May 09, 2013

Meryl Streep Wants To Be a Barista

One of the enduring absurdities of the marketing and advertising industries is the old wives' tale that "people over 50 want to be like young people."

Ask any brain-dead CMO of a car company why the people who inhabit his commercials are all young, when 18-24 year-olds buy 1% of all new cars, and you'll get some version of that idiocy.

It's what passes for "strategic thinking" in the Golden Age of Marketing Brilliance.

Yeah, I was having coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, Meryl Streep and Barack Obama the other day and they were telling me how much they aspire to be like the morons in Taco Bell and Coors Light commercials.

I'm going to take this very slowly because I know it is difficult for marketing managers and creative directors to draw distinctions. Ready? Older people want to feel youthful. They do not like to feel old. comes the hard part so put on your thinking caps...they do not want to be like young people. Please read that again. It is an important distinction. They don't like to feel old, but they also don't want to be like you. Capeesh?

The youth culture of yesteryear, that you're all so desperate to hang on to, is gone. Kaput. Aloha. Fuhgeddaboutit. It's over. Are people 18-49 still important to marketers? Of course they are. But they are no longer the beast. The beast is over 50.

The youth bulge is gone. They've grown up. They still have all the money. They still buy more of everything. They still spend more than anyone. But they're over 50. And mostly, they hate your culture. They hate your imagery. They hate most of what you think is cool or hip. In fact, according to The New York Times, the "generation gap" is larger than it's been in 50 years.

I'm sorry to tell you this, but your idea that "old people want to be like young people" is just plain old narcissism. Your obsession with pandering to 18-34 year-olds is decades out of date and is simply a reflection of the high regard that young people in the marketing and advertising industries have always had for themselves.

It is your excuse for not taking the time or having the interest to learn what people over 50 -- who control about 75% of the financial assets, buy 60% of the new cars, and purchase 55% of consumer packaged goods -- are about.

You need to learn how to talk to people over 50. It's that simple.

You can start by making me a double latte. Low foam, please.


Shirley Maya Tan said...

An article after my own heart! While they are making you the double latte with low foam, please hit me up with a mochacino :)

Rob Blackie said...

This is also why marketing campaigns are obsessed by the latest cutting edge technologies rather than by what people use.

My granny, aged 93, is an avid iPad user - who uses email, Facebook and iPlayer. Yet nobody seems to be interested in marketing to her - she gets the same rubbish as everyone else.

Keith Marshall said...

In Canada we have a media mogul (Moses Znaimer) who did very well by giving the baby boomers what they wanted, when they wanted it. He started with Much Music (like MTV) in the early 80's and now he's got Zoomer Media and CARP - an advocacy group for seniors.

Jeffrey Summers said...

Great point...context, context, context!

Jeff Kwiatek said...


Isn't there also an issue with the way media is measured. Advertisers are interested in hitting those "key demos" so much that they completely ignore the customers you're talking about. I agree that the creative needs to try harder, but I think the issue is much broader and more entrenched than the work that's being produced.


From a family of 6 bab boomers and a kid in this media biz for a quarter of a century I continue to be a big fan and love the simple and powerful story

Anonymous said...

I all the time used to study post in news papers but now as
I am a user of internet therefore from now I am using net
for content, thanks to web.

Here is my webpage -

Anonymous said...

Hi, for all time i used to check webpage posts here early in the morning, because i enjoy to gain knowledge of
more and more.

Stop by my web-site:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finally talking about > "Meryl Streep Wants To Be a Barista" < Loved it!

Here is my homepage acoustic guitar chord

Chris S. said...

Bob, do you think this is related to the pernicious ad concept that all guys are in their 20s, do incredibly stupid things, are inept, comedically obsessive, and date women who look 100 times better than they do?

Advertising's connection to reality, shaky though it may be, is often unnecessary (at least, apparently). And while I wholeheartedly agree that most marketers are fishing in a small pond, I hardly think age is the only facet for which the complete wrong approach is being used. What do you think?

Deborah Fisher said...

Bob, you are a man after my own heart. Working in an agency where the average age (even with my skew) is 24 it's sometimes rough. I agree with @Shanghai61 that it is nearly impossible to see yourself older, and therefore, the gap widens. PS. I NEVER thought I would look as old as I do.

Anonymous said...

You could certainly ѕee your sκills in the
article you ωritе. The world hopes for mοre
passionate writers such as you who are nοt afraiԁ to say
how theу belieѵe. All the time go after your heart.

my blog post ::

Anonymous said...

This combination can an excellent constipation remedy.

Many insurance vendors offer supplemental insurance quotes for Medicare.

My blog post - gsa search engine ranker

Anonymous said...

Stove: For electric burners, wipe off when they are cold.

He is probably an experienced and additionally skilled roofer who has acquired

my web page ...

Chuck_Nyren said...

From my book (c) 2005:

Contrary to popular myth, Baby Boomers do not believe that they are still teenagers or young adults. (Some probably do, but they need therapy.) Boomers are slyly redefining what it means to be the ages they are. Included in this new definition are some youthful attitudes - but the real change is that instead of winding down, many are winding up....

... Reaching Baby Boomers has more to do with sensibility when fashioning ad campaigns and less to do with simply defining cohorts and targeting them. Hire Baby Boomers to be the creative directors, copywriters, art directors, and graphic designers - and guess what - Baby Boomers will respond to intelligent advertising.

John Romano said...

I always hear the objection that older audiences are set in their brand preferences and that chasing the 50+ set is therefor a waste of time. It seems like it's the only possible reason to not spend more on this audience. I don't see this personally, but do you have any research about the flexibility of the buying habits of the 50+ audience?

John Romano said...

Great article on Boomer buying power and habits: