Last Weekend, CBS Sunday Morning did a profile of TV innovator Norman Lear, the creator of shows including All in the Family, Maude and Good Times. Iconic and game-changing fare to be sure. Mr. Lear, now in his 90s, is still creating and writing for TV. The difference now is that no one is buying. His newest project is a show about a group of “older” people. I have no doubt that it’s clever, funny and engaging. However, according to Mr. Lear, the executives who decide on what shows will appear on our TV screens have all passed on it. Each and every one.
While not especially surprising, I find this very, very disturbing. The older demographics are rarely represented on TV except perhaps as doddering old neighbors or the clueless parents of the main characters. This is a real oversight for a number of reasons, not the least being that many Boomers and elders have money to spend on products and services that their children and grandchildren do not. (That’s why so many of their kids have moved back in with their Boomer parents.) It would be great to see more sharp, productive older people represented. It makes very little sense to me that those in charge of creating TV programming or developing ad and marketing campaigns would not readily glom onto stories geared for the people who hold the purse strings.
A few years ago Julia and I faced this challenging battle when we decided to add a fine focus on the Boomer demographic to our PR and marketing work. Our endeavor was billed as “by and for Boomers.” We reached out to companies of all types and sizes and described how, by marketing primarily, or only, to the coveted 18-34 demo, they were missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers. We’ve found that recognition of this fact has been a slow build rather than the ground swell it should be. And so we will persevere to open the eyes and the minds of businesses around the country.
It seems clear that, although there are now many books on the shelves about successful marketing to Boomers as well as the infrequent ad campaign using people of a certain age, the media, broadcast and print, caters to the younger members of the population. I, for one – and not only because I’m no longer part of the coveted demo – can’t fathom why. Money is green, no matter whose pocket it comes from. And the older we get, it may actually become greener as we pluck it from the verdant pastures we’ve been sent to graze in.
Am I wrong?