Monday, July 21, 2008

Relentlessly Cheerful

On Friday I attended the Retirement Show in London. An ‘interesting’ event that I need to think about a bit more before committing keystrokes to keyboard.

Like all exhibitions I was given the plastic bag of brochures on entering. Normally I dump this as soon as possible but since the days of plastic bags are number, in these environmentally conscious times, I instinctively kept the thing.

On the train home I inspected the contents. What was it about the materials that made me feel a bit queasy? It was nothing to do with the copy since I never read the stuff. It was the creative. It was relentlessly cheerful.

Now I totally understand the brief given to the designers is going to be: “create something that shows older people enjoying (they probably even use the word ‘celebrating’) being 50-plus. It is only when you see a pile of this stuff together that you realise how unrealistic, and more importantly, ineffective it is.

Maybe it is just me, but I suspect I am not alone.

Just think about it - there you are, having just walked past three exhibition stands selling different types of coffins, you then gaze at these old sods beaming with energy and vigour. It doesn't work for me. It is a bit like when you are a kid and your parents tell you to: "enjoy yourself". I hated it then I hate it now. Dick Stroud.


Gretz said...

Thank you for more insights into a life I only catch glipses of through my parents.
I wonder if you can look back at that goodie bag of Sales Brochures and work out what images would have worked?
What would have turned you off less, but engaged you and interested you?
People in a different mood - serious contemplation perhaps
Pictures of events, a storm, rather than people infront of a house (for home insurance products)
Pictures of experiences? Going on a driving holiday, but not showing people, just the scenary and the vehicle (for motor insurance)
or just text?
What would have worked better than what you have observed?

Dick Stroud said...

As I was writing this blog entry I was asking myself the same questions that you pose. Thanks for prodding me to answer.
First things first. It was reading all of this stuff in one go that resulted in my reaction. If I was being drip-fed the brochures I may have been less acerbic in my comments. Secondly, I look at creative and copy, when I am forced to read it, from a different perspective to its target audience (it is my job). Finally, honestly this is the last caveat, my opinions and reactions represent only a small part of the 50-plus market. I am continually aware that you cannot extrapolate your own views to the whole of your age cohort. The joy of this blog is that it enables me to release these professional constraints and say it how I see it.
Let’s say this material was being specifically targeted to Dick Stroud, how could it be improved. Two words – humour and directness. I don’t think I am alone in this view. Recently some research was done to look at the language to use when talking about death. The researchers seemed surprised that “kicking the bucket” was popular with an older audience. Didn’t surprise me. Ask yourself why there is such an anti-PC reaction from the over-50s.
If you look at the TV advertising that was around during my 20s and 30s a lot of it was dire but it contained some of the funniest ads ever made (in my view). If you read this blog you will know I hate making generational generalisations, so I will make one. I think there is a cynical (might be termed black humour) that is shared by lots of people in their 60s and 70s. I would suggest that anybody trying to reach the older audience submerge themselves into the TV, both programming and ads, that washed over this generation.
I hope this begins to answer the question. I will start posting some examples of promotional material that I think works well (for me). Dick