Monday, April 20, 2009
Last September, Bart Cleveland put up what I thought was a great post on the Ad Age Small Agency Diary. You can read it and all the following comments here.
The title is "Never count out those with gray hair", and as a card-carrying Guy With Gray Hair I thought it was pretty interesting. One paragraph says : "There's been some banter in the industry pubs lately about an uncommonly large number of older professionals being put out to pasture because they just don't get it anymore. "
Here's more: "It has always been true in our industry that the best work comes from those who are not only in tune with the latest cultural practices but also keenly aware of what is over the horizon. In fact, they are shaping future culture by putting this knowledge to use in the marketing of their clients' products. It has always been the case that there are people who are hopelessly out of touch. . . . [but] to suggest that people who are a little older are obsolete as a group is naïve. There are many "senior citizens" in our industry who are moving the industry forward. Chuck Porter, Lee Clow, Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein are examples of leaders who are still plowing new ground by using their considerable experience as a springboard to what's next. "
Well, today's New York Times has an interesting piece titled "An older audience is looking better than ever before."
" . . . as the recession grinds on, writes Stuart Elliott, [there is] an increasing interest in marketing goods and services to consumers age 50 and older. Among those aiming more at the older demographic are giants like Chrysler, Kraft Foods, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and Target.
"For decades, older consumers were largely shunned by marketers because they were deemed less wealthy, less likely to try new products and less willing to change brands. Campaigns directed at them were described dismissively as made for the “Geritol generation.” As much as older consumers were to be shunned, young consumers — ages 18 to 34, or 18 to 49 — were desired for what were deemed their free-spending ways, eagerness to sample new products and brand-switching proclivities."
Well, that's changing. For one reason, older consumers who may have paid off mortgages seem a safer bet than younger ones who may get laid off in last-hired, first-fired downsizings. Also, there is a demographic change. The first boomers are turning 63 this year, and the youngest are turning 45.
Also, Brian Gordon of ebeanstalk.com says that older consumers are the most demanding customers -- but also more willing than their younger counterparts to pay full price.
There's more, and both pieces are interesting reading.
I especially liked this one comment in Ad Age that I thought was probably partly in jest: "Let them (the younger people) work on xbox or iphone. Sugar cereals, toys or condoms. But what about industries like life insurance, pharmaceuticals, luxury goods, real estate, cruises, luxury automobiles, investments, travel destinations, parenthood or responsible causes. Are you gonna tell me some VCU graduate is better prepared to work on those assignments. Maybe. I think not. Mother started in London as some 50-something guys thinking they still had what it took to create great work. They have proved age is relative."
I guess my point is, perhaps there is a good reason to keep some of those old farts around the agency. This is not an us-old-folks-versus-young-bucks thing, but rather a it-takes-all-kinds comment.
(Of course what REALLY struck me was the $205 parking fine in in the picture above.)