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The Man Cave Vol 29

December 6, 2013

If your favourite James Bond is still Sean Connery, then you must be a Boomer.

Big Data, a phrase that has been in the news recently, is the science of tracking, predicting, and rewarding consumers for their behaviour. Major retailers treat this as a way to understand their customers, target their advertising dollars, and build brand loyalty. 

Spy agencies are using this technology, and probably belong on the bleeding edge of the collection process. The amount of data available, or better said, the amount of data we make public, is astonishing. Aside from our cell calls, all of our email and internet searches are also available for collection and manipulation. The argument gets to be what should remain secret, and what do we assume everyone can have access to. Its always amazing to hear Facebook users complain about their information being shared, when they put their stuff on a sharing service in the first place. In any case, Boomers still have major concerns about privacy and their personal information being stolen. That’s why we will still see checking accounts, phone banking, and cash used by the older generation whenever possible. One could say that its okay for the our kids to use the latest internet apps because they have no assets to be stolen. Identity theft is an age phenomena.

Retailers are jumping on this technology because the regular way to effectively target customers is becoming more difficult. Just look at TV advertising as an example. As people have more choice of channels to watch, advertisers can not spend more money chasing fewer views. While this is their problem to ponder, Boomers have made it much more difficult by sitting in their hi tech basements, scanning the universe without leaving their chairs. Its almost a game of cat and mouse, one that I particularly enjoy playing.

Difficult is probably the right word. Boomers, by definition, have seen 50 Superbowls, seen every type of ending, and realize that even new movies are retreads of past ideas. Northrop Frye, a great Canadian philosopher, once said that there has not been an original idea since Christ’s time. I was not sure I understood the meaning of this, until I saw the original Top Gun movie. Not the Tom Cruise one, but the movie from the 40’s, starring Robert Mitchum, among others. Yes, Top Gun was a rip-off.

Not an original thought since 0 AD. Imagine the implications ?  What really is a conservative then ?  A question needing another blog.

So, how do advertisers reach in and grab you ? Do we look at the car commercials for ideas ? Boomers are starting to buy sports cars, as some enter their rewards phrase. Perhaps we substitute the big breast shots for a couple of pictures of technology helping cope with the climate changing.

Do we imbed the cruise pitches with scenes of excursions where, for a day, tourists help build a school on some poor island ? Enjoy the weather, and work on your emotional suntan. Maybe dinner will taste better after a little volunteerism ?

Is there a tag between green technology and paying more for the future ? This one will be hard to pitch as money and Boomers will be exceedingly increasingly difficult to separate. Solar power and batteries are the way of the future, but the timeframe is still 20 years away. How do we increase the amount of early adapters for the things that will make the planet a better place ? Perhaps pushing the next generation to change their parents is the way to go.

How do we do it ? What could we possibly say that will get Boomers to realize that they are not retiring, just entering a new phrase. How do we surface our ideas in a media universe that is so all encompassing ? How do we get the Boomer glaze off their bellies and up into the future, over the next mountain top ?

My real fear is that the Boomers will awaken angry. They will see pension attacks on their retirement income, and resort to multiple defensive stances. Things like education and social services will come under pressure to be cut, so that Boomers can get what they figure is their birthright. A short term view to be sure, but hard to change once its imbedded.

What about health care ? After a life time of calories, obese Boomers will face unprecedented doctors bills. Can you imagine every Boomer needing a new knee or hip replacement ? I can. Heart pills, stents, cancers, and defensive medicine will be the watchword, and expensive. Paying extra for a plane seat if you are overweight is just the tip of this iceberg.

In a sense, we will need to show that the pain, or passion, has to be shared by everyone. Passion is my favourite word today, as I think Boomers are losing their ability to get excited, look long-term ( a sign of cultural intelligence ), and sacrifice. The ME generation indeed.

So, send me your ideas as to how we puncture the chaos and atrophy surrounding us ? Remember, be positive, and joyful in your comments, as Boomers know all about negative adds, cynical appeals, and hollow threats. There is no doubt that the conditioning we have received from decades of advertising has left us jaded.

Next week, on Boomers – wtf!,  lets discuss your responses.

  1. Tom: It sure takes you a lot of words to bitch about growing older. You have to learn to grow older with dignity–like older people you know,

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