Remote Control

Advertisers Gone Wild


Attention Boomer Advertisers

There’s a television commercial running these days that practically turns me inside out with disgust. No, it’s not because it’s pitching a product that should only be discussed behind closed doors – come on people, some of us are trying to eat dinner. No, I recoil at the entire 30 seconds because of how boomers are portrayed.

I think it opens at the beach with a whole bunch of unbelievably happy people romping around. The announcer, a man with a voice as smooth as James Earl Jones’, pulls us into the scene by sliding through some perfectly asinine remark about how we are the generation who refused to get old. (Really? Tell that to my crows feet.) But then, it gets even worse. Cut to a guy, who looks about 40, playing his guitar (!) while a 30 something blond bimbo, in a sequined top no less, nearly explodes because she is just having so much fun. Who are these people and why are they in my living room?

Advertising to boomers is the new niche market. It makes sense, since there are approximately 78 million of us and we control a vast majority of this country’s assets. And, I suppose it’s true that we are reinventing this whole aging thing, though I think some of us are doing a better job of it than others.  Okay, so we are the go-to market.  But how that pitch is presented is why I scramble for the mute button on the remote whenever a commercial comes on the tube. (I’d be curious to do the math here – over all, is the volume off more  than it’s on ? I’d bet so, given the number of commercials that fill the airwaves.)

One company is pushing forward with a “Pro-Age” campaign. I have to admit, I found this both innovating and rather refreshing when it first came out – real women, with bulges, wrinkles, and sagging body parts. They are also pouring millions into their “Real Beauty” campaign. Good for them! But underneath all of this “you’re fine just the way you are” chatter, is a company who is selling countless products to make us feel and look younger.  I’m confused. What’s the message here? Are we really okay the way we are or should we actually be cleansing, exfoliating, and vitalizing at every turn to keep us looking younger?

What about those ads for denture adhesive? Have you seen the one that features a couple who look like they are still a few years away from their twentieth high school reunion, smiling and laughing their way through corn on the cob? Wow! The tag line? “Live Life to Its Fullest.” Trust me, I’m not ridiculing the product, nor anyone who has to use it. (I know I certainly want to hold on to every tooth in my head.) It’s just that this particular spot really misses the mark for me.

But the advertisements that jerk me around the most are the ones using some of the best music ever written to sell their products. It’s blasphemy to hear a variation of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, or even The Mamas and The Papas floating through a spot. I mean, how do you react when you hear  “One Way or Another” by Blondie, while you watch some nit wit woman dancing through her house with a plastic mop? (She needs to get out more, don’t you think?)

I suppose I shouldn’t be so critical. I realize people have to make a living; consumers need to know about different products. But being part of the new marketing niche just isn’t working for me. I feel as though my IQ drops a few points every time one of these ads appears on the screen. And at this point in my life, I consider every bit of intelligence I possess to be downright precious.

So, in keeping with the spirit of this column – whining is pointless, solutions are everything – I’ve elected to be proactive on this subject. As I see it, I have choices. There’s always the mighty mute  button. PBS is fantastic. (Although, they too have to earn a buck. How many of you sit through the pledge drives?) Or, best of all, I can settle into my favorite chair with a good book.

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