Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange changes
David Bowie’s ch-ch-ch-changes – written by a Boomer for Boomers – says it all: we are the ultimate adapters. Not faddists and followers, adapters and adopters. Big difference.
In 1972 our moms and dads rolled their eyes at our counterculture Toyotas, Datsuns and Hondas. Yes, counterculture, because VW was the official, approved anti-establishment import back when U.S. brands took 85% of new passenger vehicle sales.
We were so rad we were even cool with the name change from Datsun to Nissan. And that took some doing because the company displayed Datsun on one side of its Los Angeles HQ and Nissan on the other side for 6 schizophrenic months.
Then there was that digital revolution thing. Boomer kids Jobs, Wozniak, Allen and Gates were cutting edge back when IBM, Fairchild Camera and National Semiconductor ruled.
Naturally, we indulged our adorable precocious offspring when they wanted to play with our TI-99s, Atari 400s and Apple IIs. Who knew the little ingrates would grow up to be Millennials, land jobs in media and marketing and treat their Boomer moms and dads as if we haven’t progressed beyond the discovery of fire?
Actually, it’s not entirely their fault. The Madison Avenue hierarchy insisted that Americans become unable to adapt after age 50 and should be deleted from advertising before they wreck brand image.
Ad Age on Boomers: time for inclusive change – an edgy Big Idea
After spending years in exile, we are beginning to see occasional iconoclastic discussion about the wisdom of advertising to Boomers.
The latest early adopter voice belongs to Rance Crain, Advertising Age editor-in-chief. His June 1st, 2015 op-ed, Golden Years Represent Golden Opportunities for Marketers, notes how change points in Boomer lives create opportunities to rethink old myths:
“Anytime there are major changes in people’s lives there is an opportunity for advertisers to gain new customers, regardless of what age the new customers are.
Why is that elemental fact so hard for advertisers to grasp?”
It’s a fair question – one we hope will embolden Ford to re-tool its PR message for the slick 2015 Edge. Despite knowing that over half of all new Fords are bought by people age 50-plus, the company studiously ignored them in its Edge announcement blurb:
“Demographically, the Edge buyer is a mixed bag … people in their 30s and 40s looking for family needs; people downsizing out of larger SUVs who don’t require that third row; and people moving out of sedans, looking for a lifestyle utility vehicle” (HT: Karl Greenberg, MediaPost).
Well, who could all those the “people” switching from large SUVs and sedans be? Why sure, Americans in the 50+ space – the “people” who buy twice as many new cars as Germany but can’t get a mention in ads or PR brags.
It’s time for Ford and its competitors to be really inclusive and speak the name of They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named … Americans over 50!
Dealing with They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
Despite encouragement from Ad Age, even the most daring adland Harry Potters and Hermione Grangers fear engaging “older” Americans. When we Voldemorts/Boomers return from the darkness, they won’t know what to say to us or how to say it.
Still, engagement is worth the effort. Baby Boomers and their siblings born 1940-1945, the Boomer-Plus Generation™, numbers 93 million, controls over 70% of U.S. household net worth and represents the world’s 3rd most powerful economy.
So, marketing Millennials, it’s time you also embraced change: our friendly wizards are ready to help.