January 31, 2013

Marketing's Oldest Old Wives' Tale

There a few themes that keep popping up in this blog. They are:
1. Misconceptions about "branding" and how brands are built
2. The folly of listening to "marketing experts"
3. The over-promise of online advertising
4. The over-promise of social media
5. The "death of advertising," "death of TV," and "death of marketing" nonsense
6. The chronic, silly belief in "the thing that will change everything"
7. The foolishness of marketers' obsession with young people
Over the past few weeks I've written a number of posts about #7. But I haven't really dealt with the main thesis that drives marketers to focus on young people when every trend in demographics and economics points to people over 50 as the drivers of consumer spending.

In case you haven't been paying attention, here are the key facts:
  • Over 70% of the wealth in the U.S. is controlled by people over 50.
  • Half of all consumer spending is done by people over 50.
  • People over 50 have an average net worth 3 times that of younger generations
  • They account for 55% of consumer packaged goods sales and dominate 94% of CPG categories
  • Baby boomers spend an average of $650/month on technology, more than either Gen X or Gen Y
  • Younger boomers outspend younger adults in every major category
  • Baby boomers are the Internet’s largest constituency
  • Between now and 2030, the population over 50 will grow at about three times the rate of people 18-49  
  • They buy over 60% of all new cars
  • They are the target for 5% of all advertising.
So the question is, if people over 50 are so economically dominant, how can it be that, as Forbes says, they are "the most neglected wealthy people in the history of marketing."

There are a number of reasons. In a recent post entitled The Invincible Blindness Of  Advertisers, I mentioned a few of the fictitious beliefs that drive this, including:
  • People over 50 are already too brand loyal to convert
  • People over 50 are too price-conscious
  • People over 50 don't spend much
  • There is a "lifetime value" in targeting young people
It's all nonsense. But perhaps the largest delusion about people over 50 is that they want to be like young people.

Do they want to feel young? Yes. Do they want to be like young people? No. This is a distinction that seems to be completely lost on marketers.

The baby boom is Barack Obama and Tom Hanks. It is Bruce Springsteen and Condoleezza Rice and Yo-Yo Ma and Steve Jobs. It’s Stephen Spielberg and Magic Johnson and Jonathan Franzen and Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Seinfeld.

The idea that these people and their contemporaries want to be like a 25-year old barista or a doofus college frat boy is absurd. The belief that they aspire to be like the knuckleheads who inhabit Bud Light, or Taco Bell, or KFC ads is beyond ridiculous.

The marketing industry does not understand this. They think of baby boomers as grandma and grandpa. They are not. They invented the personal computer. They grew up listening to the Rolling Stones and smoking weed. They didn’t invent sex, but they invented the sexual revolution.

And yet, the idea that people over 50 want to be like young people is the hopelessly out-of-date fiction that the advertising and marketing industry clings to while they waste hundreds of millions of dollars pandering to people who don't and won't buy their products.

January 30, 2013

Apple, Jobs, and Creativity

A week after Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple, but before his sad death, I wrote the following about the media reaction to his leaving...
"The consensus seemed to be that Jobs built a strong culture, hired smart people, and taught a way of thinking that will serve Apple well in the future. The story line went like this-- while Jobs will be missed, he is no longer essential to the future of the company and it will go on brilliantly without him.
I don't buy this for a second. Genius is non-transferable."
Eighteen months later, the strength of Apple as a consumer products juggernaut is being called into question. Although their sales are still astronomical, their growth has slowed and their stock price has dropped substantially -- about 1/3 in the last 4 months. They are no longer the world's most valuable company.

In the months since Jobs' death, Apple has done very little to reassure us that it is still the same company that startled us with beautiful, imaginative products. This came to mind the other day when I saw a tweet from the great Dave Trott quoting Bill Bernbach:
"It may well be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we're legally allowed to take over our competitors."
Apple has clearly not shown the same type of creativity in the past 18 months that it did in previous years.

As I said at the time...
"...one of the first indications of whether Apple is capable of continuing its explosion of creative energy without Jobs at the helm may be found in its advertising."
Advertising did turn out to be the first indicator. Luckluster ad efforts for "Siri" and a campaign featuring a "Genius" did not live up to the high standards of intelligent, thoughtful advertising Apple had established.

But more important, there have been no significant product breakthroughs. We had gotten used to Apple amazing us with new products and features every six months. But in the past 18 months all we've seen from them is incrementalism -- smaller iPads, larger iPhones. Just the kind of stuff we're used to seeing from the followers in the industry, not the leader.

Meanwhile Samsung has grabbed the cool factor from them with products, features and advertising that are very attractive to young people (yes, there are categories in which it pays to target young people.)

I am not ready to be worried about Apple. I expect they will be back before long with a breakthrough idea or two.

But as Bernbach said, the future is about one thing -- Apple has to demonstrate that they can be as creative without Steve Jobs as they were with him.

So far, they haven't.

January 29, 2013

Marketing The Marketing: The Social Media Backfire

The Super Bowl is a made-for-tv event.

Last year, over 110 million people watched it on television. The only reason it is such a big deal in other media is that it is so big on television.

In their infinite greed, marketers are trying to wring every last penny out of their almost-$4-million investment in a Super Bowl spot.

To do so, they have employed a questionable tactic -- marketing the marketing. They release their spots on line early, and they promote their spots with teasers.

For the most part, this tactic has been a mess.

First, they have taken a substantial bite out of the surprise and novelty that Super Bowl advertising used to generate.

Next, their "teasers" are usually wasteful nonsense that could be better spent promoting the product rather than the marketing.

Third, they open themselves up for criticism and ridicule before the spot even has a chance to air. So far this year, at least 3 major advertisers have been pummeled on social media about spots that haven't even run yet.

To understand some of the foolishness behind this questionable tactic, listen to this doubletalk from a big shot at Taco Bell about their hideous spot...
"By releasing "Viva Young" online before the Super Bowl, we're rewarding our biggest fans and bringing them inside the brand," added (Taco Bell's) chief marketing and innovation officer... "We want to share the spot with our Team Members, franchisees and online fans first so they're in the know before Super Bowl Sunday, so we can engage with them in social and digital spaces."
Instead of worrying about "engaging in social and digital spaces" with your imaginary "biggest fans" how about making an intelligent spot for the other 110 million of us?

January 28, 2013

Pimping For Dollars

Once a quarter I have to face my responsibility as an ad hack and try to sell you something. It's the law.

It has come to my attention that there are people out there who read this blog on a regular basis and have not contributed a damn thing to the Old-And-In-The-Way Copywriters Benevolent Society.

So today we're having a pledge drive. Your job is to buy my book 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising.

In order to convince you to do so, let me say that when I went to bed last night it was #3 on Amazon's hit parade of advertising paperbacks. This means that of the 12 people in the world who read books about advertising, maybe 4 of them bought it. Can you imagine my pride?

I will also let two recent Amazon reviews from people who aren't even close family members serve as proof points for the wisdom of making this meager purchase.

Here we go (to see these reviews more clearly, click on them):

Now all you have to do is go here and order it and, in addition to the book, you will receive a lifetime of erudition and a couple of chuckles.

I, on the other hand, will receive whatever spare change is left over after Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service bend me over and screw me out of any reasonable proceeds from my arduous labor.

January 24, 2013

The Stupidity Epidemic

Earlier this week I wrote about teaser ads and why I hate them. As an example, I used a new Mercedes-Benz teaser campaign.

But there's a lot more wrong with Mercedes' strategy than just tossing money away on teasers. According to an article appearing this week in Marketing Daily, their new campaign...
"...is clearly intended for a younger, if daring driver -- one who wants entrance to the premium segment...
'The CLA lets us open Mercedes-Benz to a totally new audience,' says (their VP Marketing) 'It's our new gateway car; it's a very seductive design, very sporty and aggressive, and it's for a younger audience...'
He adds that the automaker is reaching out to 30- to-40-year-olds..."
We've all read a version of this same blather every year forever. Every car manufacturer, every year, introduces some new products and makes a big hoo-ha about how their new models are more youthful and more aimed at attracting a younger buyer.

The question is this: Why?

Why in the world would any sane car manufacturer want to aim his product at young people?

Let me give you the facts and then maybe you can explain it to me.
  • People 18-24 bought 1% of all new cars in 2011
  • People 24-35 bought 10% of all new cars in 2011 -- down 1/3 from 2007
  • People 45-74 bought 62% of all new cars in 2011
  • People 65-74 bought 30% more new cars than people 25-34
  • The average age of a new car buyer has risen 3 years in the last 4 years
  • Someone over 45 is twice as likely to buy a new car as someone under 45
  • Between now and 2030, the 50+ age segment will grow at 3 times the rate of the 18-49 segment
Please explain to me why in the f**king world any auto manufacturer who can read and count would be targeting young people?

Every ounce of demographic, economic and social information points to the fact that the key to success in the auto business is attracting the older buyer, and that the road to ruin is targeting the younger buyer.

And yet the knee-jerk, out-of-date, pointless strategy of pandering to young people -- invented in the 1960's and completely irrelevant today -- continues at full speed.

As hard as I try, I have a difficult time exaggerating the alarming stupidity of the marketing profession.

The automotive data in this post come from RL Polk & Co.
The demographic data come from a study called "Introducing Boomers, Marketers Most Valuable Generation" by The Nielsen Company.

When I wrote this blog post I was only aware of this teaser spot Mercedes-Benz had done for its CLA. I had not seen this piece of unspeakable nonsense. Drooling frat boys -- yeah, yeah, that's who buys Mercedes.

January 23, 2013

Is "The Like's" 15 Minutes Up?

The half-life of online marketing miracles is notoriously short.

Is it possible that "the like" is about to join the podcast, the widget, and the QR code in the Museum Of Make-Believe Marketing Miracles?

It sure seems that way. There has been a whole lot of chatter lately about the dubious value of likes. While this chatter is about 2 years overdue, I guess it's better than never.

First, Business Insider had a piece recently about Facebook's new Giraffe Search. It was called, "Graph Search Is Really A Plan To Rescue The Like."

They said that Facebook introduced Giraffe Search because "recently it (the like) has fallen out of favor with advertisers." 

Next a blogger, engineer, and entrepreneur named Steve Cheney called the like a "con." He went on to say that in the case of almost half the Facebook likes "there is no true affinity between the like and the object" and, in fact, most likes were bought by bribes.
"For the past several years big advertisers on FB have actually been directing massive amounts of paid media to acquire fans. They quite literally bought likes."
And now Adweek, in an article entitled "Social to Play Second String on Game Day" tells us that the magic of social media is not quite as magical as it once was on Super Bowl Sunday. Regarding Facebook and Twitter they say "there is a growing debate over their true value and effectiveness." Gosh, whodathunkit?

Adweek goes on to quote some Super Bowl advertisers. The CMO of GoDaddy (god help us) says that ... "at the end of the day, I am going to look at the traffic coming into our site and how that’s affecting sales” rather than any social metric like 'likes.'

The chief media bigshot at Universal McCann said...
"How many Facebook ‘likes’ a brand gets is just the tip of the iceberg... You can actually tie on-site data to test drives and sales, and that is what (automotive) clients really care about.” 
I'm not really sure what the hell he's talking about, other than that likes are pretty worthless.

This is quite a turn around from recent years in which advertisers judged their Super Bowl savvy by the oh-so-sophisticated method of counting tweets and likes -- in the demented belief that these gimmicks meant something.

Of course, there are always knuckleheads who just don't get it and never will. And guess who's grand marshall of the Super Bowl knucklehead parade? You got it -- Pepsi.

Just a few years ago, Pepsi was the darling of the new age marketing gurus for pulling all their money out of the Super Bowl and putting it into social media. That proved to be historically, massively stupid.

Now (just as someone you love predicted) they are going back to their old game plan -- pop stars. And like the typical marketer that's completely lost at sea, they're doubling down on what they recently scorned -- the Super Bowl. Not only are they buying spots, they are sponsoring the half-time show with Beyonce and paying her $50 million. As Jonathon Salem Baskin says in Forbes...
"There will be other explanations for why sales and profits continue to slide, even as Beyonce garners zillions of likes and song downloads."
But nothing can stop the marketing train wreck that is Pepsi. They are so confused that even as they spend recklessly on the Super Bowl they still don't understand that it is a made-for-tv event and the only important thing is having great spots.

Here's what their Chief Worldwide Digital Global Jargonator had to say:
"There’s a lot of tricks to winning the social media buzz wars...but being a part of the culture in a way that extends brand equity is the effect we want to see.”
Hmmm...seems to me I've heard this social-media-brand-equity-culture-buzz bullshit somewhere before...oh, yeah...the Pepsi Refresh Project...

How'd that work for you?

January 22, 2013

Super Bowl Teasers

I hate "teaser" spots.

Delusional advertisers think their teaser spots are going to "intrigue" consumers. Meanwhile consumers are too busy guzzling beer and scratching their ass to give a damn about the great intrigue.

If you have something important to say, say it. Why waste money telling me that you're going to say it at a later date? Why not tell me now?

It's bad enough if you're teasing a product or an event. But why tease another spot? What could be more wasteful than running a spot telling me you're going to run another spot?

It reminds me of web idiots running ads whose only purpose is to get me to go to their website. How many people who see a spot do they think are going to go to their website? One in a hundred? So why not deliver the message in the spot? Why trade dollars for pennies?

Well, anyway...

I was watching football this weekend (I am not going to say anything about the possibility of San Francisco winning both the World Series and the Super Bowl this year. I'm just not that kind of guy. Although, you gotta admit...)

One of the things that caught my eye was the amount of money Mercedes Benz wasted teasing a spot they're going to run in the Super Bowl. You can see the teaser here.

I know the Super Bowl is a different kind of thing -- 364 days a year people do everything possible to avoid advertising. One day a year they actually look forward to it. Why this insane phenomenon exists is way above my pay grade.

So I understand why advertisers want to have a hit on Super Bowl Sunday. But I have seen no evidence that teasing a Super Bowl spot increases its impact. In fact, it probably does nothing other than waste millions of dollars, create unrealistic expectations at the client organization, and produce a big collective yawn among the consuming public.

I guess it's possible that teasing a spot can increase its impact if the the teaser is really good and the ultimate spot is terrific. But if Mercedes' Super Bowl spot is anything like the teaser, I have a feeling they are in for a big disappointment.

The teaser is dark and ominous. Unfortunately, dark and ominous is not what wins Super Bowl popularity polls. What wins in the Super Bowl is silly and uplifting -- kids, and dogs, and talking animals, and slapstick, and Clint Eastwood.

Some creative director's dark vision cut to the grim strains of "Sympathy For The Devil" is not likely to endear itself to the guacamole-impaired viewing public on Super Bowl Sunday.

More about Mercedes' confusion later this week.

January 17, 2013

The Triumph Of Disinformation

In the 3rd quarter of 2012, television continued to dominate video viewing.

According to Nielsen's 3rd quarter 2012 Cross-Platform Report...
  • Video viewing on a television (live plus time-shifted) came to 97% of all video viewing
  • Video viewing online accounted for a little over 2% of video viewing 
  • Mobile video viewing was about half of 1% of total viewing. 
Here's how it breaks down:

One of the fascinating aspects of these numbers is how out of touch many advertising people are with reality. These numbers should not be a surprise to anyone. They have shifted very little in the past few years. But the constant drumbeat of web zealotry has left many in the ad business believing nonsense and propaganda.

Last week I was at an advertising function. I was sitting at a table with a group of young people who worked at agencies. In the course of our discussion I asked these people to estimate how much video viewing was done on a TV and how much was done online. The consensus was that 60% was done online and 40% on TV.

These were not students, these were people who worked at agencies.

I don't blame them for their ignorance. I blame an industry that survives on hype and baloney; that has leaders who don't lead; that refuses to re-examine its biases and assumptions.

Several years ago when the web was shiny and new, and television was "dying," those of us who were prudent and judicious, and refused to be stampeded into wasting our clients' money chasing digital rainbows, were accused of being slow to adapt to the "new realities." We learned how to adapt all right -- not to any new realities, but to the drumbeat of criticism.

Now that the hysteria of the false prophets has turned out to be substantially misguided, the ad industry is still confused about what is going on around it.

And A Little Poetry...
There was a young fellow named Lance
Who became a big hero in France
He did himself harm
Having junk in his arm 
But not quite enough in his pants

January 16, 2013

Giraffe Search

Oops, I mean "graph search."

Have you ever heard a stupider name for a product? It's the name Facebook announced for its new search function yesterday.

I know, social media weenies like to call your network of linked friends your "social graph." But who the hell knows that except geekazoid maniacs?

So giraffe search is supposed to make Facebook more money by competing with Google. Not sure I buy it.

Google is nice and clean. You buy a word and there you are, right at the top of the page. No muss, no fuss.

Giraffe search, if I understand it properly (which is highly unlikely) is not nearly so clean.

According to Business Insider, the idea behind giraffe search is to reinvigorate the "like" function on Facebook. I think the logic goes like this:

You search for pizza places in Oakland. Giraffe search scours your Facebook friends and finds pizza places in Oakland that they have "liked." The search results reflect the number of likes that pizza places in Oakland have compiled from your friends.

In order to show up as a search result, some of your friends first have to have "liked" something. So if you're a marketer there is no direct way to improve your chances of appearing in a search result. You have to somehow get more people to "like" you, in the hope that if they do you will show up in more giraffe search results.

It sounds a little too complicated and a little too indirect for my simple mind.

It may convince some gullible suckers to increase their spending with Facebook in order to up their "likes." But I have a feeling "likes" 15 minutes are about up.

In the meantime, we'll keep an eye on giraffe search for you.

January 14, 2013

The Next Online Miracle

You ready for the new online advertising miracle?

The digital advertising hype-cycle is growing shorter all the time. Apparently the online lemmingocracy has grown tired of "content" as the digital magic of the hour. Now it's all about "native advertising."

What is native advertising? Well, according to Solve Media...
"Native advertising refers to a specific mode of monetization that aims to augment user experience by providing value through relevant content delivered in-stream."
Oh. Okay.

Now let's pretend for a minute that we live on the planet Earth and we talk in a language that is comprehensible. Here's what that bullshit means:
Native advertising is advertising that is pretending to be something else.
It's Promoted Tweets on Twitter, and Sponsored Stories on Facebook, and any other kind of online advertising that the publisher is disguising as part of a story or part of their content.

Desperate magazine publishers used to do stuff like this. If you bought a large enough ad schedule they'd sneak some positive mentions of your product into their editorial pages. It wasn't called native advertising. It was called unscrupulous bullshit. And you didn't have to pay for it.

So here's what is really going on. We are at the beginning of Stage 3 of digital delusional thinking.

Stage 1 started when we believed that online advertising would be more engaging and effective because people would "interact" with it. This delusion crumbled when we found that people had no interest whatsoever in interacting with display advertising.

In order to cover our tracks, we needed a new story. So Stage 2 was developed. We decided that online advertising was really a "social" activity. We proclaimed that consumers wanted to have "conversations" about brands with each other and with us. This delusion died the day Facebook went public.

Now we are in Stage 3. Once again, we need to cover our tracks. We need to have a new story to tell our clients and change the subject from why we wasted their money on social media marketing.

Stage 3 started with "content." But now that content is being exposed as just another over-hyped online daydream, "native advertising" is evolving. And what is it? It is really just advertising disguised as content.

Does this stuff work? Adweek doesn't seem to think so. In a story they published a while back...
"...a new survey...asked online adults what they thought about three native ad formats—Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, Sponsored Stories on Facebook and video ads that appear to be content. 

According to the survey, a majority found the ads negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised.

People had the strongest reaction to sponsored video ads, with 85 percent saying they negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand. Sixty-two percent said the same of Promoted Tweets and 72 percent of Sponsored Stories.

The survey also revealed that 45 percent found Promoted Tweets misleading, while 57 percent and 86 percent said the same about Sponsored Stories and video ads, respectively."
Of course, the data in this study is all self-reported, so the study itself is pretty much useless. But it's an indication that "native advertising" is gaining traction as the new miracle du jour.

So get ready for a blizzard of bullshit about the magic of native advertising. And be prepared for every client bandwagoneer to insist that his advertising plan includes native advertising. Remember one of The Ad Contrarian's timeless axioms... there's no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he's missing a trend.

January 10, 2013

Pepsi Selling Its Soul

One of the great things about the marketing world is that if things get really bad, if everything is caving in around you, if your whole world is crumbling and you desperately need a laugh, you can always Google "Pepsi marketing" and have yourself a hearty chuckle.

Just spend a few minutes rooting around in their amazing alternate universe and you're sure to find a treasure trove of fun, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Here at Ad Contrarian Labs, we have been chronicling the wonderfully entertaining, yet seriously preposterous, goings-on at Pepsi for years. And every time we think it can't get any more silly, we are proven wrong.

 As we predicted years ago...
"PepsiCo's soda business is in the midst of an epic, historic collapse."
...said Business Insider a few weeks ago. They went on to report...
"In Q3 2012, volume at its American division declined 3%, driven by a 4% decline in North America. There was a 7% revenue decline to $5.5 billion. In March 2011, Pepsi was humbled as Diet Coke became the nation's No.2 favorite drink behind Coke, and Pepsi slipped to No.3. Diet Pepsi is only the 7th most-drunk soda in the U.S."
Gosh. Whodathunkit?

But don't worry. In an article that appeared recently, they seem to have a whole new vocabulary of knucklehead double-talk (Pepsi leads the league in that category) that is sure to save them. This comes from the Pepsi Global Beverage Group Foresight Director. Yes, they actually have someone with that title. The more dreadful their business gets, the more ridiculously pompous their titles get.

I wonder how the Global Beverage Group Foresight Director gets along with the President-Global Enjoyment and the Global Chief Marketing Officer-Hydration. I'm starting to believe the most creative employee in the company is the HR person who comes up with these breathtaking titles.

As an aside, I think I have a good strategy for bringing Pepsi's beverage business back to life. Fire all the overfed worldwide globalizers and hire an Ad Manager who'll let the agency make some decent fucking ads.

But I digress...

The Global Beverage Group Foresight Director thinks he has the solution to Pepsi's problems. He says...
"There's a growing realisation that ... innovation has to come out of the brand soul."
Apparently, in the ever more ludicrous lexicon of brand babble, brands no longer have "DNA", now they have "soul."

It seems that innovation has not been coming out of Pepsi's "brand soul." It's been coming out of the elevator, or the janitor's closet or something. Now they are searching for the brand's soul and -- pop -- out will come the innovations. Sounds like fun.

I wonder how much some brilliant branding consultant is going to charge them to find the brand's soul? Personally, I wouldn't do it for less than 2 million.

The Foreskin Foresight Director also thinks it's important
"...that people running a brand share a "sense of being" with its buyers"
As a sometime Pepsi buyer, it is very clear to me that the people running the brand and I do not share a sense of being. I'm not even sure I have a sense of being anymore. I think I lost it. Maybe Pepsi can give it back to me. Sometimes at about 3 a.m. I have a sense of peeing. But I don't think that's what they mean.

The Foreplay Foresight Director wants the people who run the brand and me to...  
"... form "one big force" sharing the same goal..."
Gosh, imagine if I shared a goal with a soda brand team. What an awesome life it would be. We'd be "one big force."

The Pepsi brand team and little ol' me. My friend, it's a carbonated dream come true.

January 07, 2013

The Invincible Blindness Of Advertisers

Sometimes it is hard to overstate the cluelessness of the advertising and marketing industries.

We are exquisitely sensitive to every little gimmick or fad that pops up, and completely oblivious to dramatic, powerful change when it occurs.

The largest consuming group in the history of the world is moving into new territory and marketers are paying no attention. This change is vastly more important to business than mobile strategies or social media or content creation, or any of the other bonehead sideshows we are obsessed with.

The youngest members of the baby boom generation, the generation that changed marketing and essentially invented consumerism, are now turning 50. The oldest members are now over 65. These people are the financial powerhouse that drives our economy.

They control over 75% of the nation's wealth. They account for 50% of all consumer spending. They buy 62% of all new cars. They dominate 94% of all CPG categories. They are the target for 5% of all advertising!

Between now and 2030, while the drooled-over 18-49 segment is expected to grow 12%, the 50+ segment will grow at 3 times that rate.

Nielsen saysBoomers are the most valuable generation in the history of marketing." Yet the marketing industry essentially ignores them.

When it deigns to talk to them, it treats them as if they are a bundle of maladies that need remediation.

How can this be? The answer is simple. Marketing "leaders" are mostly mediocre lemmings who live on the fumes of fads and on leftover legends.

80% of all workers in the professional and business services sector are under 55. They are completely out of touch with the reality of who the consuming public is. They cannot see beyond their own noses and their own narcissistic vision of who buys things and why.

These people are frantically pissing away money and resources developing mobile Facebook apps for the .1% of the population who might ever use them and completely ignoring the people who actually buy the things they sell.

They operate under a set of fictitious beliefs about people over 50.
  • That they are more (or less) brand loyal than younger consumers. Nonsense.
  • That they are more price-conscious than younger consumers. Also nonsense.
  • That they spend less money than younger people. Major nonsense.
But of all the delusions that are summoned forth to justify their out-of-date, ossified addiction to youth, perhaps the most pervasive and ridiculous is the idea of "lifetime value." Or, as the legend goes, if you get 'em young you'll have 'em for life.

Every time someone with a functioning brain points out that people over 50 are a way better target for most advertisers, some knucklehead drags out a variant of the "lifetime value" fairy tale. Last week, the stupidity of this argument was exposed in a study published by the journal Science.

According to The New York Times a team of psychologists released a study which discredited what they call "the end of history illusion" i.e., the illusion that things will remain as they currently are and we will stay like we are now.  
"..when asked to predict what their personalities and tastes would be like in 10 years, people of all ages consistently played down the potential changes ahead... People seemed to be much better at recalling their former selves than at imagining how much they would change in the future."  
Why? According to one of the authors of the study we simply do not realize "how transient our preferences and values are..." 

The "end of history illusion" is the intellectual fallacy behind the "lifetime value" fantasy.

The idea that someone who is 20 today will be wearing the same clothes, driving the same car, drinking the same beverages, shopping in the same stores in 20 years is absurd. Yet this is the rationale marketers use to justify the vacuous strategy of chasing young people and ignoring the people who have and spend most of the money. 

The marketing and advertising industries have feasted on the 18-49 group for several decades. What they do not yet comprehend is that the people who made the 18-49 group so valuable have left the building. 

That game is over. A new game has begun. And today's dopey marketers are too busy admiring their "likes" to notice it.

In Other News... 
I'll be speaking this Tuesday to the AAF/Ad Club in Reno, NV. The talk is themed "The Golden Age Of Bullshit." If you're in the area, please stop by and applaud.