Integrated: Highway 61 Re-Revisited
In late 2007, Bob Dylan and his music were back on television. Nope, not a concert special or another lingerie campaign, but in a Cadillac Escalade commercial. In the 1970s, when Cadillac targeted the 40-plus crowd, they used clean-cut, golf club-swinging Arnold Palmer as their pitchman. Arnold wore tennis whites and a navy blazer in one ad. Bob wears a black coat, sunglasses and a cowboy hat.
When Cadillac moved into the SUV market, it seemed that they were turning their backs on their core market of older Americans for a younger audience more interested in bling than horsepower. Now, the older market again has their attention, but selling to Boomers doesn't mean using golf pros, it means using counterculture icons.
Baby Boomers are 78.5 million strong, and advertisers hope that their 1960s idols like Dylan and Dennis Hopper (who leads an integrated marketing campaign for Ameriprise Financial) still resonate with them. Boomers, however, have vastly different lifestyles and needs - some are taking care of their parents, others are taking care of their young children and some, presumably, are doing both.
Boomers, the children of the so-called Greatest Generation, may as well be called the Richest Generation: According to WWD, one-third have at least $100,000 in invested assets. Although they may have money, this group can't always be painted with a single stroke. However, there are significant similarities.
William Strauss, author of several books on American generations including Millennials Rising, said in an interview with WWD: "Boomers are always looking for a symbol and gesture in all they do. When they do something, they're making a statement. It's a cultural declaration. So the more marketers can infuse late-life products with meaning, that's a positive thing."
Harvard University is considering developing programs that appeal directly to the socially responsible inclination of this audience. Rosabeth Moss Kant3r, a Harvard Business School professor and former Harvard Business Review editor, outlined her suggestions for the creation of Advanced Leadership Schools in a 2006 article for the AARP magazine. She believes that when Boomers retire, they'll be interested in new careers focused on service. Break out the patchouli and peace signs: Now that it seems that Boomers will be returning to college, they may also be reverting to the idealism of their youth.
Whether marketing continuing education, products or services, brands looking to reach Boomers should embrace integrated marketing approaches. The research company that may know this market best is Focalyst, a specialty practice within Millward Brown. In a study about Boomers and brand loyalty, Focalyst found that these consumers consult print, online and friends when doing research. TV ads also influence purchase decisions. However, Focalyst also found that this audience is just as likely as younger adults (18-41) to experiment with different brands and research different brands before purchasing.
There are three key lessons to learn when marketing brands to the vast Boomer audience: Firstly, the market is huge, so be wise and look beyond the broad group to identify specific segments within the vast audience. Secondly, within that segment, it would behoove marketers to understand if messages surrounding the social good resonate with their specific audience. If one takes this approach, make sure that it's true to the brand. Finally, when planning a campaign, an integrated approach should be recommended in order to reach all the important consideration points of this audience.
Cadillac's campaign with Bob Dylan is following an integrated playbook. The campaign is a cross-promotion with Dylan's XM radio show, which has featured a Cadillac-themed episode. Print and online ads are scheduled to follow the TV introduction, all of which highlight that XM is a standard feature in new Cadillacs. Who knows why Dylan chose to do these ads? He must have recognized that it was a great opportunity to promote his radio show with big-time ads. He could like Caddies. He may have thought that the ads when posted on YouTube would expand his audience. Maybe he just thought he looked cool in the car.
Jean Brandolini Lamb is a director of brand strategy and engagement in the New York office of The Brand Union (formerly Enterprise IG). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org