Advertising Connections to Baby Boomers

Mark Solon, former President of the Board of Directors of the Discovery Center of Idaho, currently serves on the Idaho Business Coalition for Education Excellence. These four men, along with six others noted on their Web site, manage TopTenREVIEWS, Inc. (“Cell phone providers,” 2008). The following four categories denote criteria TopTenREVIEW used to evaluate cell phone providers:

Feature Set:…variety of options, including call waiting, call forwarding, Bluetooth (internet connectivity), text messaging and more.

Service Area on-Network:…coverage areas, including nationwide coverage. Minutes: A good cell phone provider should offer plans with a good minute-to-dollar ratio. Overage charges should be minimal, and the cell phone plan should offer free mobile-to-mobile minutes, free long distance and similar features.

Help/Support Options: Cell phone providers should offer extensive support, including phone support, an online FAQs page, live chat and an email contact address. (“Cell phone providers,” 2008)

Four of the 10 companies noted and reviewed by TopTenREVIEWS (2008) included Verizon, at&T,

Mobile, and Sprint Nextel. TopTenREVIEWS ratings reflect cell phone providers:




Features] included in basic land

Help and support

Cell Phone Selection

Considerations Regarding Minutes/Features:

Free Nights and Weekend Minutes

Mobile to Mobile Minutes

Rollover Minutes

Free Incoming Minutes

Unlimited Minutes Option

Text Messaging

Unlimited Text Option

Does Not Round Minutes Up

Coverage Area

Check Minutes

Check Texts

Roadside Assistance

Other Considerations:

Plan Fees

Features Included in Basic Plan

Help and Support

Cell Phone Selection

Roaming Charges

Activation Fee

Contract Length

Early Termination Fee

Days to Return Phone & Cancel Service. (“Cell phone providers,” 2008) (adapted from Appendix B)

TV Commercials

Boomers Knowledge

Boomers diverse backgrounds, along with the fact individuals in this group have already survived a number of tough times, albeit, equip them to assess todays uncertain economic times with knowledge of what it takes to survive. Boomers have watched advertising advance through various stages of its “revolutionary development” as it utilized a number of unique and ordinary attempts to influence consumer choices. Companies or advertisers that do not understand Baby Boomers, Nyren (2005) argues in his book, Advertising to Baby Boomers, face future failures in business. Because they grew up with advertising, Boomers know the advertising field and are sophisticated regarding advertisers tactics. The contemporary economic climate in the U.S. mandates that businesses successfully communicate with their customers to grow and survive. To enhance and effectively utilize success of advertisements, particularly in TV advertisements, and better connect with Boomers, the largest and wealthiest group in America; in their quests for more certain fiscal futures, businesses must ensure their advertisements relate in ways that foster trust and honesty. Too frequently, like the proverbial “double-edged sword,” the ads net some interest, yet simultaneously, at times actually alienate Boomers. For businesses to survive, they must be able to market to this group without offending them.

The “Mainstreaming” Effect During their study, Kim and Lowry (2005) examined a sampling of prime-time TV commercials, and also included repeat advertisements, which numerous past studies, conducted in countries other than the U.S., did not include. Within the framework of cultivation theory, the Kim and Lowry (2005) stress they believe repeat impressions prove vital and ought to be included. Prior studies “conducted in different countries, and different countries have different cultural expectations and norm,” (Discussion ¶ 7).the authors noted, nevertheless some representative categories and methods, warrant numerous comparisons. Kim and Lowry (2005) report that “the content universe for this study consisted of prime-time programming (7:00-10:00 P.M.) from 7 January through 3 February 2001, a total of 28 days” (Method ¶ 1). Participants viewed programming created for a general audience on five Southern Korean major television networks; with the regional and commercial-free networks excluded. These networks prove equivalent channel to the U.S.s four major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.) to collect data, Kim and Lowry (2005) utilized a stratified sampling method. Other specifics for this study included:

Samples of 4 days (3 h per day) from each week were randomly selected and videotaped to construct four sample weeks. Advertisements for television shows, movie promotions, and public service announcements were not included in the samples. Commercials that contained only children, animals, or cartoon (fantasy) characters were also excluded. After those deletions, a net sample of 878 advertisements was available for analysis. Although many past studies excluded repeat advertisements, we included all repeat advertisements, because our study was designed to see how frequently stereotypical images of women were represented in television advertisements.

This approach is based on cultivation theory, as each advertisement creates another “impression.” (Kim and Lowry, 2005, Method¶ 2).

From the study, Kim and Lowry (2005) report research reveals that one area in which TV commercials influence individuals includes broadcasting formulaic depictions of societal gender roles; with the mainstreaming effect serving to decrease numerous differences among TV viewers. Some elderly heavy television commercial viewers more likely than viewers who watch fewer commercials “perceive characters (e.g., the elderly) in commercials as realistic (i.e., mainstreaming effect)” (Discussion ¶ 5). Even TV viewers who claim commercials do not adversely affect them, Kim and Lowry (2005) cite Gunther and Thorson (1992) to contend, when they view images over and over in television advertising, as cultivation theory suggests, this potentially creates a “mainstreaming effect.” Due to this commercial side affect, advertisers who may not accept the responsibility to present statistically accurate societal images, albeit are responsible to portray changes in perceived societal stereotypes Kim and Lowry, 2005, Discussion ¶ 6).

Underlying Messages Matter Despite potential profitable advertising for Boomers, however, the marketing community virtually ignores the value that effective communication with this consumer group represents (Stroud, 2007, p. 2).

In CitiBank fraud advertising, for example, a TV commercial depicts younger cyber thieves victimizing older Americans. Some contend the “underlying message of the ads is that older people are more susceptible to fraud than younger people because Boomers arent as competent in the digital era” (Harris and Edelman, 2006, p. 7).

Boomers Frontal Lobes Targeted in “My brain on car commercials; Exploring the gray matter of auto marketing,” Mary Connelly (2007) purports that future reports marketers could dread to hear could include: “No frontal activation” (Crash may not last ¶4).

Success in advertising, according to Connelly (2007) relates to effective catering to a persons frontal lobe. Neurological marketing, the technique, Steve Sands, a brain researcher developed, utilizes: “cognitive neuroscience equipment and software used in more than 3,000 labs around the world” to “study consumers brain waves so as to make TV commercials more effective” (Connelly, 2007, ¶2).

Connelly (2007) reports that clients of Sands company, Sands Research, located in El Paso, Texas, currently include Coors and Burger King. In the future, according to this resource, commercials may be crafted to light a Boomers frontal lobe.

Effective Advertising Tactics and Strategies

Shah (2008) cites Richard Robbins from Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism to note the following regarding advertisings history in the U.S.:

The goal of the advertisers was to aggressively shape consumer desires and create value in commodities by imbuing them with the power to transform the consumer into a more desirable person…. In 1880, only $30 million was invested in advertising in the United States; by 1910, new businesses, such as oil, food, electricity and rubber, were spending $600 million, or 4% of the national income, on advertising. Today that figure has climbed to well over $120 billion in the United States and to over $250 billion worldwide. (Shah, 2008, para. 21)

Waldman (2008) a staff writer for TelevisionWeek, notes that “the baby boomer demographic… has come to be known as the TV generation” (para. 1). He reports that Steve French, a managing partner of the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), stresses the spending power that Boomers possess and are expected to continue to have in the future merits marketing attentions. Boomers buying power reportedly amounts to more than $2 trillion annually. French points out, however, that Boomers buying patterns will change and notes that luxury, albeit, sensible in a sense, will serve as a potent future market for Boomers.

Businesses may appeal to the following five generations living in the U.S. today:

The G.I. Generation,

The Silents,

Baby Boomers,

Generation X and the Millennials. (Clack, 2004, para.2)

Knowing and practicing generational strategy proves not only vital to a businesss success, Chuck Underwood, principal & founder of Cincinnati, Ohio-based company, the Generational Imperative, Inc., a research-driven generational consultancy, stresses – but critical. In their advertising ventures, businesses need to clearly understand and pinpoint exactly what motivates each of these groups as differences significantly contribute to consumers buying practices. Understanding key differences between generations helps businesses better personalize and market their products to particular groups (Clack, 2004, paras. 2-5). Contemporary Environmental Connections

In “The Environment: Its Not Time to Relax,” Paul D. Christensen (1995) notes that throughout history, the primary factors determining consumers purchasing.


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