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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What do you think?

In days of old -- before marketers wised up -- most television advertising was targeted towards the overvalued 18- to 35-year-old demographic. Then statistics revealed Baby Boomers have more discretionary income than any other age group and control 75 percent ($7 trillion) of the total American households' net worth.
Even in a recession, Boomers account for a dramatic 40 percent of total consumer demand, and they're demanding attention be paid.
Marketing clearly needed a makeover, and present ads reflect that change. L'Oreal hired Diane Keaton to talk about how "We're still worth it." Grey-haired and gorgeous John Slattery of "Mad Men" is hawking the Lincoln MKX. Disneyland is targeting the demographic that often pays for such expensive vacations by showing three generations enjoying the house that Mickey Mouse built. Then, naturally, there are all the erectile-dysfunction ads featuring virile and happy Baby Boomers leading uncompromising lives.
The trick is to strike the right note in television advertising. Boomers don't want to be stereotyped or treated with an ageist attitude, according to Brent Green, president of Denver-based marketing consultancy Brent Green & Associates.
"They want validity," said Green. "Few are frivolous or impulsive in their buying choices; rather, they are deliberate with a seasoned sense of themselves. They're set to shatter traditional assumptions about the sixth and seventh decades of life."
The generation born between 1946 and 1955 also appreciates a humorous approach and a harkening back to familiar imagery from a shared history.
Advertisers are already unveiling Super Bowl ads that take these factors into consideration:
  • Volkswagen has gone viral with "The Bark Side," featuring dogs giving a "ruff" treatment to Darth Vader's theme song.
  • Lipton is digging into the "Star Wars" archive as well, promoting their Brisk soda with a humorous version of the ultimate laser battle between Yoda and Darth Maul.
  • Kia's "Drive the Dream" prominently features hair band Motley Crew.
Considering this year's Super Bowl ads are going for an average of $3.5 million per 30 seconds, marketers are smart to play into this valuable demographic.
"(Boomers) go about fulfilling their needs differently, making their purchasing behavior unique," according to Immersion Interactive's book "Dot Boom: Marketing to Baby Boomers Through Meaningful Online Engagement."
"Dot Boom" also discusses the promise that online marketing to Baby Boomers holds. The recent popularity of Free Shipping Day, evidenced by $1.07 billion in sales, and the websiteFreeShipping.org, serve as exhibits one and two. Despite their affluence, Boomers value savings over brand loyalty when they shop the Internet.
Despite the over-sexed Super Bowl ads of the online company Go Daddy, other dot-commers are expected to take a more mature viewpoint.
Apple clearly was ahead of the trend with their "1984" ad, aired only once during the Super Bowl game of 1984. The iconic advertisement featured a Baby Boomer athlete shattering an image of Big Brother, referencing the generation's individualistic and athletic tendencies, as well as a book read by millions back in their high school days.

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Kate Forgach is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, "ABC World News," NBC's "TODAY" show and many other media outlets.

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