Advertising to Boomers: sage advice from cattle country

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Boomers, TV westerns and the inner cowboy

There’s nothing like a cookout or a backyard barbecue to bring out the inner cowboy.

Sure, it seems kinda sexist in the 21st century but when it comes to burning meat in the outdoors, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Which means sidelining the womenfolk and heading for the flames.

For older Boomers it’s probably a holdover from many a Western movie and TV show back in the day, and the cowboy campfires that left such indelible memories.

GunsmokeWesterns were extraordinarily popular in television’s golden age. In the late 1950s and early 1960s over 20 ran weekly in prime time.

But they weren’t just popular among little cowboys; little cowgirls also dreamed they might bring in a herd or ramrod a Big Valley ranch some day.

The three longest-running TV westerns, Gunsmoke (1955-1975), Bonanza (1959-1973) and The Virginian (1962-1971) kept the trail open until the ’70s, when the genre finally faded.

Advice for disruptive advertisers: always drink upstream from the herd

Here in Boulder, Colorado, we’re deep in cattle country lore. Home to 2.6 million head, in 2013 the state ranked #10 in the US (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.)

Back in the wild west days Charles Goodnight – inventor of the chuck wagon – trailed herds from the Lone Star State to Denver in 1866 and through to Cheyenne in 1868. In the process, he launched the enduring mythology of the cowboy cattle drive.

There is a old adage out west: always drink upstream from the herd. Anyone who ever drank downstream knows this to be sage advice.

Drink upstreamToday’s marketing herd tells regular everyday brands not to “waste” their advertising dollars on older Americans. Allegedly, we are too stuck in the past to change brands or loyalties or try new things. When we finally ride out of the conventional 25-54 demo and into the sunset it’s adios amigos.

But young marketing radicals – hey, make that Millennial mavericks, pard’ner – are challenging this notion. Looking away from the well-trodden path of the plodding herd, they are discovering that Boomers are actually America’s most adaptable generation.

Yep, marketing to Boomers is the new big upstream idea. We have been adapting and reinventing all our lives; it’s way too late for us to stop now.

Featuring Boomers in ads: almost as tough as pro rodeo

Rodeo Pro Hall of FameMillennial visionaries who see the huge benefits of advertising to Americans over 50 will be bucking an establishment that can be as tough on young rear ends as the pro rodeo circuit.

No mistake about it, daring young marketers are in for one heck of a rough ride before they convince the old guard; they’ll have to accept a more than a few bruises on the way to success.

Still, advertising directly to folks over 50 is well worth the effort. We own 85% of America’s household net worth; we’re quite a prize.

Over three-quarters of this vast spending power belongs to a single audience, the Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1964. If its 89 million members were a country it would be the 3rd largest economy on the planet – a larger, more affluent market than Japan, Germany, France or the UK … larger than Canada and Australia combined.

And it’s a wide open new territory for mavericks bold enough to escape the plodding herd. Come on up and stake your claim.

Opportunity Wild West

Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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