I’m beginning to feel my age, and likewise feel the resulting commercial ramifications.
As we approach the one Sunday of the year when advertisers’ messages garner almost as much attention as the Super Bowl broadcast they make possible, such an awareness is almost unavoidable.
I’ve become uncomfortably aware of specific products and services advertisers think I need.
It started several weeks ago when a sponsored Facebook message promoted an online news service with the boast, “This isn’t your parents’ news.”
I thought, well, no. My parents’ news was a doggone good product, and if this outlet is proud of not being anything like that, I don’t want it.
Walter Cronkite was my parents’ news — Walter, along with the local newspaper. If “my parents’ news” is no longer in vogue, I’m not sure I’m interested. If America could return to the time when Walter Cronkite and the local newspaper were the gold standard, we would be better served. Imagine Walter Cronkite with a Twitter account. I would be looking at my Twitter account more often than I do now.
Which is never.
Then, a Facebook “friend” I’ve not seen in person since before we both went on Social Security observed that if the halftime musical entertainment booked for the national championship college football game between Alabama and Georgia was evidence of who the sponsors thought would be watching, they weren’t thinking about us. The entertainer was no doubt talented with a loyal following somewhere, and I could almost understand the words, but it wasn’t to my taste.
Then, I noticed a camera angle from the blimp showing that the halftime venue was several blocks away from the stadium, so the fans who bought seats so they could watch the championship game in person weren’t the same audience.
Marketing trends being what they are, it’s a new reality for us. My friends and I years ago “graduated” into this undesired demographic. We now find ourselves in a group that’s no longer most coveted by the whippersnapper marketing moguls who make such decisions. It’s pounded home every time television ratings are reported. The most beloved audiences are ages 18 to 49, so advertisers generally direct their messages to that group.
However, the tide is turning. Older folks are flexing their economic muscles, and find themselves on the receiving end of plenty of advertising. The tricky part for commercial buyers is deciding the particular television shows and publications where those in our age are known to congregate.
The problem is, we “seniors” can be a diverse group, and there are not too many places where marketing people can be certain their targeted messages are going to land in front of folks they want.
The best places appear to include AARP magazine, evening news broadcasts on major networks, morning talk shows, and Barnaby Jones reruns.
So, until I decide I need them, I’ll continue to endure the stream of commercials for reverse mortgages, walk-in bathtubs, and pills curing diseases I didn’t know existed.
The good news is advertisers aren’t taking my demographic for granted. After all, a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in a recent year, Americans over 50 spent $87 billion for vehicles, compared to $70 million for everybody else. And baby boomers represented 40 percent of paid wireless users.
If Wall Street thinks we’re not willing to spend our children’s inheritance, perhaps they should think again.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.