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« The Marketing Power of Stories | Main | More on Ameriprise's Misreading of Boomers »

April 26, 2006



Money is a sensitive subject, especially when it comes to investment planning.

It is also a major painpoint for many, and an uncomforting subject, when people are not in tune with investment and insurance products.

Seems like Fidelity locked up Paul, the only rock icon, who can make one feel better about a financial services firm.

Rock and Roll, and Investment Planning, are not a match made for each other, even if Mick went to the London School of Economics.

Schwab has done real well with their Talk To Chuck campaign, so their are good lessons in here from you and Schwab for us all.

Chuck Nyren

I've been writing about this since October:

October 2005 Post .

And I wrote about it again - as have some other folks (follow the links once you get there.

April 2006 Post

And there's more (check the More In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidapost on my blog.

Pure pandering.

Jenni Lukac

David, your site is great!

I work in the second home real estate market in Spain which is fast becoming Europe´s retirement home. Spain´s tourism and real estate market was created by the European baby boomers, but has not matured with them. The boom is over and the boomers are not taken into account. Spain is no longer a cheap destination. Tourism, real estate and all related services no longer mean easy money, but it´s very hard to convince people that their marketing, which has not changed, is way off the mark. There is a tremendous opportunity here for people who would be the first out of the gate with solid campaigns.

The biggest black hole is with the "roamers" - not yet retired but no longer guzzling sangria on the beach. That´s what I see in these Amerprise ads - the black hole that advertising reserves for this market, between who (some of them) were and who they will be in some indistinct future.


"...we use different brain sites and processes in reacting to hypothetical propositions than when we are operating in a real life, real time scenario."

Would that more people who prepare adverising to which they hope I'll respond, would read the above a bit more carefully when they consider the results of their focus groups in relation to other considerations about how to shape their ads.

Of course, this has implications for many other areas other than advertising, but won't try to go there here. Do you have a specific link for that statement?

David Porter

When I saw the Ameriprise ad, I pushed fast forward on my Tivo!

I agree, talk to me about my future not my past!

Katharine Coles

First, their statement to the effect: "Back then you probably weren't thinking about your financial security." Has NOTHING to do with "our generation" ... my 19 year old daughter isn't thinking about her financial security either.

Secondly, they talk about the 'new generation in financial investors' ... but never really say what is new about what they are offering. There's not even a real MESSAGE here. One ad did mention one-on-one, personal service. THAT'S new??

Chuck Nyren

It's getting worse.

I was flipping through Costco magazine and there was an Ameriprise ad. The small picture: two kids, six or seven years old, circa 1955, wearing paper hats and playing with wooden swords.

The copy: Retirement is like a second childhood. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Gee ... at least in the TV ads we are late teenagers, young adults. Now we're 2nd graders playing pirates.

Read David's book. These creatives are confusing later stages of life with dementia.

(My prediction for Ameriprise's next ad: Picture of a baby drooling. The copy reads, "You drooled when you were six months old. Now that you're sixty, you're drooling again. Let us manage your money so you'll be able to afford hankies.")


I think the real problem with the ads is that they would require the boomers to be able to laugh at themselves - and clearly from the chatter on this blog, that this not a possibility.



First I'm not a boomer -- I'm a member of the so-called "Silent Generation." I don't think it's a matter of boomers commenting on this post not being able to laugh at themselves. It is a matter of being pandered to. Few people tolerate pandering. Beyond that, the commercials commit one of the cardinal sins of marketing: The Sin of Irrelevance. They reflect full-bodied lack of understanding of what aging boomers' worldviews are as well as what their meta needs are -- and believe me, after 25 years in working in marketing to second half consumers I can testify to the idea that marketing that connects with the meta needs of older consumers is often more effective than connecting with the more superficial functional needs.

Thanks for your comment. I'd love to see how others react to your thoughts.





I loved you take on the Ameriprise ads. Have patience. Truth will ultimately prevail. I only hope I'm still alive to enjoy that day.


Yvonne DiVita

I like the ads. They don't impress me enough to choose Ameriprise...but then, I'm a woman boomer - those ads are clearly focused on men. So, I watch'em for their entertainment value. When it comes to marketing to boomers, it pays to think gender. Women influence over 80% of the goods and services in this country and - well - we're tired of dealing with men (and companies) that talk down to us. These commercials, fun as they are, don't speak to me. Show me women helping other women -- or women and men working together -- and you might get my attention.

BTW, I didn't think of those commercials as "pandering" until you mentioned it here, David. They were just TV commercials. Seems to me, in my humble opinion, ALL TV commericals pander their audience.



Isn't it astonishing that far and away most ads for financial services are directed toward men? And how few are directed to single women?


Chuck Nyren

Here's a good one targeting women:

Hello Future


My husband got pulled in by one of their advisers in Costco. Knowing of Ameriprise only through the sad ad on TV, I looked them up on the web and found a site called,... It seems more than their commercials are out of touch.



Thanks for the tip on I did visit it. Good example of how the Internet has shifted the balance of information power toward the masses.



It is important to note that is primarily former employees, and almost every financial firm in the US has some sort of equivalant "hate" site.


.....almost every financial firm in the US has some sort of equivalant "hate" site.

Boy...that alone says volumes about the sate of corporate/worker disconnect!


Um.. not really. Just by volume, if you have a large corporation, you will have a certain number of disgruntled employees.

The financial industry is also one of the highest paid industries, but it is also one of (if not the) most competitive. Most competive = high failure rate. Alot of people fail, so you have a higher number of disgruntled employees, who then (for the first time) have the internet to act as a unified sounding board.

So, no. I do not think that speaks volumes on anything. What is this corporate/worker disconnect? Did you just think that up?


Take a look at the more factual comments at
( as a side note- I would suggest anyone seeking to do business look at a company's comments to investors and the SEC, NOT just their ads and sales literature).

The web as a medium has made factual information easiet to get and the focus should now be on making sure that potential customers can make rational decisions. Emotional appeals and branding may still have a place but factual criticisms, unanswered, could be a bigger factor. When people have an intent to buy, a simple internet search can turn up lots of bad things. The tops hits on google are critical sites.


Yes, let's take a look at some of the comments about Ameriprise, shall we?

Hmm...doesn't seem too critical, and last time I checked, Barrons is well-respected...unlike some of these jokers on "amexsux" and the yahoo message boards.

Of course we could always ask their biggest shareholder what he thinks of the company... Warren Buffet only invests in companies he personally believes in.

Point is, you will always find someone to hate... if you want a truly balanced view, get a fair sample of information from a variety of sources... and if you really want to know what Ameriprise is about, talk to someone who is there- ask the tough questions- see what they say.

Or, you could read some whiny crybabies with very little perspective on how the financial world operates and take that as "unbiased" advice...

I should know, I'm a client at Ameriprise, and I'm completely satisfied with my experience. Oh, and by the way, I met an advisor at Costco as well...


The critical comments on the sites are illustrated with citations to the SEC and other credible sources. The one client's experience is explained on the yahoo site as being consistent with disclosed incentives to the AMP "advisors." It also is consistent with allegations and settlements with SEC or NASD ( I'd have to look up details but you can go to the respective sites).

The Barron's article is great but doesn't address any of these concerns. They talked to an AMP officer and compared the stock to some peers. It wasn't an investigative piece by any means- how did they mention the SEC actions or advisor incentives?

Read the critical pieces, look up the SEC filings, and talk to AMP clients.

In any case, a few disgruntled people can use the web effectively and there needs to be a mechanism to get the truth out. In this case, I believe the critics are right and advertisers are not used to going interactive.
I think AMP, if they are in the right on this, could publish client return statistics- that would prety much deflate the bashers' arguments. Factual rebuttal is probably going to be more important to advertisers than catchy music.


Also, while this forum is not about investing or AMP as a company, I should point out that their recent buyback consisted of repurchasing a large block of Buffet's shares- see the SEC filings. They didn't advertise that their share buyback was largely not on the open market, available to raise the price for all holders, but essentially an opportunity for Buffet to sell without depressing the share price.
Offhand, this looks like another case of favoritism where a few people benefit at the expense of the "mass affluent" that AMP claims to target.
If you want to discuss this aspect of the company as the other poster suggests, I encourage you to go to yahoo- especially if you are new to investing and have talked with an AMP rep. Critics such as us can help you find indepedent information to assess the AMP products.


Actually, it looks like AMP has taken to the web equivalent of "brand proliferation" to help mask the problem- probably not intentional but you can see the clutter. It looks like there are 100's of amp related domains now:

Still, the wiki and sux sites rank pretty high.

Jay Gilbert

I completely agree with you. Those ads, now with Dennis Hopper, are extremely shallow and insulting. I am a Gen X financial planner who helps boomers by treating them like people, not a cliche.

Ivan Rasskazov

I find it interesting how many of your comments here are directed in pointing out how "a doer of deeds stumbled or a strong man showed weakness." Yet none of you understood two simple things:

1). These are commercials and all commercials pander to a certain audience.

2). For those of you who visited amexsuck or whatever website must also realize all companies have their share of issues. Let me tell you I have been with a few advisors with other firms, and for its problems, Ameriprise is far better then the rest.

Then again you wouldn't know that because you prefer to judge what you have never tried. *Shrug

Btw, the point about the women not being focused on is a good one, however.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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