Louis Monteiro

DDB Influences 9.16

Enjoy the cozy fall weather with a good read in your armchair.

October 2016

In this episode we will talk about two important issues:

  1. Forget about Millennials. 
    The most powerful force in marketing are the baby-boomers.
    Millennials are more present than ever. But, brands and marketers often forget about the baby boomers, the ones who are now on their 50s and 60s. But what are the common assumptions? How can we address the problem? And which brands are talking to them successfully? Analysis of this target group and its behaviors.
  2. Is the second reality the next big thing or just a hype?
    Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are omnipresent. We explore them through games like Pokémon Go, 360° advertisements and even through dedicated gadgets like the Google Glasses. Will this become our new way of life or is this just a trend that will fade out through time? The question is: Shall we as advertisers jump on the trend-train and squeeze the hype or rather build a fundament for a disruptive innovation?

1. Forget about Millennials. The most powerful force in marketing are the baby-boomers

Our industry is always leaned towards what’s fresh and young. There is nothing wrong with this, but for the past years, all our briefs seem to target the same target group: The Millennials. As a matter of fact, 80% of ad budgets worldwide target 18–34s . But there’s a group of people we seem to not be paying the due attention: baby boomers, people who are in their 50s or 60s. They account for 34% of the adult population and 80% of all wealth in the US and UK, but a mere 5% of worldwide advertising budget is spent on campaigns talking to people over fifty. Only 5%.

To make the scenario even worse, most of the times when we try to address them, we portray this target group in a stereotypical, patronizing way. It’s time for us to drop the “grey hair and slippers”. Prepare to have your preconceptions blown away.

“I think if you talk to my parents generation then yes, they were old before their time, but my generation, or onwards — they’re very different.” (Kate Percival, CEO and Co-founder, Grace Belgravia)

What’s the influence?

Blessed with longer life expectancy, they are demonstrating behavior and attitudes markedly more youthful than generations before them. From online dating to fashion, from video games to wearables, the baby boomers are living their lives with optimism and self-confidence, experiencing new things, playing with technology, buying houses, starting new businesses (and,by the way, being very successful in this endeavor). They’re adapting and shaping our society more than we can imagine. Yet, they don’t see themselves in ads (82%, to be more exact). In order to portray this generation correctly, we need to understand them. Join us in this journey. It’ll be fun and quite revealing, we promise.

Grandma is ruling the internet

Contrary to common belief, baby boomers are the age group who spend the most on technology. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, they consume 40% (in total dollars) of the category. Not only do they spend more money, but they are also more online than ever. 82% compare prices online before shopping and 50% compare prices online while in the store, a phenomenon called Showrooming. Tinder is only for youngsters? Think again. 1 in 3 singles over fifty are dating online, according to websitehigh50.com. Some technology brands have already woken up and are developing products and strategies that take this public’s needs into consideration.

One example is LEO Fitness tracker, a wearable device that is worn around the thigh and can tell you if you’re dehydrated, have a muscle imbalance or if you are pushing yourself too hard and need to stop.

Home Depot designs its website with an approach to help baby-boomers’ shopping, according to their CEO, Craig Menear. Some of those initiatives include: search bar in every section of the site, facilitated navigation and the “do-it-for-me” section, with a group of services and professionals to help people in mounting and reforming their houses. The results are paying off: In 2013, homedepot.com sales grew 50%, $900M of the company’s total growth of $5B.

Lifetime loyalty? It’s dead

“At our age, we don’t mind spending, but we don’t want to be conned, so having value for money, where you can actually say ‘that was a really good deal’ is what I want. I mean, we can all pay top prices and more, but at our age we want our money to go a bit further.” Charlotte, 60–69

Another common assumption that propagates in discussions and briefs around the world is that we don’t need to advertise that much for the baby boomers because they’re brand loyalists. Wrong again. 3 in 5 are using different brands now compared to twenty years ago. They are also less likely than Millennials to personally identify with brands and act as advocates for them, according to this research by Boston Consulting Group.

But how can we address this problem?

The list can go on and on. But, instead of showing more common assumptions for our demographic group, we’ve decided to list some thought starters to provoke further discussion.

Integrate, not segregate

When developing communication strategies, brands need to think how to integrate the language and cultural codes relevant to them. Provide age-friendly, not age-oriented products, services and spaces. The Me By Me campaign by TK Maxx does this gracefully, integrating a baby boomer woman running at the beach with her bathing suit. Why not? Take a look.

Hire them

One of the main reasons why baby boomers are embracing the entrepreneurship spirit is because companies are not hiring them. In fact, the unemployment rate among this group is way higher than other generations (45% vs 37% in the UK). In the ad industry, the scenario is even worse. We need to incorporate policies that encourage senior employment. After all, heterogeneity is always good for business.

BMW is one brand that is taking the lead in this regard. Its factory in Germany is pro-age, as it predicts its ratio of older workers will increase from 25% today to 35% in 2020.

Another reference under this topic is the movie “The Intern”, where Al Pacino is an intern in an e-commerce company.

“Numerous research studies have repeatedly demonstrated a strong business case for older workers. Their impact and experience enables better customer service, enhanced knowledge retention and they help transfer skills and knowledge and develop talent rapidly through mentoring, leadership and coaching” Kate Bruges, Co-director of Talent at JWT

Don’t assume they were happy when they were younger

Rejecting a traditional linear path through life, they are revisiting life stages at will. In fact, 63% of baby boomers enjoy life more now than they did when they were younger. This is an important question for brands and how they communicate with them. They don’t see being fifty a problem, so why should anyone else treat them that way? They want to eat life, not end it.

Take this campaign from Toyota. A perfect example to change perceptions.

More inspiration from brands around the world

peSeta & Marc Jacobs

This ad, which promotes a collaboration between Spanish espadrille producer peSeta and Marc Jacobs, features a dead-cool sixty-something tapping his toes along to the music playing on his record-playing beret. The work presents us with a style icon, and provides a rare example of an older male model in a high fashion context.

Centrum — Pick up the game

Experience and time-seasoned skills trump youthful vigor in this 2014 short film for Centrum in the US, which depicts a basketball game between a team of twenty-somethings and some “old guys” who think they’ve still “got game”. The inspirational campaign, which racked up almost a million views in less than six months, and is a bold reinterpretation of the physical nature of growing older. It provides a much-needed positive riposte to the usual representations of fifty-plus decline.

Hellen Mirren and L’oréal — The Perfect Age

Hellen Mirren is one of the biggest icons to the baby boomer generation. L’oréal understood that and invited the actress to be the new face of its anti-aging line. This video is a manifesto showing how this generation feels about themselves.

So, next time we think about strategies for our clients/brands, how about taking this massively important group into consideration?


Felipe Moulin // Senior Strategic Planner, DDB Germany

Is the second reality the next big thing or just a hype?

What is the influence?

This summer, zombie-like walking kids and people silently standing next to each other were unavoidable: Pokémon Go was everywhere. Soon after the release the search for the best marketing stunt to catch the players began. The records breaking game reached more than 10% of the people in Germany in just two months. A surprising result for a game. Did these results occur thanks to the implementation of AR technology or because people still feel the Pokémon nostalgic? Unfortunately we will have to wait for the next game to give an answer.

But what we can say is that the market for VR and AR is growing rapidly. In 2018 experts expect around 170 million VR users and the revenue will grow up to $10 billion. The request for this technology rises. Both businesses and customers are highly interested in these technological developments. That’s why the market is not anymore owned by niche tech-companies but by the biggest players: Google, Sony, Samsung and Apple — all participate in the race for the first mainstream device that will change the way we live. We will see a fight about standards, leading positions and best utilisation.

Forecast of Virtual Reality User (2014–2018 worldwide)

Forecast of Virtual Reality Revenue (2014–2018 worldwide)

Google glasses are back

And even a dead thought AR project gets back to life: The Google Glass. The project, which failed at its first attempt, is now experiencing a renaissance. The University of Massachusetts Medical School found a way to connect surgeons with each other in real time while one of their colleagues assesses a patient — even if he is on the other side of the world. It shows that there are possible uses for the Glass, but not enough occasions in daily life to enter the mainstream market.

Augmented Translation

Other than the Google Glass, the Word Lens Translator uses the technology in a way that people already embraced in their lives: through their smartphones. This app translates pictures in real time and shows signs and texts in the preferred language. It is handy for travellers but up to now it lacks of the ability to recognize handwritten texts. This is just the beginning — the need is real and so will be evolutions of this app.

Fresh Augmented Reality

Especially Augmented Reality is perfect to blow consumers away. And which brand would be better fitted to blow people away than a brand that encourages people to blow their noses? Tempo, a tissue producer, invented a “Magic Mirror” to promote their new product “fresh to go”. The mirror was set up in a mall and whenever people stopped in front of it, it added fascinating pictures like floating whales to the mirrored reflection of the people’s reality. Their intention was to stress the feeling of freshness in an unprecedented yet natural way. And it worked: the people were excited about this new kind of advertisement.

Authentic Irish

An exciting example for the play with Virtual Reality came from Old Irish Georgia. They invited people to discover Ireland through Virtual Reality glasses. A journey over the Highlands terminated in an authentic Irish bar. While the viewer focused on the VR, the involved brand representatives from Old Irish Georgia set up an authentic Irish Pub around them and reconstructed the last scene of the video. At the very end of the VR experience, a tough, huge guy in the bar harasses the explorer, which is not that frightening if you think you are in a movie. But exactly this guy afterwards took off his VR gear and shouted at him in the real world. This is a very smart use of the confusion VR causes naturally.

IKEA kitchen

IKEA shows that this technology can also be used very practically. They created a VR application with which their customers could explore different kitchens in a virtual room. With a click they could even switch colours. With moving the head in a certain way, the point of view could be changed as well. This was a pilot project for IKEA to see how the customer interact and, more important, to collect data and feedback feedback for creating future similar projects.

Schooltrip to Mars

But the full potential of mixed reality is shown by a project of the Lockhead Martin Group. They invited a school class on a regular field trip. But this trip soon was exposed as a trip to Mars in a unique way: On the first glance, the bus that should take them on their trip could not be any more ordinary. But as it departed its windows suddenly did not show their known streets anymore, but instead the moving surface of Mars. The most astonishing part of the VR experience was that the movements of the bus were transmitted to the screens. Each corner the bus drove, each time it accelerated or broke, the pictures would move and adjust to the speed. This way the children really felt like driving in a bus on Mars. Obviously this project took some more technologies than just VR, but this case shows the opportunities for our society, education and community that come with technological progress.

Imagine a school lesson where the teacher explains different kinds of fish while they are actually diving through an underwater world — without having to leave the classroom.

Or medical students who could learn all about the human body without having to touch one before they feel ready to.

Of course, we are just at the beginning of mixed reality and the cases are more playful than sustainable, but we should see the full potential of AR and VR. We should not underrate this technology as a hype. We should be ready to handle it professionally with all its facets and build a basis to be open for innovations and create them by ourselves.


Tom Hormann // Junior Strategic Planner, DDB Germany

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