Weekly column in the Washington Times Communities by Laurie Edwards-Tate
Whether you’re a football fan or not, you’re probably talking about the commercials from this weekend’s Super Bowl: Clint Eastwood, David Beckham and Adriana Lima, talking babies, plenty of clever dogs and lots of auto ads.
But if you’re over 50, you probably noticed most of the advertisers didn’t bother to talk to you. This is a big, big mistake. Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 represent 26.3 percent of the country’s total population but control a third of all consumer spending – more than $2.1 trillion in annual buying power according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute. That’s more than sixteen times Generation X (born 1965-1976, $125 billion in buying power) and Generation Y (1977 – present, $172 billion buying power).
Only two of the top 15 favorite brands of Baby Boomers identified by Ad Age magazine bought advertising on the Super Bowl: Volkswagen and Pepsi. The list in order:
- The Beatles
- Absolut Vodka
- Saturday Night Live
- Frye Boots
- Coach Bags
- Club Med
The Vibrant Woman website surveyed its audience of women over 50 about their favorite brands. None of them showed up either: Polo/Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, Jack Daniels, Subaru, Starbucks, and Merrill shoes.
Other brands known for targeting baby boomers with successful marketing include BMW/Mini and Starwood Hotels. They were missing in action too.
Just one ad was clearly designed to appeal to Baby Boomers. It came from Honda with its send-up of the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” featuring the mature in age but not in attitude Matthew Broderick. Most critics applauded it as fun, creative, and clever, among the most successful ads of this year’s game.
We have to go back two years to Super Bowl 44 in 2010 to find a commercial that successfully appealed to adults over 50, and it was by far the most successful Super Bowl commercial that year and named the most successful commercial for all of 2010. It’s possibly one of the few you can remember: the Snickers commercial featuring Betty White and Abe Vigoda playing touch football. The commercial turned out to be a springboard for the then 88-year-old White, who has since become one of the most popular and well-known celebrities in the United States and who is still going strong at age 90.
The group that really missed out: technology companies. USA Today reported in 2011 that Baby Boomers spend more on technology than young buyers, according to data from Forrester Research. It’s true that younger buyers are eager technology shoppers but they don’t have the buying power of the Baby Boomers. For example, Baby Boomers are buying more Apple products. They cite their ease of use, speed, dependability, and style. Imagine that!
It’s true that people of all ages get a kick out of funny animals, babies, and wild stunts, but imagine the payoff if a company actually figured out that people over 50 are watching, are paying attention, and have money ready to spend. It seems like a winning formula to me.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
VIDEO: Watch all the Super Bowl XLVI ads here.