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October 15, 2011
The Journey To Old (Part 1): It's All About the Choices
The definitive moment came about three weeks ago. I was at the register at Jo-Ann’s buying some fabric and the cashier took a long, hard look at me and asked, “Are you a senior?” Do you know how brutal  is it having to choose between my pride and a 10% discount!? My inclination was to take the discount, naturally, and put it aside for a good investment. I know what you are thinking, and you’re wrong. Plastic surgery IS a good investment!

One of our regular writers describes himself on his website bio as a “veteran” marketing person. That’s a nice, warm-and-fuzzy, polite way to put it, isn’t it? It sounds as though he’s been through the wars. In fact he insists that he has been, and since I have too I decided in the spirit of full and honest disclosure to rebrand myself as a Long Time Warrior. Picture Xena with serious underwires and steel-reinforced underwear, because you know, gravity happens — even to the best of us.

I make no apologies for not being the kind of old my mother was at my age. Propriety and demureness is not my style, sensible shoes are for octogenarians, and fiber-rich diets are boring. Give me some rock and roll music I can dance to in three-inch heels — plus the number of a good chiropractor — and I’m good to go. Evidently my entire generation has a few distinctive and different demographic measurements, too.

This is not your father’s market segment!

Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn, has been saying that online privacy concerns are “an old people’s issue.” Really?  Could it be that some of us old people are concerned about the stuff we’ve been accumulating while getting old, like our houses, cars, and credit ratings? Is it possible that younger folks are blasé about privacy because they have not yet experienced the pain associated with identity theft, reputation damage, and stalking?

Earlier this week I opened an email from a major online rug merchant advertising a 70%-off sale. I clicked on the link, rooted around the website for a few minutes, and clicked out. For the rest of the day, and for days after, fully half of the sites I visited had banner and sidebar ads for the same company. I was being stalked by a rug company!

Yes, I know that’s how Google works, and I don’t consider it invasive or dangerous, however it IS extremely annoying. As much as I have lost over the years — My War With Gravity, in particular — my short-term memory hasn’t suffered so much as to need to have innumerable reminders of where I’ve been. Honestly, I still remember how to shop!

I also understand that Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn don’t exist for me, but for the benefit of their advertisers. I’m okay with that; the profit motive is still acceptable and admirable to many of us old folks. However, ADVERTISERS should be aware that some of Google’s tactics designed to increase ad impressions, even among consumers who have shown an interest in certain products, may also be counterproductive to the image and reputation they want to present online. This is particularly true for us Long Time Warriors, because you never know when we will decide to fight back.

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Rhonda Wenner is a Very Old Advertising Person who has been there, done that, and seen quite a bit.
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