Media

"Where's the Beef?"

WherestheBeefIn 1984, a series of commercials for the burger chain, Wendy's, created a sensation. It resulted in a catchphrase that became so popular it was used in the Democratic presidential debate that year: Walter Mondale asked Gary Hart, "Where's the beef?"

As you'll see in the video below, three elderly ladies were featured in the ad, with Clara Peller asking the now immortal question. The commercial was admittedly humorous and playful, but it certainly did not portray seniors in the best light. 

Fast forward to today and we still experience ageism in advertising, as I wrote about in a previous blog post. I referenced an AARP article by AgeWave founder Ken Dychtwald. In the article, Dychtwald writes that "advertising is still far too often out of sync with the reality of today's older, more seasoned buyer." He quotes Chip Conley, founder of the Modern Elder Academy, who agrees: “Many ads are viewed by the older population as stereotypical and patronizing. Most advertisers receive a failing grade in their efforts to understand and relate to older adults.”

So now I want to ask marketers everywhere: When it comes to seniors, "Where's the beef?"

It's a sad fact that when marketers aren't making fun of seniors (which they often do), they are ignoring us. Big mistake.

A recent article on Entrepreneur.com cites data about the "silver economy," a phrase the European Parliament used in 2015, that means “the sum of all economic activity that serve the needs of people aged 50 and over, including the products and services they purchase directly and the further economic activity this spending generates.”

This data from The Brookings Institute should be reason enough for marketers to sit up and pay attention to the silver economy: 

"...seniors are significant players in the economy: There are currently 750 million seniors in the world, and by 2030, there will be one billion. Seniors in the consumer class are expected to grow by as much as 66% and are the wealthiest age group in the world (alongside older professionals aged 45-64 years). The number of seniors grows by 3.2% every year compared to an overall population growth rate of 0.8%."

Entrepreneur.com laments, "65-plus is often a discarded demographic." As a 65-plus Boomer who retired from the marketing profession, I'm amazed and perturbed that leading brands and their agencies simply do not fathom that we Boomers are equivalent to a prime A1 cut of beef as a target demographic. Marketers, here's some news for you: WE BUY STUFF! Not only that, research shows the Boomer consumer is discerning, willing to consider different products, open to change and tech savvy. You and I know it. I wish marketers understood it too. Hey, marketers, the answer to the question, "Where's the beef?" is RIGHT HERE. It's not the young 'uns, it's the Boomer audience!

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

New Book Shows How World War II Helped Launch "Boomer Brands"


Not So Funny

Dan-cook-MCauAnBJeig-unsplashI cheered when I read well-known aging expert Ken Dychtwald's recent article for AARP entitled "Ageism Is Alive and Well in Advertising." In it, Dychtwald uses several excellent examples of "Ageist" vs. "Respectful" ads, largely created by marketing agencies for their clients. As you can intuit, the "Ageist" examples debase seniors in a variety of ways, often ridiculing their age and negatively portraying them. This is not an occasional transgression -- it is an all-too-common practice among ad agencies, typically peopled by younger generations, who routinely make fun of the 50-plus crowd. I know, because for a time I worked in a large ad agency where I was clearly an elder statesman in my fifties.

In the article, Dychtwald writes that "advertising is still far too often out of sync with the reality of today's older, more seasoned buyer." He quotes Chip Conley, founder of the Modern Elder Academy, who agrees: “Many ads are viewed by the older population as stereotypical and patronizing. Most advertisers receive a failing grade in their efforts to understand and relate to older adults.”

As Dychtwald cites in his article, ageism in advertising is not a wise marketing strategy, because the 55-plus audience controls 70 percent of all personal wealth in the United States, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve. What's more Boomers resent it -- in a 2121 AARP survey, 62 percent of consumers age 50-plus agreed with the statement, "I wish ads had more realistic images of people my age." Nearly half (47 percent) agreed that "ads of people my age reinforce outdated stereotypes." That doesn't bode well for advertisers who continue to propagate ads that bash Boomers.

I wrote about this very issue exactly two years ago in my post, "Marketing the Old Age Myth:"

As a retired marketing professional, it is especially painful for me to see how today's marketers characterize older Americans. As I watch television or flip through magazines, I notice ads that incessantly pitch medications to the elderly, poke fun at aging or portray anyone with gray hair as a doddering, incompetent sedentary fool.

Here we are two years later and, as Dychtwald points out, things haven't gotten all that much better. Thankfully, Dychtwald writes, there are some marketers who are more enlightened today and treat seniors with respect. But not enough of them do so. That isn't just bad for the advertising business, it's bad for our society in general. 

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

Photo by Dan Cook on Unsplash

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New Book Shows How World War II Helped Launch "Boomer Brands"


New Book Shows How World War II Helped Launch "Boomer Brands"

Mockup2I'm excited to announce the publication of my new book, WORLD WAR BRANDS: World War II and the Rise of the Modern American Brand. This unique book takes a fresh look at the impact of World War II on America from a marketing perspective.

In this book you'll learn:

  • How Coca-Cola, Disney and other great American brands played an integral role in World War II
  • Why some American brands chose to do business with Nazi Germany
  • How television influenced the rise of the modern American brand
  • Plus, see 38 vintage ads that reflect the wartime economy.

The post-war economy led to the rise of the American middle class and spawned a new generation known as "Baby Boomers." The war fueled strong economic growth that turned the country into a major global force. Post-war America became a bubbling cauldron of scores of inventive, innovative brands. When television came along, marketing those brands rose to a whole new level.

WORLD WAR BRANDS covers it all. Included are many stories about some of the best-known brands of the '40s and '50s. These are the brands Boomers grew up with, so this book is an adrenalin shot of nostalgia!

Kirkus Reviews calls WORLD WAR BRANDS "a convincing history about the role of World War II in developing brand consciousness among consumers in the United States." Sherry Tuffin, a reviewer for Reedsy Discovery, gives the book five stars and writes, "After reading WORLD WAR BRANDS you may never look at your favorite brands in the same way. What do I think of this book? In the words of Tony the Tiger, a brand superstar, 'It’s Gr-r-r-r-r-eat'!"

WORLD WAR BRANDS is available in paperback and eBook formats from all major booksellers.

Read a free sample chapter here.


The Four Pillars Revisited

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Last September, I published four posts about the "Four Pillars of the New Retirement," a landmark study by Edward Jones, Age Wave and The Harris Poll that delved into living well in retirement in four key areas: Health, Family, Purpose and Finances.  This study has now been updated to reflect the specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the perceptions of each generation about retirement; the new study is appropriately titled "What a Difference a Year Makes."

According to the study, 76 percent of Americans across all generations say the pandemic helped them "refocus on what's most important in life." There were other important statistics that came out of the study. I've cherry-picked a few data points that should be of most interest to Boomers:

  • 61 percent of retirees say the pandemic gave them "more appreciation for what makes life meaningful"
  • 53 percent of retirees say they now have “greater empathy and compassion for people who are struggling in ways that they are not”
  • 69 percent of retirees believe "having a sense of purpose in life is important to achieving optimal wellbeing"
  • 67 percent of retirees say "spending time with loved ones provides them with the greatest source of meaning, purpose and fulfillment"
  • nearly all retirees (93 percent) believe it’s important to feel useful in retirement, and 87 percent agree that being useful actually “makes them feel youthful”
  • 89 percent of retirees now believe “there should be more ways for retirees to put their talents and knowledge to use for the benefit of their communities and society”
  • 66 percent of pre-retirees age 50-plus now cite healthcare and long-term care expenses as a major worry
  • 70 percent of Americans across all generations see the pandemic as a "financial wake-up call," and 69 million people say the pandemic altered their retirement timing.

The creators of the study reached some interesting conclusions, among them:

  1. "Powerful forces have converged to reshape retirement, including the COVID-19 pandemic, altering retirement timing and savings for tens of millions of Americans."
  2. "The financial fallout from the pandemic has been unequally distributed."
  3. "Women's confidence in their retirement savings continues to drop while men's is rebounding."
  4. There is a potential wellspring of retirees interested in being a force for social good."
  5. The majority of retirees wish they had done a better job planning for both the financial and the non-financial aspects of retirement."

I would add my own reflection on the study: Americans in general, and Boomers in particular, have proven to be remarkably resilient. Even in the face of crisis and tragedy, Boomers find a way to rise up and prevail.

You can download a copy of both the original and updated studies here:
https://www.edwardjones.com/us-en/market-news-insights/retirement/new-retirement

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

Read about 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s! 


Ageism is a Global Issue

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Who would think that WHO (the World Health Organization) would launch something called the "Global Campaign to Combat Ageism"? But they just did, stating this compelling reason:

"Ageism is the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age. Ageism is pervasive and has profound negative consequences on older adults' health and wellbeing. We need to act now to improve the lives of people everywhere. In response to a call from Member States, WHO is leading and working with other stakeholders on a Global Campaign to Combat Ageism that aims to build a world for all ages by changing the way we think, feel and act towards age and ageing."

In WHO's 200-plus Global Report on Ageism, the organization reports, "Globally, one in two people are ageist against older people." WHO says "Ageism has serious and far-reaching consequences for people's health, well-being and human rights. For older people, ageism is associated with a shorter lifespan, poorer physical and mental health, slower recovery from disability and cognitive decline. Ageism reduces older people's quality of life, increases their social isolation and loneliness (both of which are associated with serious health problems), restricts their ability to express their sexuality and may increase the risk of violence and abuse against older people."

WHO believes three strategies can reduce ageism: Policy and law, educational interventions and intergenerational contact interventions. The organization's three recommendations for action are:

  1. Invest in evidence-based strategies to prevent and tackle ageism.
  2. Improve data and research to get a better understanding of ageism and how to reduce it.
  3. Build a movement to change the narrative around age and ageing.

In an effort to jumpstart the campaign, WHO has created a "Toolkit" for anyone who wants to help fight ageism. It includes resources to inspire conversations, organize events and spread the word via social media and other methods. I have included a link to the Toolkit (PDF) here:

Download Combat-ageism-toolkit

American Boomers are in a unique position: We ourselves are often victims of ageism, especially in the workplace. But we are also one of the most appropriate groups to combat ageism. I encourage everyone -- of any age -- to download the Toolkit and join the fight. Ageism is a global issue, and as WHO says, "It is time to say no to ageism."

Image: World Health Organization

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

Read about 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s! 


Happy Scam-adays

Media Road-sign-464653_1920It's holiday time and Boomers should be thinking about... scams. That's right, scams.

This time of year we focus on celebrating the holidays but sadly, it's also a time when scammers are doing their best to bilk Boomers, as well as others. Everyone is vulnerable to scamming during the holidays since we tend to be distracted and let our guard down. This is an especially trying holiday time with the pandemic, because many of us have restricted our travel and we are likely to stay home rather than visit family and friends. That means you may be spending more time online -- so you are more prone to scams. You also may be answering calls on your phone more often, even from phone numbers you don't recognize.

Unfortunately, online and phone scammers alike are becoming much more sophisticated. They are posing as charities, banks, government agencies, shipping companies and more. For example, emails, websites and text messages might look completely legitimate, but they could be fake. (Have you gotten any of those "shipping notice" texts recently? That's one of the latest scams.) The same is true of phone calls that seem to come from banks, Medicare, the FBI or the IRS.

To keep you from turning your holidays into "scam-adays," I recommend that you read an informative series of articles, "Scams & Older Adults: What to Do?" You'll find it on an excellent website for seniors, Tech-enhanced Life, here: https://www.techenhancedlife.com/articles/scams-older-adults-what-do

This series of four articles, written by a retired psychologist, contains valuable information and tips:

Part 1: Scams & Older Adults. Why older people are especially vulnerable to scams – it’s not just because they are less tech-savvy than younger generations.

Part 2: Forewarning. How scams generally work, what their objectives may be, and ways to recognize signs and situations that increase your vulnerability. (Includes lots of actual examples.)

Part 3: Forearming. Ways to reduce your vulnerability to scams and ways to help yourself and your loved-ones to remain scam-free by following some basic safety rules.

Part 4: Taking control - When you need to step in. What you can do if you need to step in directly to help a loved-one manage their affairs to avoid exploitation. (Your parents or older family members are even more susceptible to scams than you are.)

Consider this my holiday gift to you -- so you'll be able to celebrate the holidays without getting scammed!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

Read about 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s! 


COVID-19 and Generational Resilience

Picture-416614_1920For this blog post, I am taking the unusual step of providing information directly from Age Wave (mentioned in my previous post) about a just-released retirement study that is important for Boomers to know about. This report is based on a large-scale investigation of what it means to live well in retirement that began in November 2019. The study was conducted by Edward Jones in partnership with Age Wave and The Harris Poll. 

August 4, 2020 - Despite COVID-19’s severe and disproportionate impact on the health of aging adults, older Americans reported they are coping far better than younger ones, according to the Edward Jones and Age Wave study released today, “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement.” The 9,000-person, five-generation study in the U.S. and Canada revealed that in the U.S. 37% of Gen Z and 27% of millennials said they have suffered mental health declines since the pandemic began, while only 15% of baby boomers and 8% of silent generation respondents said the same. 

"COVID-19’s impact forever changed the reality of many Americans, yet we’ve observed a resilience among U.S. retirees in contrast to younger generations,” said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., psychologist/gerontologist and founder and CEO of Age Wave. “Older Americans tend to recognize the value of a long-term view, and so as they think about their lives, longevity and legacy, they’re able to pull from an array of experiences that help them weather current storms, feel gratitude about many aspects of their lives and still plan for the future.” 

The landmark Edward Jones and Age Wave research uncovered a new definition for retirement, as far more than simply the end of work. The majority of U.S. retirees (55%) defined retirement as a whole new chapter filled with new choices, freedoms and challenges, and they do so in a more holistic way across four important areas of health, family, purpose and finance.

COVID-19's Impact on Family Closeness and Finances
COVID-19’s initial dramatic impact on the U.S. economy and personal financial situations may very well leave long-lasting implications. Reflecting a great deal of generational generosity, 24 million Americans* have provided financial support to adult children due to COVID-19, and an overwhelming 71% of retirees said they would offer financial support to their family even if it could jeopardize their own financial future. Despite COVID-19’s negative impact on finances, 67% of Americans said the pandemic has brought their families closer together. The research also revealed that 20 million Americans stopped making retirement savings contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic and only a quarter of working Americans were on track with their retirement savings prior to the pandemic. 

“We've certainly seen COVID-19's disruptive force on finances, with the pandemic influencing retirement timing and financial confidence,” said Ken Cella, Edward Jones Client Services Group Principal. “However, this cloud has brought several silver linings in terms of family closeness and important discussions about planning earlier for retirement, saving more for emergencies and even talking through end-of-life plans and long-term care costs.”

Social Relationships as Predictor of Health and Purpose
While loneliness is pervasive across all five generations, as people age, physical isolation becomes a greater health risk, as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day , and it is linked to increased risk for heart disease and dementia.  While most retirees (76%) said they derive the greatest sense of purpose from social relationships, specifically time spent with loved ones, 72% noted that one of their biggest fears is becoming a burden on their families. 

"Retirees say they miss people and purpose, not paychecks, when they retire, but 31% of new retirees are struggling to find purpose in this stage of life. They want to feel useful, not just youthful, and keep learning and growing at every age," Dychtwald added. 

The study found that 89% of all Americans feel that there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge for the benefit of their communities and society at large. 

Financial Advisors as Connectors and Confidence Builders
As Americans redefine retirement in a broader way across the four pillars, the majority of U.S. respondents felt their ideal financial advisor is a guide who can understand them and help them achieve their goals. In fact, 84% of those working with a financial advisor said that their financial advisor relationship gave them a greater sense of comfort regarding their finances during the pandemic.

Further underscoring the fundamental importance of financial security, retirees are often met by new challenges as they enter retirement. Thirty-six percent of retirees said managing money in retirement is more confusing than saving for retirement, and they want help navigating. Fifty-two percent of retirees cited healthcare costs, including long-term care, as the most common financial worry. This concern was also echoed by pre-retirees as more than two-thirds (68%) of those who plan to retire in the next 10 years said they have no idea what their healthcare and long-term care costs will be in retirement.

“Beyond finances, we can help our clients envision and truly realize a holistic retirement, which, we know includes decisions about their health, family and purpose,” said Cella. “Empathy and knowledge allow us to better serve to our clients in a human-centered way and work together to achieve what’s most important to them and their families.”

While the above findings feature a selection of respondents’ thoughts regarding the new definition of retirement, further examination of the four pillars of health, family, purpose and finances reveal their highly intertwined nature and influence in shaping retirees’ overall quality of life. For more details from The Four Pillars of the New Retirement, please visit www.EdwardJones.com/NewRetirement.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image by Hajnalka Mahler from Pixabay

Read about 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s!


Forewarned is Forearmed

Social-media-1989152_1920 MediaMost Boomers realize that we are at a higher risk for serious symptoms and perhaps even life-threatening complications from the coronavirus because of our age. Those of us who have underlying conditions may be at even higher risk. Given current virus surge conditions in several states, some of which have high retiree populations, Boomers need to remain vigilant when they venture out and prudent when it comes to mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing.

In our digital world, information about COVID-19 flows at lightning speed. At times, it seems overwhelming, especially if you have to cull through sources you may be uncertain about. I've been finding this to be especially true when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic and its deleterious effects on Boomers. Unfortunately, even the federal government is not always providing information you can trust.

One strategy I've used is to rely on legitimate health-related organizations, educational institutions and non-profit foundations for unbiased, objective information.

One such organization, The John A. Hartford Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the care of older adults, offers a particularly comprehensive resource of trustworthy information for older adults, including:

What Older Adults and Their Family Caregivers Should Know
Links to articles from ten respected organizations

What Long-Term Care Providers Should Know
Links to four helpful articles

What Health Care Professionals Should Know
Extensive information, including geriatric and serious illness care.

You'll find this excellent resource here:
https://www.johnahartford.org/dissemination-center/view/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-resources-for-older-adults-family-caregivers-and-health-care-providers

In addition, if you are looking for more general information about COVID-19 from an authoritative source, you might want to check out the Coronavirus Resource Center provided by Johns Hopkins: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

Finally, if you want to know the risk level for the pandemic where you live, check out this remarkably useful U.S. county/state map from the Harvard Global Health Institute: https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Read about 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s!


"Oscar" isn't the Only One Who's Aging

Media Oscar-3200050_1920That famous little statue will be handed out at the 92nd annual Academy Award ceremony on February 9. Yes, "Oscar" is 92 years old.

This year, it's encouraging to see a whole host of "older" (i.e., over 50) actors and directors get nominated. As my colleague Julie Gorges writes in her blog, Baby Boomer Bliss, "I keep hoping that Hollywood, and society at large, haven’t completely forgotten the value of the older crowd with their knowledge, life experience, and insight. Maybe this is a step in the right direction."

I think it can be said with some degree of confidence that acting is a timeless art, and we are just as taken with outstanding performances from older actors as from younger ones. How can you be anything but impressed by the acting of Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in "The Two Popes," or Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in "The Irishman." (It was, however, a bit unsettling and even spooky knowing that De Niro, Pacino and Pesci were digitally modified to look younger for most of the movie.)

Interestingly, both "The Two Popes" and "The Irishman" were produced by Netflix, so there appears to be a growing opportunity for older actors as the number of streaming options have increased. Companies such as Amazon and Netflix are producing numerous television series and movies featuring older actors, recognizing, perhaps, that the 50-plus crowd is a formidable demographic making up a solid portion of their streaming audiences.

This is positive for two reasons: First, it reinvigorates and extends the careers of aging actors. Second, it acknowledges that older characters can and should be represented prominently in television and films. Too often in the past (and even today), older characters have been relegated to minor roles or, worse, parodied and ridiculed in the media. It is refreshing to see Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin ("The Kominsky Method") and Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin ("Grace and Frankie") as headliners in two successful television series on Netflix. Sure, both shows poke fun at aging, but in a realistic and sometimes poignant manner.

Employing older actors and depicting older characters on screen is a more accurate representation of the real America. Let's hope the trend continues. 

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Pixabay.com

Check out the new book featuring 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s!


When It Comes to Boomers, the Media is MIA

Media ID-10041088These days, the news media tends to be largely obsessed with politics and the world's ills. When it does cover human interest stories, however, the focus of attention often seems to be on the under-55 age group. Are we to assume from this coverage that there is nothing newsworthy about Boomers? Of course not -- but it is one more disturbing form of not-so-subtle ageism that sticks in one's craw.

In a recent post, I discussed the sad fact that the advertising industry actively practices ageism, as demonstrated in new research by AARP. Despite the size of the Boomer demographic in the U.S. -- about 74 million people -- and the reality that they hold the majority of America's wealth, advertisers choose to mostly ignore Boomers. In another post, I referenced the impact of global ageism, citing a quote from the World Health Organization (WHO), calling ageism "the most socially acceptable prejudice in the world."

What are we Boomers to think when the media, advertisers, employers and others marginalize us and discriminate against us for growing older? I have a theory about all of this, and it may sound a bit cynical. I believe American society is generally predisposed to accept and embrace youthfulness and shun growing older. We've been conditioned to it through the media. Magazine articles focus mostly on younger celebrities. Mainstream television shows and movies are youth-oriented, and older actors find it tough to get major roles. Advertising either emphasizes youth or peddles pharmaceuticals and adult diaper products to Boomer audiences in a condescending manner.

What is covered in the media is a reflection of society's values. If the media ignores Boomers, or worse, derides us, then one has to wonder whether we are valued in American society. We can only hope that such attitudes toward aging will change as more Americans age. Hopefully, they will realize that getting older is not "bad" -- it's an inevitable part of everyone's life.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Image: Ambro, Freedigitalphotos.net

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS