Super Bowl Sunday: Madison Avenue on parade
With its mega audiences, the Super Bowl is the showcase for brands and ad agencies to strut their creative stuff. Each year, countless media stories and columns are devoted to picking winners and losers among Madison Avenue’s exciting offerings.
No one ever strutted better stuff than the Chiat/Day 1984 commercial launching Apple Macintosh in, of course, 1984 (full disclosure: your humble scribe consulted with C/D back in the day – cars, not for Mac. Bought one, though).
True to the old adage it’s not creative unless it sells, the 1984 spot was phenomenally successful at generating sales.
Agencies hoping to replicate 1984 memorability will have to ante up $10 million for the privilege – a 30 second spot this year runs around $5 million, and Macintosh spent a full minute to tell its story.
The Boomer-Plus audience: the largest Super Bowl viewer generation
All this money changes hands because, over the decades, the Super Bowl became the most-watched television show of the year.
In 2015 it topped out at 114.4 million viewers (Nielsen); at 125 million, only the farewell episode of M*A*S*H (1983) had more. Experts are predicting a new Super Bowl record for 2016; it’s possible Nielsen’s US in-home TV audience could be close to 120 million.
The rule of thumb is the 18-49 demo dominates mainstream brand targeting. So, for conventional thinkers, 57 million viewers is a bonanza. Yee-hah!
For disruptives, another statistic is even more fascinating – and appropriate as the Super Bowl observes its fiftieth birthday. At around 45 million, Boomer-Plus consumers who have passed their own fiftieth birthday represent the largest viewing generation of all.
Boomer Appreciation Day: celebrity spokes-geezers rule
Many Super Bowl 50 ads hope to break through the clutter by using celebrities; 18 of 42 commercials previewed at SuperBowlCommercials2016.org feature well-known entertainers or athletes.
And with good reason; the right celebrity can work wonders for a brand.
Last May we reported Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan shared top honors as the most influential and likable, with Dennis Haysbert, Jeff Bridges and J. K. Simmons also among the top ten spokespersons (Nielsen).
There’s just one catch: all are aged 60-plus – a decade past the 18-49 demographic – and, according to Mad Men folklore, too old to be targets for the brands they promote. But, despite this outdated theory, the power of, ahem, spokes-geezers isn’t lost on adland.
Of the eighteen Super Bowl 50 ads using celebrities, eleven (61%) feature someone over the age of – wait for it – not just 50, but 60. In fact, three involve actors over age 70!
And none – repeat, none – promote geriatric products; they all represent mainstream brands. It’s the one day a year when Boomer-Plus characters are depicted as we see ourselves; fun, interesting, in charge and active.
- Alec Baldwin and Dan Marino for Amazon Echo
- Arnold Schwarzenegger for Mobile Strike
- Christopher Walken for Kia
- Harvey Keitel for MINI
- Helen Mirren for Budweiser
- Anthony Hopkins for Turbo Tax
- Jeff Goldblum for Apartments.com
- Liam Neeson for LG
- Scott Baio for Avocados from Mexico
- Steven Tyler for Skittles
- Willem Dafoe for Snickers
Kudos to the creative teams.
None of these ads use clumsy Boomer stereotypes – grumpy “get off my lawn” curmudgeons, old hippies, befuddled techno-dolts or, worse, pathetic relics. OK, there are a few cringe-worthy moments in the general Super Bowl 50 batch, but we won’t go there.
Boomers grew up with the Super Bowl
The first Super Bowl was held in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 15, 1967; the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs handily, 35-10.
Five out of six TV households saw the game in black and white – color set penetration was only 17%. No one could tweet, Pin, Snapchat or Instagram. And gloating Packers fans could only send selfies – aka Polaroids – to KC rivals via the US Postal Service.
On the upside, embarrassed parents didn’t have to cover their little kids’ eyes during the half time show.
A lot has happened in the meantime. A whole heck of a lot. And Boomers adapted every step of the way, year in and year out.
Consider that 1984 Macintosh commercial for example.
Apple founders Steve Jobs (b. 1955) and Steve Wozniak (b. 1950) relied heavily on fellow Boomers for success. Ever-adaptable and future-friendly, our early adoption helped Mac jump the chasm and usher in 21st century thinking.
Since then Boomers supported a dazzling array of tech innovations – cell phones, the Internet, e-mobility and green energy, to name a few.
So, it defies common sense that after the last play of Super Bowl 50 is done, Madison Avenue will revert to 1967 thinking:
Consumers over 50 just aren’t worth targeting or depicting in ads because they no longer adapt, switch brands or adopt new buying behaviors.
And, anyway, oldsters taint brand image and frighten young buyers away.
Free advice: don’t tell Arnold to his face.
Fortunately, at the Boomer-Plus Consulting Group, every day is Super Bowl Sunday. Kick off here to learn how to break the mold and engage the 50+ space all year.
You know, think different. Grab a hammer and break something.