 18-44 with all its subsets, was the audience in terms of numbers, affluence, and spending patterns.Today, and for the foreseeable future, most marketers have to admit that there is a different audience they must start reaching. An audience that is nearly half the US Adult 18+ population, accounting for over 40% of the total US spending. This oversight, we believe, is costing marketers billions of dollars.According to the US Census, the 45-64 age group is responsible for over 42% of total US spending (over 36% of total household spending.)Yet, this audience is widely, and mistakenly, ignored.PentaTwo believes this is wrong. This age group should be "The Choice Group" for many marketers. Something ignored!
We do find it intriguing that "The Choice Group" is indeed ignored. Could it be because:
Network Television, especially prime time is programmed only to reach the younger audiences effectively?
Most advertising agencies are designed to cater to the needs of the younger audiences? Look at the age of the creative groups in these agencies! Do they really think they can reach "The Choice Group" just because they are using songs like "Happy Together," and "Do You Believe in Magic?" for every other brand?
There is this old saying that brand loyalties are built at a young age. Today, is this not a myth?
Most agencies cater only to product/service categories, as opposed to specializing in gaining an uncommonly common knowledge of the consumer?
Those in "The Choice Group" are perceived to be:
Brand loyal consumers and they do not switch brands.
Hesitant to experience new products and new services.
The Geritol and Grecian Formula market. Today, they are even referred to as the Viagra audience and the Matlock generation!
A part of the total audience. The line of thinking is that the product and brand messages aimed at the younger audiences will move up the age ladder and reach them sometime and somehow.
Difficult to reach, just because prime time TV cannot be used efficiently.
"The Choice Group" constitutes more than just a head count. It is what is inside their head that counts:
They launched and shaped more successful brands than any other demographic group.
Their core values were shaped largely by what was going on in their world and cultures when they were about ten years old.
They have more in common with their own 20-year old self than they have with their 20-year old children.
They grew up at a time when life changed faster than during any other era.
"The Choice Group" grew up with:
The Vietnam War and Give Peace a Chance.
The Birth of Rock and Roll and The Day the Music Died.
Falcons and Beetles.
The Eagles and The Beatles.
Bell Bottoms and Bikinis.
JFK and MLK.
FAX and FedEx.
Civil Rights and Women's Lib.
Broadway Joe and Masterpiece Theater.
Cheers and Light Beers.
Bunker and Carson. Cannon and Gunsmoke.
Jumbo Jets and Mini Vans.
PentaTwo knows. We grew up with them. Some of us are still growing up. We may be middle-aged or old, but we think of ourselves as young. The word "retirement" is not in our vocabulary. We are intellectually and physically active. We have experienced more physical, cultural, financial, environmental, and technological changes in life than any other single group. We have learned by living.
Marketers and their advertising agencies need to open their eyes. Look around them. Listen to the voices. Read what is being written. They may see and hear what we do.
Many of the marketers and their agency folks may be a part of "The Choice Group." Do they see, read and hear their own messages? Something for them to think about.
posted by PentaTwo @
9:35 AM
Saturday, September 02, 2006