The value of Old School Advertising

Old School BlogAs a marketing consultant who has designed thousands of print ads, I have watched the evolution of advertising over the past six decades. Marketing strategies have changed from the traditional to Avant Garde. The advertising that was popular in the 1970’s through the 1980’s is now considered “Old School”. On a couple of occasions, I have had a client remark, “That’s Old School”, when I presented an advertising or marketing concept. As if “Old School” was a bad thing. My response has been, if your market is Old School, then you need an Old School approach in your advertising. Not everyone is receptive to the latest trends and fads. In fact, some are turned off by them. We have to look at what appeals to each market segment and design a strategy that will be most effective. In some cases it may be Old School. So if the primary market for your products or services is the fifty-plus crowd, Old School methods may be the most effective strategy to reach them.

Traditionalists (born before 1945) and Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) are Old School. These are graybeards, like my retired friend Rick, who owns eight classic cars, spends thousands of dollars on his collection, but doesn’t own a computer. So all the on-line and Social Media promotions, popular today, are not going to influence him. Rick does read magazines and orders catalogs. Rick is Old School, and typical of many of his generation.

Millennials (Born 1980-2000), are hot on Social Media. My Grandsons, have never bought anything out of a catalog or a print ad, nor do they receive or respond to Direct Mail promotions. They do not read magazines like their parents and grand parents, but do just about everything on-line. While Social Media is the hottest trend right now it is focused on the younger market. They are the “trendies”.

Seniors (age 55+) are a huge market, have money, and buy a lot of stuff. Many products and services are directed specifically for the older market. Recently I ran across an ad, in a Senior Citizen Magazine and saw a TV commercial, for Jitterbug, a cell phone designed specifically for the elderly. It had big, easy to read number buttons and simple controls. Not everyone needs or wants all the features on the latest iPhone. So this is a great product for the Golden Years crowd. Their advertising headline was, “Stay Connected” the perfect message for Grandma and Grandpa to keep in touch with the family in today’s hi-tech world.

Old School Advertising is understanding the senior market, creating a compelling message that attracts their attention, provides information in a style that they are comfortable and familiar with and motivates response. Media could be a combination of special interest magazines like Golf, Gardening, Travel, Health combined with Cable TV like the History Channel and nostalgic reruns along with targeted Direct Mail Catalogs and collateral.

Many products and services have a multi generational market appeal and targeted campaigns can be run to reach each market segment. But caution must be exercised to avoid a conflict in branding. Oldsmobile was traditionally an older generation car, so the ad agency came up with the campaign slogan, “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile”, in 1980 to appeal to the younger crowed.

Here are some guidelines for Old School Advertising: • Never, address the over fifty crowd as, “Seniors”, it is talking down to them. Most older folks still want to think of themselves as middle-aged. •Text in the ads should be large. Elderly people have a difficult time reading 4 pt. type. So consider a large, readable font. • Use traditional and familiar terms in ad copy instead of the latest jargon or technical talk. • Don’t be too cute with the creativity. Communicate without insulting them. • Seniors tend to be more conservative, so the tone should not be Political Left. • Never show really old or feeble people in the ads. Graphics and photos should depict active mature folks, smiling and having a good time • Motivate response with a deal, discount, or some incentive to call • Don’t rely on your website, many seniors who have computers are not at ease navigating the web. • Use an 800 number. • Consider coupons elders loves to clip coupons. Here are some more do’s and don’ts.

Old School Advertising strategies are often considered outdated, or if you excuse the old expression: “old hat”, because much of the advertising is being designed by young Art Directors who do not understand or relate beyond their own experience. Old School Advertising does work in Senior Citizen marketing when designed properly. For more information on developing an “Old School” marketing campaign… contact: Tom Smisek Marketing Consultants, an experienced Orange County California Marketing Firm.