October 3, 2011
The Wrong Demo
Bill’s family bopped in for the afternoon last Wednesday. His 93-year Dad, Bill Sr., and his sister Peg, who is 68, drove in from the Pittsburgh area. His brother Jack, who just celebrated his 70th, came from his summer home in Bethesda in southeastern Ohio, near the hot spots of St. Clairsville, Barnesville, and Shadyside. He brought Carol, his BFF and a Moon Township PA high school classmate of Bill’s. Bill is 72. At 64, I was the youngest of the bunch.
Six white haired people at our dining table. A sight never seen before in our house.
At one point during the multiple, cross-table conversations, Jack mentioned that he and Carol are sometimes mystified by today’s television commercials. They don’t understand the point, and sometimes don’t understand what the product is that is being sold. “We’re the wrong demo,” I exclaimed because, yes indeedy, we are consumers who very few advertisers want.
It’s not that there’s too few of us to target. Today, one out of every 9 Americans is old — “another former youth turns 50 every 8 seconds.” Those of us 65 and older now exceed 35 million.
It’s not like we don’t have money. We “silvers” account for 70 percent of the U.S. net worth, controlling $9 trillion. We control 80 percent of the personal financial assets; represent 50 percent of U.S. discretionary spending; and own about 50 percent of all credit cards.
It’s not like we’re not “with it.” Between April 2009 and May 2010, The Pew Research Center and American Life Project reported that “social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled — from 22% to 42%. Forty-seven percent of internet users ages 50-64 and 26% users ages 65 and older now use social networking sites....Internet users ages 50-64 who said they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn grew 88% and those ages 65 and older grew 100% in their adoption of the sites, compared with a growth rate of 13% for those ages 18-29.”
And it’s not like we don’t buy stuff. We have cell phones, computers, tablets, and Kindles. We buy clothes. We eat in restaurants, but the last time I saw a golden ager in a TV spot it was for family-style dining, with a grandparent and a grade-schooler sharing a plate of pasta. As if this was a life-altering moment the kid would remember the rest of his life. We buy cars. Even the Lincoln ads, a car Boomers can well afford, aren’t aimed at us, but at a younger demographic in love with Mad Men. Having lived through that restrictive, misogynist, sexist era while wearing a girdle, I have no love for Roger Sterling.
Honestly, I resent the products that do want me: life insurance; walk-in tubs; sight or hearing enhancing electronics, like the Jitterbug phone; incontinence diapers; and a category called “life alert protection.” You know: I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. And pharmaceuticals.
You can join AARP at the vital age of 50. Yet along with the offerings of chair lifts and medicare supplemental coverage, the latest issue of the AARP Magazine had seven drug ads: Alleve for arthritis; PreserVision eye vitamins; Prolia to strengthen a woman’s bones; stool softener MiraLax; Pradaza for atrial fibrillation; Provenge to fight advanced prostate cancer; and cholesterol-lowering Zetia. I get it, I get it. I’m getting old. You don’t have to hit me over the head with it. And I have tons of interests other than what’s going wrong with my body.
And I’m also the wrong sex. I have been befuddled by the DirectTV NFL Sunday Ticket™ TV spots. Oh, I understand what the commercial wants the viewer to do. But the concept is beyond me, as its target is men, young and middle-aged men. Which, as you have noticed, I am not. So a black man dressed as a fairy zipping around a living room, zapping the TV set with his magic wand? Bill needed to explain to me that the Tinkerbell with shoulder pads and bandanna is Deion Sanders, Pro Hall of Famer nicknamed “Prime Time.” Even with this enlightenment, the spot is goofy to me. I watched “The Hangover.” I even laughed. I am not totally ignorant of male humor, but I am the wrong demo.
I do love the hamsters in the Kia Soul commercials. Of course, I didn’t know that the music is a remake of the song “The Choice Is Yours” by Black Sheep, and a hip hop classic. Nor did I buy the vehicle, although I thought the alien green color rather appealing. The rodents are charming, the lyrics “You can get with this, or you can get with that” are catchy, memorable, and easy to sing along with. Sounds just like something your grandma would say, doesn’t it?
I am certain that the Gen X marketers tasked with reaching the right demographic for Kia would gag if they read the above paragraph, completely appalled that this white-haired woman liked their work. You know what I say to that?
Doo dah dippity