Just a simple contrarian point-of-view to all of the post Super Bowl pundits tongue wagging about what brand was funniest or most outrageous or simply boring in the one program of the year during which the commercials are paid as much attention as the show.
I made the case that a large portion of the Super Bowl audience is over age 50, with twice the discretionary spending power of any other group and yet not one spot was targeted anywhere near them. Unless the person over 50 was pining for their 20s again ... and that's assuming that when in their 20s they were male, with the libido of a jack rabbit and the intellect of a beer keg.
Many comments were positive and thankful; a fair number even added their own 50+ observations, wondering when the marketing world would figure out that 90 million people accounting for over half of all spending in America is a very rich goldmine just waiting to be tapped, which it is.
The shocker was the number of comments that were negative. Many people actually took the time to not just disagree, but to disagree virulently. A few of the more memorable writings go something like this ...
"Baby boomers want everyone to keep kissing their collective butts, but the fact of the matter is you only have another ten to fifteen years of buying power...We gave the 50 plus age bracket Blackberry[s] at work, HA WHAT A JOKE....Does it really require a geezer in an ad for a geezer to buy something?...you're just trying to whine...The baby boomer generation is the most over-served, self-righteous, boo-hoo generation of the last 100 years. Not only has it poisoned the planet...95% of all males over the age of 50 would rather be 35...You are old and will be forgotten soon. And it's about time."
Whoa ... dudes ... what's up? Why the anger? It's just marketing. It's not like I was advocating taking away your Twitter accounts or taxing your Guitar Hero points. Can't we all just get along?
But seriously, folks ... The PEW Center released a study at the end of last year suggesting that the current generation gap is the largest in the almost 50-year history of the study. Even larger than during the Vietnam war era. Today, an astounding 79% of Americans believe that there is a generation gap in the ways young and old think and believe.
And then there's this ...
The average age of an advertising agency creative person is 28. The average age of a media planner is 24. And less than 4% of advertising agency personnel in America is over the age of 50.
I know why all the ads look and sound the way they do. I know why none of them talk to the 50+ audience. A friend of mine offered up this paraphrased quote from the Greek philosopher Xenophanes: "If horses had gods, they would look like horses."
Thirty-five year old creative people are always going to create messages that look like them, sound like them and act like them. Why? Because they're 35.
As marketers begin to realize the huge profit potential in the 50+ segment (and there are signs that some of the smarter ones are starting to do just that), they need to realize something else; Asking their general advertising agencies to create messaging for this group is like asking them to flap their arms and fly.
When can you understand what it's like to be an over 50 consumer? Not one minute, hour or day before your 50th birthday. Creating messaging for the 50+ target is no different than creating it for the Hispanic target, the African American target or the gay target; to do it right and well requires experience being a part of that target.
And before those of you under 50 stress your fingers feverishly typing a comment in the box below about my being ageist in reverse and discriminatory and one-sided and a typical boomer, remember this ... I was 35 once so when I talk about being 35, I speak from experience. Can you say the same?