Rebranding ‘Baby Boomer’
Ok. Let’s start by putting it all out there. Full disclosure. No secrets between us.
I ain’t no spring chicken. In fact, I’m pretty much past summer and into autumn. (Exhibit A: My forest of thick, wavy brown hair is starting to resemble a drone shot of Arctic snow drifts.)
During my lengthy career in the advertising and marketing biz, I’ve been a witness to incredible change:
From the days when switching fonts on a page required replacing the interchangeable type ball on your IBM Selectric...to a MacBook with more computing power than every Apollo spacecraft combined.
From the time when cutting a radio spot literally involved an audio engineer wielding a razor blade...to the wonder that is ProTools 12.
From being politely informed by a director after he shoots 14 variations for his reel after I said I was happy 14 takes ago, “We’ve only got 500 feet of film left and 5 more scenes to shoot. What do you want to cut?”...to the creative and budgetary freedom of limitless digital abundance.
But before this blog turns into a lengthy, lurid personal memoir, let me get to the point.
One major aspect of marketing hasn’t changed. From the beginning of time, our industry has had a penchant for grouping things. Especially people. It makes them easier to identify and categorize. And to more effectively target for our clients. We can break them down into sub-subcategories of subcategories. Left handed women golfers who prefer crunchy peanut butter.
One of the simplest and most common methods of grouping people is by generation, as in Baby Boomer, Generation X, Generation Y and Millennials.
My contemporaries and I fall into the first group: Baby Boomers.
And that’s where the problem arises.
Not to go all Larry David on you here but…
I hate the name.
I had no voice in this. No say whatsoever. I was not given a list to choose from. I was not invited to the convention where all this was voted on. And I’m not happy about it. Had I been a member of the selection committee when Baby Boomer was presented, I would have sent the creative team back to the drawing board. (Side note for younger readers: A drawing board was a flat surface where artists with incredible hand skills sat and created amazing graphics using tools called pencils, markers and Xacto knives. Google it.)
Meanwhile, back at my point…
What is a Baby Boomer anyway? A very small cannon? The offspring of an OU cheerleader? Unless you’re playing the female lead in Dirty Dancing, Baby is not considered a desirable moniker. And a boom is historically followed by a bust.
If “Baby Boomer” was a product and its parent company engaged the services of the team here at Texas Creative to develop a marketing strategy, our brand discovery process would reveal the following: the name is dated, old, tired. It conjures up images of 1950’s black and white ‘Duck and Cover’ atomic bomb training films and stoned hippies sliding naked in the mud at Woodstock. (Another side note to GenX’ers: Those are your parents.) The Boomer brand personality is akin to your weird Uncle Ralph. The brand voice is raspy. Put ‘Baby Boomer’ on the shelf next to the coolness of ‘Generations X & Y’ and ‘Millennial’ and chart the sales. Boomer would be a very small slice of the pie. Mostly crust and crumbs.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m very proud of my generation. While it’s a lame name, you can’t deny the incredible accomplishments of the Boomers. They will one day be heralded as the most transformative generation in history. (Footnote: Personal opinion…but backed by some very strong evidence.) Baby Boomers pioneered the digital technology revolution. Just reflecting on the advances set in motion by their entrepreneurial and inventive spirit is mind boggling. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are in the club. Which means the train the younger generations are riding on is pretty much traveling on their tracks.
Inc. Magazine recently published an article pointing out the danger American enterprise is facing by the inevitable loss of the Baby Boomers as leaders of business and industry. “…it is only a matter of time before this entire generation has gone, taking their skills, knowledge and experience out of the workforce.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2018, 25% of the workforce will be 55 and older. If my math is right, (a rare occurrence) that also means 75% of the workforce will not be. Bottom line: While still in control, we Baby Boomers are vastly outnumbered and dwindling fast.
But the net/net? The future is in extremely good hands.
I consider myself a very fortunate person. Not only have I had a front row seat to the entire evolution of digital technology, I (along with millions of my colleagues) have embraced it. But we also understand that while technology has created incredibly powerful tools, it hasn’t replaced the human brain (yet). Success in this business still requires thought, reasoning and ingenuity. In short, ideas.
I have the privilege of plying my trade with a group that encourages and nurtures a true intergenerational workplace. We embrace the talent, knowledge and wisdom of our senior staff and combine it with the energy, exuberance, drive, expectations and technological skill set of our younger team members. We bridge age and reference gaps with a great deal of respect (except for that one punk who keeps asking me if I fought in World War II. Yeah, you know who you are.) The true winners are our clients. They’re the recipients of strong, innovative marketing solutions derived from our team’s collective experience.
So, here’s the new reality (And I mean real reality. Not augmented or virtual.) I’m proud to carry the flag of my generation into the daily battles of business. But the name that’s on it? Not so much.
So as of right now, today, this very minute, I’m planting a new flag and starting a movement to officially rebrand my generation.
Ladies and gentlemen. Introducing the Perennials.
(Pause for applause.)
Perennial: Lasting for an indefinitely long time; present at all seasons of the year: enduring; perpetual; everlasting; continuing without interruption; recurrent.
According to Pew Research, there are 74.9 million of us. So, I only need to get 37,450,001 votes to make it happen. You in?