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« Ameriprise Doesn't Get It | Main | New Discount Code for Posit Science Brain Development Program »

April 27, 2006


Chuck Nyren

David -

It's always fun and enlightening absorbing your erudite postings.

There is parallel story, actually a 'back story' to all this - and it's not a mutually exclusive one when set side-by side with what we've all been saying about the Ameriprise campaign.

The ad agency responsible for it is very much into creating 'love' for their client's products. This works fine for products that are already loved (key word: already) - like Cheerios or the Pillsbury Doughboy (and all you have said about New Balance). If your product is already 'loved' - then build on it.

The problem is that you can't create love out of thin air. If you try to, you're pandering. New Balance, for example, doesn't pander - because over the years people have fallen in love with the product. NB has built on that love. Nike isn't really loved - so they build on the status symbol/performace image of their products.

And many products really don't need to be 'loved.' Why you would, for no reason, immediately 'love' a financial planning company is beyond me. You might fall in love with them after five or ten years - or hate them in five or ten years - but that's not really the point if you're trying to reel in new clients for a new company.

Your readers can google "lovemarks" if they want to know a little about this advertising philosophy/technique. It's not a bad philosophy/technique for some campaigns - but hardly one you would use for this particular product/service.

Atare E. Agbamu

David --

Even worse is the presumption of gullibility that informed the creation of these ads. I like "boomerese." Good post.

-- Atare

Lauren Edwards

At first glance these ads are inspirational - but that's coming from someone who is NOT a boomer - I'm Gen X. It is so clear that these have been dreamed up by young creatives that relate to the hip, cool 60's & 70's. They just can't relate to being 40+. Easy trap to fall into and as Chuck says, you can teach younger people to understand the older generations, it's just a much more difficult job for them to actually relate - that's why our CD is 58! He would never create such pandering commercials, and he plays lead guitar!

Johnny Silverman

This doesn't sound like fair analysis, you just sound like a bitter person over the age of 40. I think the commercials are brilliant, they are colorful and imaganitive and bring a little life and excitement to the boring world of annuities and insurance policies.



Did you really mean it when you said, "you just sound like a bitter person over the age of 40"?

Ad hominum attacks like that do not substitute for honest intellectual differences. Just to let you know where I'm at in life, I'm 73. And I'm have the greatest time of my life. I travel around the world on client's nickels, getting well paid over and above expenses. I just had a physical and passed with flying colors. I have the blood pressure of a young man. My eyesight is correctible to 20-20 and I love running with my dogs. I have six great children and 14 grandchildren who are sterling examples of good parenting by the five kids of mine who are married.

I love my garden and my two dogs and two cats -- oh, and also my wife. I have just consumated a rather large deal that will make my heirs happy if I don't live too long. But hey, I plan to be around for quite awhile and have no plans to ever retire. How could life be better.

No, Johnny, I'm not bitter. Like most of my friends around my age, I have zero interest in turning back the clock -- no, that's not denial; it's a realistic awareness that life has gotten easier to manage as the years have added up.

If you have any interest in examining how most old people feel and why they feel the way they do I recommend Gene Cohen's new book, "The Mature Mind," and Elkhonon Goldberg's "The Wisdom Paradox."

I have not talked with one older boomer who thinks the Ameriprise ads are brillian (see other comments above). Sure, law of averages says there are some out their that like them -- but my sense is that most older boomers have seen through those ads as pandering nonsense that fails to connect with the deeper realms of their psyches.

Ego sum erat -- I am where you will be. I hope when you are my age your life will be as full and pleasurable as mine is.


Molllie Foti

Frankly, I don't pay much attention to commercials, even those that are supposedly targeted to "my" demographic. I've lived through WWII, the Korean war, the sexual revolution, civil rights marches, ERA, and all the rest. So, been there, done that, but not looking back! Too much to see and do right now. I'm much too busy - with my pottery, playing with our grandchilden (soon to be 11!), traveling, making up new recipes, sailing with my husband, Phil and running our new on-line business - to worry about being bitter or turning back the clock.

The only thing for sure is that there is no "sure" thing about us old Boomers! We're active, we're diverse, and we're (most of us) having fun!


Do some research - American Express does NOT own the Ameriprise brand. Ameriprise spun-off from Amex as a separate entity in the fall of '05.



Thanks for doing my research for me.


Tanith :Comparing the Retirement Savings of the Baby Boomers and Other Cohorts by Sharon A. DeVaney and Sophia T. Chiremba

The study indicated above includes the following information: "There was at least one retirement account in 57 percent of the [Baby Boomer Cohort] households. The average or mean amount in the retirement accounts was $49,944, but the standard deviation was $174,193, suggesting that the dollar amount held in retirement accounts varies widely by individual households. The median amount held in retirement accounts--$2,000--provides another indication of the wide variation in the amounts held by households." (..."Seventy-three percent of the household heads in the sample were white, and 53 percent were married.")

Another report that is probably a little biased because it was sponsored by Allstate ( reports the following:

"Baby boomers [are] under false impression that they are prepared [for retirement]. Fully 78 percent of the Baby Boomers surveyed believe they are prepared to meet the financial aspects of retirement, and 69 percent say they are confident that they know how much money they need to save in order to maintain the retirement lifestyle they want. However, the survey data indicates they are severely unprepared...On average, those surveyed said they would need $30,000 per year for basic living expenses during retirement...But surveyed Baby Boomers have saved an average of approximately $120,000 a mere 12 percent of what they'd need for a 20-year retirement, spending $30,000 a year. Even the $30,000 that Baby Boomers think they'll need per year may be too low, as predictions suggest that the cost of living will double over the next 20 years."

I am a GenXer and think the commercials are brilliantly done. I love-love-love Dennis Hopper and the concept of the Dream Book. However, I don't think that they are targeted to the demographic of Boomers that really need their services, though. I think they are going to resonate most with the white, somewhat idealistic but upper middle class Boomers. Even so, they do a public service if they get any Boomers that have not put enough effort into their savings to do something.

I imagine if you are the target market of any overt advertising attempt you will feel pandered too, although I don't understand why it is so offensive. It is equally offensive to be the demographic that is overlooked for a product. I don't think it matters whether the product is Financial Services or Cheerios. Someone will always have a reason to criticize. What is that this conversation piques the interest of readers and pushes people who might not have seen these ads out to them.

David Wolfe


You wrote: "I imagine if you are the target market of any overt advertising attempt you will feel pandered too, although I don't understand why it is so offensive."

Those words point to a problem in marketing to older people: their worldviews (how they connect to the world, not what they believe)lead to differences from younger people in how they perceive much that they encounter. This is not casual theory, but empiracally validated fact. For instance, the worldviews of adolescents and people in their 20s tend to lead to context-independentperceptions, whereas those of older people tend to lead to context-dependent perceptions. Also, the young mind tends to focus more on details (the trees) while the older mind tends to broaden one's focus to encompass the whole picture (seeing the forest).

I should say that the points made are generally true,however not 100% so. For example, people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum tend to have the same black-and-white picture of the world that the young generally have.

I did enjoy reading your comments and thank you for taking the time to write them.


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