The creativity paradox
Each year at this time Mad Men eyes turn to Cannes, France, where ad agencies vie for the coveted Lion awards for creativity. Checking ADWEEK’s list of likely winners there are some pretty awesome contenders.
We especially like the smart car entry, The Dancing Traffic Light from BBDO Berlin. Full disclosure: our consultants have done work for the smart brand. In fact, we’d say the Boeblingen HQ cafeteria puts on one of the better spreads in client world. Who doesn’t love currywurst?
Creative as the work product is this year – and it is very creative – we couldn’t help noticing a familiar lack of creativity in strategic thinking.
Like much of today’s mainstream brand advertising, ADWEEK’s front-runners are not inclusive of the people who buy – sorry, it’s irresistible – the lion’s share of America’s goods and services. Namely, consumers in the 50+ space; you know, I am Boomer, hear me roar.
Let’s be clear: we’re not dissing the creative teams. They do a fine job of executing the old guard brief that buyers outside the 18-49 demographic [a] no longer switch brand [b] are easy to reach without trying and [c] plant the geezer kiss of death on brand image.
It’s not just the kiss of death for the brand that keeps young creatives in line, there’s career death to worry about too. Re-read Wanted: Millennial Wunderkinder For Boomer Advertising Campaigns: Orphans Preferred and you’ll see why.
What we have here is a paradox: inside-the-box creativity is rewarded but outside-the-box creativity is discouraged.
Out-of-the-box reality check: Americans aged 50-plus control 70-80% of the nation’s personal net worth and are hugely important – even dominant – in most mass market categories. However, Nielsen reports they are only accorded 5% of the national advertising effort.
It’s time to redirect Millennial creativity to the 50-plus market
Hmm … half the market goes virtually uncontested. How can this be?
Well, one constantly hears the Millennial work style is cooperative and sharing, so maybe young brand strategists have colluded to avoid contesting in the 50+ arena. It’s the marketing equivalent of Switzerland – neutral territory where competitors can relax and enjoy fondue together without anyone trying to snatch an extra helping.
And, of course, the stockholders approve the lost profit that results from failing to grab some other brand’s sales while they nap.
However, to the brand disruptives – yes, we know you’re out there – we say it’s okay to be be selfish and increase market share among the 100+ million consumers in America’s 50+ space.
Leave your Care Bears at the door, unleash your Millennial creativity and go disrupt, you rascals!
New creative brief, Job One: engage the “older” consumer
Profiting in the 50+ space requires new ways of thinking – most importantly, dumping the un-adaptability myth. After a lifetime spent embracing societal change and technological progress, the Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965, is actually America’s most adaptable.
In 2015 it numbers 93 million, with four million Gen Xers arriving every year from the 18-49 demographic. As a country, this would be the world’s #3 GDP – a far larger, far more affluent economy than Japan or any EU nation.
But communicating in the 50+ space is not as easy as it seems – Boomer-speak is a unique and highly nuanced language, full of idioms, subtleties, hidden context and unspoken taboos.
Fortunately, our interpreters and expert guides are on call 24/7 to help Millennials avoid embarrassing gaffes and put their creativity to work. Who knows, they may even bag a Cannes Lion next year.