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8 Mainstream Brands that Made 2015 a Pivotal Year in Boomer  Marketing

Campaigns that Got it Right

Not long ago, examples of good mainstream marketing to Boomers were hard to come by. Not so in 2015. From fashion to cars to pet food, brands solicited Boomer business with ads that ran across a variety of media, including TV, magazines and online. These campaigns weren’t always placed in media that efficiently reached older consumers — which Millennial decided to run a Boomer-targeted commercial on "The Mindy Project"? — but one step at a time, right?

For now, let’s give credit where it is due. Several brands created ads meant to strike a chord with Boomers in 2015. Here are eight highlights:

#1 Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind “Lady” TV Commercial

A Boomer couple feeds Purina’s Bright Mind dog food to Lady, their beloved 10-year-old dog who just isn’t herself due to brain aging. After 30 days, the couple is emotionally moved by Lady’s improvement. She’s more alert, has a brighter look to her eyes, and even wants to learn new things. Purina leveraged two Boomer trends—the importance of pets in empty-nester households, and Boomer’s heightened interest in brain health and performance—to resonate with pet owners of a certain age who are caring for pets of a certain age.

#2 Angel Soft “Grander Parents” YouTube Video

This video tells the story of a Boomer couple raising their granddaughter while their son serves a prison sentence. “We envisioned just spending ‘us’ time … just the two of us … well, that dream’s gone,” says the grandmother. Despite its challenges, this unexpected “grandparent as parent” role is one the couple loves and embraces. It’s a role that many Boomers fulfill for a variety of reasons. Angel Soft effectively honors this role and gives voice to those who serve it.

#3 Mazda CX-5 Magazine Ad

The median age of the Mazda CX-5 buyer is 52 years, so it’s no surprise that Mazda chose Penn and Teller, Boomer-age magicians who first came to fame in the late ’70s, to promote their latest model. The print ad’s headline, “Defy Convention and You Can Defy Belief,” speaks directly to Boomers’ lifelong priority of doing things differently. The ad’s copy provides the performance detail that Boomers require before making purchases and includes a reasonable purchase price, which will resonate with older consumers who demand high performance without excessive cost. 

#4 Miller Lite “Dwelling in the Past” TV Commercial

In Troy Aikman, Miller Lite has found a celebrity with cross-generational appeal. The ex-Cowboys quarterback appears in a humorous TV spot mocking him for dwelling on past glories. The irony here is that Aikman is still at the top of his game, now as a Fox sportscaster announcing football games, among other media gigs. His work on the field made him a hero to many Boomers, and his work as a sportscaster makes him a favorite among younger generations as well.

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#5 GEICO “Peter Pan Reunion” TV Commercial

GEICO’s new TV spot is targeted to Boomers on the verge of turning 70. The setting is a 50th high school reunion, featuring actors in their late 60s and Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young,” a nod to Boomers’ desire to stay youthful just as they begin entering their eighth decade of life.

#6 Lands’ End “Supima for Now, for Always” Email Campaign, and #7 UNTUCKit Sponsored Facebook Ad

Fashion brands, Lands’ End and UNTUCKit, both chose highly targeted digital avenues to deliver ads that feature attractive, smiling, 50-somethings with just enough gray hair and wrinkles to identify them as Boomers. These are prime examples of aspirational advertising that makes Boomers feel good about being youthful in their middle-aged years.

#8 Dodge “Wisdom” TV Commercial

The commercial begins with soft music in the background as centenarians share well-worn wisdom along the lines of “life is good.” Midway through, the music surges, we see the centenarians laughing rebelliously and menacingly, and encouraging younger folks to “tell it like it is,” “don’t bitch,” and “live fast.” The commercial ends with the text, “You learn a lot in 100 years.” It’s a true celebration of vitality at any age, and serves as a reminder to Boomers they have another 30 to 50 years to “put the pedal to the metal.”

We should applaud the efforts of these brands, and others like them, who realize that targeting today’s dominant consumer generation just makes good business sense. While significant advancements in Boomer advertising creative were apparent in 2015, it’s now time for brands to focus on marketing strategies that optimize campaign visibility among older consumers.