Tuesday, October 11, 2005

#83 - Look Ma! I'm a Demographic!

For several years now I have taken some comfort in the knowledge that, stodgy though I be, I still qualify for inclusion in one of the "key demographics" that television marketers use to sell their advertising. They always seem to quote the "all important adults aged 18 to 49 bracket" when they show to what lengths advertisers will go in order to sell their products. The fact that my warranty is only a couple of years shy of expiration hasn't really bothered me.

It's the bracket that bothers me. See, when I was a younger man - closer to the 18 end of the scale - I generally bought into the images portrayed in that advertising. I had the boundless energy of youth and figured I would go forever. Like the Energizer Bunny™ but with shorter ears. In fact, the older I get the more I relate to my old solar-powered calculator. I can still do the math, but I'm getting slower. It could be worse, of course. In a couple of years I'll be in the next bracket ("Geezers") and will be targeted by advertising for hemorrhoid creams and overpriced funeral insurance.

With age comes a unique perspective. There was a day when the presence of a beautiful woman in a commercial would gain my instant attention. Some commercials over the years caused whiplash of the eyeballs as I tried to ogle the talent without alerting anyone else who may have been in the room with me. The truth is, I haven't really been part of that demographic for over a decade now. Actually, if you were to try to define my demographics, they would look something like this:

18-24 - Free and easy
25-36 - Married but still immature
37-now - Remarried and happy

It's that last demographic that advertisers have trouble with. Happy older males are bad for marketers. If we're happy, we're not spending money. Think about it: all the consumer goods targeted to "my" age bracket are designed for people "on the go." SUVs are targeted (irrespective of where they actually end up) for active people who will ultimately use them for climbing all over mountainous terrain to have outdoorsy adventures involving trees and bears. Whereas I would buy an SUV only for self-defense. The closest it would get to a mountain would involve an interstate.

Beer commercials are another example. I don't drink beer. In fact, I once received an invitation to join the Beer Drinkers of America and turned them down with a letter that would probably surface if I ever ran for public office and would show my extreme prejudices, so don't look for me to run for City Council any time soon. That said, beer commercials are obviously meant to show that only young people drink beer. This is because if they ever showed what people actually look like after three or four decades of drinking the stuff, beer manufacturers would never sponsor another sporting event. Ever. I don't belong to a demographic that thinks beer drinkers are studly men. I belong to a demographic that believes beer drinkers are perpetually one can short of a six-pack.

Shaving commercials always crack me up. It doesn't matter what I smear my face with, or how many blades are in my razor. If a woman ever stroked my face like that today, she'd better have tremendous medical insurance, because my sweet wife would likely send her to the nearest emergency room. (Actually, my sweet wife is exactly that: sweet. The worst she would ever do is use her patented Death Ray Stare™ which would shrivel the woman's hand and cause her to hide from public view for the rest of her life. Thought I'd better correct that perception right away.) Besides, I no longer care what other women think of me. I have this luxury now because I am already married to the only woman whose attention I crave, and she happens to enjoy my current mix of LectricShave and Norelco shaver. Take that, Madison Avenue!

No, I'm afraid the marketers have no idea how to handle my bracket. Truth be told, I like it that way. When Mrs. Woody and I watch TV nowadays, we simply mute the commercials until the show resumes. This means I see a lot of beer commercials, but I have no idea what they're singing anymore. Used to be bullfrogs or some such nonsense. Could be opera now, for all I care.

If I'm ever interested enough, I'll just ask someone in the next lower bracket. You know... a kid.

No comments: