AAFTL Part 1: Intelligence Panel Report

By Jillian E. Sorgini
Corporate Communications Associate
Draftfcb

On Thursday, April 26, I attended the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) latest Thought Leadership installment — Boomer’s Perspective on Multicultural Brand Messaging and Media Content.

I was sent to the panel so I could Live Tweet and blog, but initially I wondered if I would even understand any of it. How does the Boomer’s perspective pertain to me and why should I (or anyone for that matter) care about it? A typical Millennial reaction I suppose, but I knew next to nothing about Boomers. From the few articles I had read, it seemed that Boomers were slow to embrace technology and generally stubborn in their ways.

I confess I didn’t take the time to look up the actual definition of a Boomer until after the panel. A Boomer, I learned, is someone born between 1946-1965.

Armed with the real definition, I realized I knew more about Boomers than I once thought. I spent my life surrounded by them. My parents and all of my friends’ parents are Boomers. Essentially, I was attending a panel on my parent’s perspective — something I could easily relate to as my parents are always quick to share their opinions, whether welcome or not.

Moderated by Lorrain Cortés-Vásquez of the AARP, the Intelligence session was simulcast from Washington, D.C. and featured the following panelists: Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief strategy officer at Leo Burnett; Marta Insua, VP, strategic insights at Alma DDB; Jim Lucas, EVP, global retails insight and strategy at Draftfcb; Sharon Panelo, brand strategist of digital and social at McCann Erickson; Emilio Pardo, chief brand officer at AARP; Chuck Schroeder, partner and copywriter at Senior Creative People. Each of the panelists possessed a deep knowledge of Boomers and the ways to market to them, but not all of them were Boomers.

The panel wasted no time getting things starting and began by examining the attitudes that Boomers have of themselves. Youth was a dominant theme. As the panelists debated the definition for Boomers, one panelist chimed in saying “If you’re younger than Mick Jagger, you’re young.”

It seemed that this was something that everyone could agree upon. Curiously, I looked up Mick Jagger’s birthday. He was born in 1943, missing the Boomer group by three years, which makes him a fascinating barometer of youth.

With a grasp on youth, the panel went on to discuss social media. Sharon Panelo, brand strategist of digital and social at McCann Erickson, accurately summed it up when she said, “We know that younger generations are driving social media, but Boomers aren’t far behind.”

For Boomers, a lot of the hesitation to embrace social media stems from the fact that they are slow to trust. Boomers are incredibly concerned with privacy, particularly with social media. There is a distinct generational difference between the Boomers and the Millennials regarding what to keep private. Rather than putting it all out there, the Boomers are much more thoughtful in their social interactions.

Though they do keep their guard up, Boomers should not be excluded from the social media world. In the end, it’s all about the value exchange. If the Boomers deem something worthy, they are quick to get on board. “As Boomers start to understand, they will take on social media,” Jim Lucas, EVP, global retail insight and strategy of Draftfcb said. “That’s where the opportunity is for a two-way conversation.”

Everything came full circle as the panel wrapped up. From social media and two-way conversations, the discussion jumped to the importance of storytelling, our most basic way of sharing information. As Chuck Schroeder, partner and copywriter at Senior Creative People, put it, “We need focus on the value of storytelling. It’s how we share information and how we evolve. We need to re-appreciate the value of the story.”

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