A Wing and a Prayer


Age changes a person. Having a family and a house sets limits on what one can do, of course, but the body undergoes changes, too. When I was younger, I was able to eat whatever I wanted with few consequences. Now, as I enter my 40s, foods I once enjoyed wreak havoc on my stomach. I can’t eat buffalo wings anymore. And don’t get me started on beer. Man, I miss beer.

Gone are the days when I would meet my buddies at the local pub on a Sunday afternoon, eat cheap wings, drink cheap beer, and be able to make it to work on Monday morning without that uncomfortable bloat you hear about on TV. Now, such a combination leads to heartburn and indigestion, making game days a little more uncomfortable.

Aging has also taken its toll on how I see the world. Technology has enabled us to watch an episode of our favorite shows from any location, and given us the ability to buy anything Amazon is willing to sell at the touch of a smartphone. Speaking to a telemarketer or sales rep is rare these days, especially for those younger than myself. I’ve accepted these changes, but there are still some out there who cling to old, familiar ways.

A direct response marketer often speaks to this audience. Many As Seen On TV products skew toward older generations, and most still offer an 800 number for easy contact. For those who are tech-savvy, ads usually include an option to go to the web to purchase. But trying to combine the habits of the older generation with those of the younger ones is giving marketers the same indigestion I get from wings and beer. Marketing to different age groups means more than picking two channels for your :120. It means two different messages for the same product.

For products aimed at a broad swath of 25- to 54-year-olds, the lower end of that age range is completely different from the higher end. The two groups’ preferred purchase behaviors are different, and the ads that speak to them must be completely different. Airing commercials on linear television is still effective, but budgets must accommodate mobile apps, too. Marketers can’t be afraid to branch out into uncharted territory to reach the entire audience.

For marketers supporting a retail push, advertising must change as well. With more and more people using Facebook to search for brands and services, ad dollars need to flow toward the platform. And as Amazon becomes more important than bricks-and-mortar stores, creatives must be sure to tell the consumer that they can find a product online as well as at CVS and Walgreens.

Speaking of Amazon, a major change is about to hit the media landscape as the online giant enters the NFL realm. This season, Amazon will live-stream 10 Thursday night games that will also air on CBS, NBC, and the NFL Network. The deal will allow Amazon Prime members to stream games through their TVs, gaming consoles, Amazon Fire devices, mobile devices, and desktops. These games will also reach more than 200 countries. Advertising on them will not be cheap, but with so many platforms available, marketers should investigate all options.

Marketing to different age groups means more than picking two channels for your :120. It means two different messages for the same product.

The NFL’s move to Amazon should also spark conversation for MLB. Even with the league coming off one of its most successful playoff runs, ending with a World Series victory for the Chicago Cubs, baseball is struggling to attract a younger audience. With the NBA live-streaming its extremely successful 2017 NBA Finals through Facebook, MLB needs to branch out further than the MLB app. Moving games to services such as Amazon not only gives younger audiences a place to watch that feels like their own, but also provides advertising opportunities that can help move a brand forward.

For those looking to stay within the traditional boundaries of television advertising, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sunday NFL games are dominated by CBS, FOX, and NBC. On the primetime programming side, complementary video on demand and streaming services are bringing back more programs for new seasons, alongside a few promising freshman series.

Fall advertising tends to be dominated by retailers gearing up for the holiday season and car brands trying to move the last of their yearly inventory. With no national election soaking up inventory, this year promises to be business as usual.

Instead of fighting the younger generations to hold on to what we know, accepting changes in life and technology seems like the easier option. Once Sunday rolls around, I may not be eating wings and drinking beer. But I will have my daughter on my lap and will still be watching football, while learning to accept the onset of old age.