Ad Age On Boomers: Time For Inclusive Change

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange changes

Boomers are experts at handling ch-ch-ch-changes. We’ve had so much practice.

Like in 1972, when our moms and dads rolled their eyes at our shiny new Toyota Corollas, Datsun 510s and Honda 600s. U.S. brands won 85% of new car sales that year – Fords and Chevys were so hip that even Californians drove them.

Datsun USA 1972Man, we early adopters knew we were far out. We were even cool with the name change from Datsun to Nissan.

Now that took some doing – especially since, for months, the company displayed Datsun on one side of its Los Angeles HQ building and Nissan on the other.

And there was that digital revolution thing. Those Boomer kids, Jobs, Wozniak, Allen and Gates sure shook things up back when outfits like IBM, Fairchild Camera and Instrument, and National Semiconductor ruled coast to coast.

Texas Instruments_Home Computer 1983Early adopter Boomers spent the 1980s figuring out home computers – oops, personal computers. We had to learn the name change too.

And we proudly 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, go into advertising, and treat us Boomers as if we haven’t progressed beyond the art of making fire?

Actually, it’s not their fault. They inherited the old dogma that Americans become unable to adapt or change brands after age 50, and should be erased from advertising faster than email spam from exotic foreigners seeking new friendships.

Ad Age re Boomers: time for inclusive change – an edgy idea

After spending years in the background, we Ageless Marketing advocates now see an increase in serious discussion about advertising to Boomers.

The latest, most influential 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?”

Ford Edge

It’s a fair question – one we hope will embolden Ford to re-tool its PR message for the slick 2015 Edge. Patting itself on the back for its global, diverse ad campaign, the company commented:

“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).

Light duty vehicles 2014 50 plus vs GermanyWe get the 30s/40s reference, but who are the “people” changing over from all those large SUVs and sedans? Why sure, Americans in the 50+ space; you know, the “people” who buy twice as many new cars every year as Germany.

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 the return of They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named 

He who must not be namedDespite the encouragement from Ad Age, even the most disruptive Madison Avenue Harry Potters and Hermione Grangers can find it scary to engage Americans over 50. When we Voldemorts – aka Boomers – return after so many years in darkness, who knows what to say to us or how to say it?

Still, engagement is worth the effort. The Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965, is 93 million strong and controls over 70% of U.S. household net worth. As a country, it would be the world’s 15th most populous – the 15th Nation.

So, Millennials, embrace the change: we Boomers aren’t so bad after you get to know us – if you have friendly wizards to help.

Opportunity_The Right Wizards

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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