Chip Walker is StrawberryFrog's head of strategy in New York. Chip is an expert, with extensive knowledge in the area of Baby Boomers - not as a monolithic group, but as a broad area of study. Baby Boomers, he writes, aren't who you think they are. He recently contributed the following article to the MediaPost.
Boomers: The Middle Frontier by Chip Walker
A new boomer marketing era is here, and it's disrupting our conception of what it means to talk to the "me" generation. That's because today's boomers aren't defined by generation.
We've historically assumed that identity is formed in youth, so we think that if you understand the youth experience, you understand the adult. That's not true anymore. Today's boomers are dramatically more affected by today's events that by past events. What happened at Woodstock simply has limited relevance to what they are facing today.
Marketers tend to make two mistakes in targeting boomers. They either treat them like they are aged versions of their youth, or lump them in as "seniors" with everyone over 45 or 50, failing to understand that midlife is a distinct life stage, unlike youth or old age, with its own rites of passage and turning points.
Today, boomers are defined by a common life stage -- midlife -- that occupies an expanded period from their 40s to late 60s. Their experience of midlife is new because they can expect to live up to 20 years longer than past generations. Most look and act younger than their parents at this age. Think of Tom Cruise, Katie Couric and Oprah, all midlife boomers. Rather than preparing to check out, they are moving on to a second life. If they are lucky, they will reach a life-peak their parents could only have dreamed of and that younger people envy.
They'll also face unprecedented struggles that will keep them out of the rocking chair anytime soon. As they have with all life stages, boomers are pioneering this period. They have no roadmap, no examples to follow. They are looking for help.
An example is that of finding your "true north" -- your purpose and passion in life. StrawberryFrog research has shown that between the ages of 45 and 64, boomers go from saying they want to find their passion to actually feeling they've found it. Midlife-targeted products such as nut snacks that we helped a major food company develop are specifically designed to fuel boomers during this turning point.
In summary, there's a new and better approach to boomer marketing, and it's not generational. It is all about products and branding that are hyper-relevant to their new life stage.
From today's Adweek magazine
Lippert Critiques the Oscar Spots
Hyundai's ad with Yo-Yo Ma and TrueNorth's efforts were highlights
NEW YORK A Depression theme weaved in and out of Sunday's 81st annual Academy Awards broadcast. It worked well for David Rockwell's Art-Deco design for the stage, and for Hugh Jackman's snappy opening number about a downsized opening number.
But no amount of artful design or clever staging will help the Oscar broadcast if Sean Penn's Best Actor acceptance speech comes at a time when everyone's asleep.
The producers vow to do it every year, but they've got to get serious about shaving an hour off the telecast. Otherwise, it's too frustrating to watch, especially if you start early with the pre-game red carpet bloopers, er, presentations. (The show on ABC opened awkwardly with Tim Gunn asking Kate Winslet, "What's most on your mind tonight?" Her answer? "Not tripping." And during a discussion of the recent death of his much beloved dog, Mickey Rourke told an interviewer he'd already had "her tux made" for his pet's big moment with Oscar.) Where do you go from that?
In any event, the ads seemed to match the tone of the evening -- with Slumdog Millionaire winning big and advertisers either recycling old commercials (such as MasterCard's lost doggie) or, in the case of JC Penney, making new ones that focused less on concepts and more on moving merchandise.
Hyundai returned with its extraordinary offer to let buyers return the cars if they lose their jobs. The Korean carmaker also had a message about coming to this country and proving oneself that perfectly fit the Slumdog milieu. A spot with Yo-Yo Ma -- previously hyped for the Super Bowl but never released -- featured beautiful tension between his cello playing and pounding cuts of the racing Genesis, as part of the "edit-your-own" series for the Genesis Coupe.
Zyrtec was also on the money with its offer: "If you don't love it, we'll refund your money." I'm glad they didn't call it the "Zyrtec Challenge." I don't understand what's so challenging about simply buying the product.
Coke offered two disappointing Diet Coke spots -- one with Heidi Klum for women's heart health (Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection), the other featuring Top Chef star Tom Colicchio. Klum poked fun at over-the-top fashion by modeling some doozies, then entering a room where all the women wore red -- which came off a bit too dazzling to seem simple.
The spot with Colicchio criticized over-the-top food, especially "shrimp in nests," which seemed to be a jab at a past show contestant. But alas, the "bad taste" visuals in both cases seemed downright clichéd. Plus, particularly for Chef Tom, the setup led to an unconvincing second half.
"When you start with good taste, you don't need anything else," Colicchio says, as he flicks away a bartender's added dodad and raises a giant glass of Diet Coke. The glass is so oversized that he can barely hold it, never mind imbibe. What I'm not swallowing is the connection between this sophisticated foodie and the diet drink.
The big surprise of the evening sponsor-wise was TrueNorth snacks. They make nut products, or as the awkwardly gerund-ish, not quite funny enough tagline states: "Turning an ordinary nut into an extraordinary snack."
Not surprisingly, previous spots using the phrase "nut snack" were widely parodied on the Internet. Now the company has made a complete image turnaround into the land of change and hope.
The four spots had a very Kashi-ish vibe mixed with an Obama-esque determination to make a difference, which all somehow came off without seeming overly earnest. It turns out that the brand comes out of Frito-Lay. (I think it would do the parent company some good to be more transparent about that fact, and build up its do-gooder cred after all that Doritos bad-boy mayhem. This way, it seems as if they're hiding something, like Gallo Wines and Bartles & Jaymes.)
Consumers were asked to submit their inspirational stories to a TrueNorth Web site. The winner received a $25,000 cash prize and the honor of getting her story directed by Helen Hunt.
But all the spots (from independent agency StrawberryFrog) had a great graphic look, including one featuring the founder of Penny Harvest, a program that helps children gather pennies and donate the money to kids in need. The shot of some kids bathing in a sea of copper -- a tub of the gazillions of collected pennies -- was charming. A second spot talked about a program that greens the South Bronx, a story that begs to be told on camera.
The winning story belongs to ex-cop Lisa Nigro, who founded the Inspiration Cafe, which serves Chicago's homeless just like a restaurant, not a food line, and also helps with job training and placement. Hunt has a good eye, particularly in the portraits of the cafe's patrons.
Indeed, the people profiled seemed to have incredible "Aha!" moments -- to borrow a theme line that Mutual of Omaha debuted. That's a memorable line for the insurance company ("Omahaha," after all.) But those insurance commercials -- for example, one guy decides to become a trainer -- didn't have the payoff that the TrueNorth work offered.
Wow, a nut with a message. That's entertainment for our neo-Depressing times.
This past Thursday, I returned from Mumbai. There, my friends and I discussed many things, one of which was the upcoming Oscars and the chances of Slumdog winning the much coveted Best Picture prize. We debated this topic. On the one hand, my friends in India think the film is off in many respects. That 'Slumdog' doesn't reflect the real Slumdog city: Mumbai. That the city portrayed in the movie is a conventional British point of view of the city, which has so many other sides. Many of which are incredibly progressive and challenge anyone's view of Asia and India in particular.
In today's NY Times, the OpEd written by MATIAS ECHANOVE and RAHUL SRIVASTAVA, expresses this point of view most eloquently.
IT does not take much to galvanize protest against a movie in India, but few thought the word “slumdog” would cause so much anger — especially as hundreds of Bollywood titles translate into much worse slurs. We had to pay attention, though, when friends from Mumbai’s sprawling Dharavi area joined hands with those demonstrating against the Oscar-nominated film “Slumdog Millionaire.” The Indian media widely reported that the outrage was over the word “dog.” But what we heard from Manju Keny, a college student living in Dharavi, was something else. She was upset at the word “slum.” We could not agree more.
But on the other hand, there is also a tremendous anticipation about whether the film will win the best picture prize. India is also caught up in the hype of the movie and the "What if it sweeps all the awards Scott? Can you imagine!" If Slumdog wins then it presents an interesting dilemma, because the film has many Indian actors and production talent. There is tremendous pride associated with success in the arts and the 'win' will potentially erase the negative and ride the film's success.
All of this builds anticipation, increases nail biting, and makes Sunday's Academy Awards a must see. About the time they announce Best Picture, one of our TrueNorth snacks commercials will run just prior (check them out here). We recommend many bags of these delicious snacks to ease the tension.
During the Academy Awards broadcast February 22, hold the popcorn and pass the nuts. Viewers, especially women, will be asked to be inspired by nuts. Yes, nuts.
Frito-Lay, which launched the True North line of nut-based snacks last year to appeal to baby boomers, is the exclusive snack sponsor of the broadcast, commonly known among media buyers and advertisers as “The Super Bowl for Women.” Four ads, each profiling a real person doing something for their community, will run during the broadcast usually filled up with imagery of Hollywood glamour and glitz.
Ads that ran in the second half of last year launching TrueNorth focused on taste and ingredients, and were meant to spark awareness of the new brand and help push the product into store shelves. But the Oscar ads are meant to be the brand’s real coming out as a brand Frito-Lay is pinning high hopes on to make up for plateauing sales for chips.
The TrueNorth line of products consist of three flavors of nut-clusters, three flavors of crisps that are made from nuts as well as mixed whole nuts.
Baby Boomers, say new product analysts and researchers, change their snack habits dramatically after age 35, away from chips and pretzels, and more toward nuts and snacks that seem healthier even if they aren’t markedly so. “Everybody snacks, but the older you get the more you want to be able to justify the snack as healthier,” says independent marketing consultant Dennis Keene. “For an adult, especially a parent, it doesn’t seem right to be eating the same chips and dips as your teenage children.”
Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, has the leading market share in the chip category. But the company has long seen a hole in their business with today’s baby-boomers, aged 44 to 63, especially women. Those customers have increasingly been gravitating to nuts, natural snack brands like Kellogg’s Kashi, and “natural” positioned chip brands like Terra. “Despite the fact that Lays products have a very good healthy ingredient profile, boomers in particular were not associating our products with health and wellness,” says Frito-Lay spokesperson Aurora Gonzalez.
So, the chip giant is going after grown-ups by trying to build some positive earthy buzz around the products during what is typically the biggest TV audience for women.
One ad that breaks Sunday night profiles the founder of Penny Harvest, a program that organizes kids to gather pennies and then share the money with kids who are in need. The program has raised over $7 million so far.
A second TV ad profiles the founder of Sustainable South Bronx, a program that is “greening” the blighted area of New York City with trees, gardens and parks.
A third ad profiles a man who has been erecting extraordinary metal roadside sculptures in his hometown of Regent North Dakota as a means to bring tourist traffic to the economically depressed town.
The fourth ad ties in more directly with the Academy Awards, flagged to viewers as directed by Oscar winning actress Helen Hunt. The ad, “Inspiration Café,” profiles Lisa Nigro, the founder of a restaurant that serves the homeless and provides job training and fellowship to its customers. “After reading thousands of inspiring stories, our team felt that Lisa Nigro’s story exemplifies the purpose of TrueNorth—giving life extraordinary meaning,” says Regan Ebert, vice president and general manager and the executive in charge of launching the new brand.
The ad campaign breaking during the Oscars, which costs Frito-Lay about $1.4 million per ad, carries a risk that such high-mindedness around eating a nutty snack could come off as overly earnest. “Not at all…True North is a special brand about passions, and people have become very passionate about the food they eat and their health,” says Kevin McKeon, partner and executive creative director at StrawberryFrog, the New York ad agency that created the campaign.
Other brands, such as Volvo, have also tried to associate themselves with profiles of people doing inspiring things and making contributions to the community. But it could be that the TrueNorth messages will resonate better amidst a deep economic Recession. “It’s all in the execution with ads of this genre, but associating a brand with positive, hopeful, uplifting stories when so much of the news is awful might well be a better idea than trying to make people laugh for a few seconds,” says consultant Dennis Keene. "the whole mood and execution of the ad, too, looks, like it could have tied into Barack Obama's campaign message, and given his approval ratings that's not a bad thing eiether," says Keene.
Since 2002, salty snack sales have grown almost 42 percent to $15.9 billion last year, according to data from London-based market research company Mintel International Group Ltd. Of that, healthy snacks are about $6 billion and the fastest growing segment. Those kinds of numbers drove Kraft, for example, to introduce more than 20 new snack products last year, many of which are categorized as contributing to health and wellness.
Viewer ratings for the Oscars have been declining in recent years. And the current median age of the audience shows younger viewers are less interested in these types of shows. The Oscars has a median audience age 49.5, which has driven several categories of advertisers away. But it turns out to be just right for a new brand aimed square at baby boomers.
What is it?
It is the utter lack of doom and fear so prevalent in the West.
And it’s SOOO refreshing.
No the Indian advertising industry isn’t naive. Sure they know there is an economic fire at their feet, and they are cautious. BUT they also see potential in the future. They are optimistic. Some believe the economy will be brighter in few months from now.
For instance, I had dinner with Anant Rangaswami, the editor of Campaign India last night. He told me that as a matter of policy he doesn’t much like to write about negative economic stories. It’s not news anyway. And it would only add to the gloom. It scares the impressionable young talent who want to join in this incredible trade in which we work.
Good for him. This is leadership.
The Indian advertising industry is tightening belts, but some expect growth in 09. Some have even committed themselves to 9 percent growth in 09.
There is a belief in the future. People aren't dwelling on the negative. The spirit in the air of Mumbai compels people to believe that the future can be better even in a bad economy.
Four years ago, Heather, Karin, and I moved over from Europe and together with Tracy Lee, Belinda Lopez, and Jessica Davidson, we opened the NY office of StrawberryFrog. Our first "Pond" was in the Meat Packing District, off 13th street, round the corner from Pastis and the Gansvoort Hotel.
One of our first clients in the US was Old Navy. The San Francisco-based retailer commissioned us to develop a new brand strategy, and thereafter launch national TV advertising, print ads and in-store communications.
The rationale for these ads was the authentic experience you get when you step into an Old Navy store. Our anthropological research dug up the fact that consumers love the fun and plentiful store culture, which is what Old Navy is. Here is some of the work we produced.
Here is "Cord Farm"
And "Order Up"
El próximo sábado 14 de febrero cientos de parejas celebrarán el para muchos romántico día de San Valentín. Sin embargo, lo más probable es que este año las propuestas sean mucho menos ostentosas, teniendo en cuenta la fragilidad de los bolsillos en estos momentos de recesión económica. Pero, como suele decirse "la intención es lo que cuenta". Por su parte, las marcas tienen la oportunidad de sacar partido a este acontecimiento y remontar así la eterna cuesta de enero que les espera este año. Es su oportunidad para lanzar acciones creativas y originales que atraigan a los enamorados.
Así, estos días las marcas se inundan del espíritu de cupido y se lanzan a las calles en forma de carteles, luminosos, folletos y todo tipo de reclamos relacionados con este día. Nadie puede olvidar la cita, pues las firmas se encargan de recordárnoslo. En Madrid, el famoso portal de internet de encuentros amorosos, Match.com, ha organizado, como cada año, un sorprendente encuentro: El Boat Dating. En esta ocasión el escenario es el estanque del Retiro, donde a partir de las 12 de la mañana las parejas que así lo deseen podrán navegar en una barca personalizada con un toque romántico, a cortesía de la famosa web.
Para asegurar el éxito de convocatoria, Match.com organizó durante la mañana del jueves lo que denominó una "pesca urbana", en la Plaza de Felipe II. Allí, un grupo de pescadores, con su bote, invitó a los madrileños a unirse al Boat Dating.
Otro evento tendrá lugar en la madrileña calle Preciados, a las 11.30 horas. En esta ocasión, veremos un cupido mucho más moderno, acompañado de un equipo de ángeles suplentes, y dotado de un polígrafo con el que pondrá a prueba la sinceridad de las parejas españolas. Posteriormente, elaborarán un análisis con los datos obtenidos que se hará público al final de la jornada.
Agent Provocateur hace lo propio
Más allá de nuestras fronteras, la marca británica de lencería Agent Provocateur está propiciando una pequeña dosis de provocación y buzz por sus acciones en torno al día de los enamorados, tanto en la red como fuera de ella. Para empezar, hace unas dos semanas la marca se ganó algo de notoriedad por su tórrido spot para recordar a los hombres qué les puede pasar si se olvidan del Día de San Valentín: algo que se podría entender como un castigo, o, para muchos, ¿cómo un regalo?
Pero además, en nombre de Agent Provocateur, la blogger Olivia está caldeando el ambiente en la blogosfera con Hello, Agent Provocateur y en Twitter mientras transmite al público la cultura de la marca. En torno al día de los enamorados, esta blogger publicó un post sobre el tema "sexo y crisis" en el que citaba un estudio que afirma que se gastará menos dinero esta festividad, pero que eso no quiere decir que no se pueda celebrar.
Aunque pueda parecer lo contrario, la marca está claramente tratando de posicionarse como favorita para regalos íntimos. Otra acción curiosa de la marca en la red participativa: una aplicación para que los usuarios puedan mantener un registro estadístico de su actividad sexual, llamado Bedpost. La agencia encargada de la estrategia social de Agent Provocateur es StrawberryFrog.
2009 is our tenth anniversary. It's a milestone. I've received a lot of emails from friends, colleagues and former Frogs. "StrawberryFrog has reached its impressive 10th year anniversary. It must feel amazing to see in retrospective of all that you and team at SF has accomplished. So how does it feel and what do you have in mind for the next ten?" wrote Kathy. The next ten years...hmmm...good question. So much has changed since we staked out our territory back in 1999.
Back then it was rare that an independent, globally-minded agency would be handed huge and complex multinational brands to steward. But we cracked the glass ceiling and we won huge multi-market, multi-diciplined, multinational agency of record appointments. So much has happened in the last 10 years that beating a huge corporate agency or holding company for a massive account doesn't seem that impressive. But back then, the holding companies were held up to be godlike by their corporate clients. Back then, the clients depended on the agency to manage their internal challenges and the clients believed the only way to do that was by hiring a huge, multinational agency network.
Now clients are much more savvy and adaptive, especially in this economy.
It reminds me when I led the pitch for the global Cap Gemini business against the huge, global, Paris-based Euro RSCG, DDB, and Publicis, and FCB. Our idea was as relevant then as it is today: Defy the economy.
Pitch-day, we sat across the road from Cap Gemini’s arc de triumph headquarters and watched the different corporate agencies going into to pitch the account. Each one had several very senior people, and one younger person carrying what looked like a huge deck. The Frog team and I, which included Jim Haven (now founder of Creature in Seattle), and Astrid Boesze (now at 180 Amsterdam) decided to cut our presentation down to five slides and an anthemic brand film. I mean, how much can a board of directors take in during the course of five big agency pitches?
Amazingly, we won the international account. An agency called: "StrawberryFrog"?
It might have been the focused presentation. I’d like to believe it was the content. It was probably the fact that we were also in the midst of the last economic recession and the clients were looking for a transformative idea and a heck of lot more agility and efficiency.
The campaign we developed in StrawberryFrog Amsterdam was “Defy the Economy”. The idea was simple: create a character that was the "Economy" - A buffoon, the all-important one who controlled everything. Then, we showed people how to defy him. Our client, Cap Gemini (the global IT consultancy) could help you turn your organization into an adaptive enterprise, which enabled you to ride the waves of economic volatility.
Here is what the BBC wrote about it when the global campaign launched in major cities around the world. And here are two of the ads below – one print and one TV.