So long, 18-49 demo. It was nice knowin' yaIn network television and on Madison Avenue, I just died. Fell off the face of the Earth without so much as a forwarding address. Today I turn 50, meaning that I'm now officially out of the 18-49 demo — and that means, essentially, I cease to exist. It's all over, except for the "Murder, She Wrote" reruns and the Metamucil. Pour me a glass of buttermilk and get out.
I'm already envisioning the ways that life will change now that I'm a nonentity. I won't be able to turn on a show without lamenting how TV has been ruined by "all of those young whippersnappers" and how different it all was "in my day." The only time my ears will perk up is when they hear the word "Geritol" or the letters "AARP." Prunes are destined to be my co-pilot.
The truth is actually far different from that suggested by this exaggerated piece of whimsy, but you don't want to know the truth because — all together now — you can't handle the truth!
But seriously, I understand the rationale behind advertisers targeting the 18-34 and 18-49 prime demos. For one thing, these people are not old, and old conjures images of folks who are less vital and don't buy anything that doesn't somehow assist them in chewing or eliminating waste. The conventional wisdom, accrued no doubt via tireless focus-group research, is that the more advanced one's age, the less open one is to purchasing new and different products. Our buying habits are purportedly set by middle age. The end.
Yet there remains a lot of problems with this thesis that makes advertisers ditching people at 50 seem about as savvy as moving to Florida — home of hurricanes, hanging chads and humidity.
Did I miss the memo where the Baby Boomer numbers had somehow radically plummeted? If not, that's a lot of people for the ad community to decide no longer matter. We're talking about tens of millions. Another thing: I have tons more discretionary income now than I did at ages 18, 28, even 38. I think my money spends the same way as a guy who's 25.
Yes, I know there's also a demographic measure for ages 25-54, but we all acknowledge that's just a placating device to stave off any age discrimination lawsuits. Maybe you failed to see the asterisk beside the "54" and the corresponding tiny type at the bottom that reads, "Any similarity between someone past age 49 and a genuine consumer is purely coincidental."
With all of this in mind, my brief 50th birthday pitch to the networks and ad agencies is as follows:
Dear Young Whippersnappers: (Just kidding.)
Listen up! I'm 50, but like, I'm not underground yet or anything, OK? In fact, I buy more of the stuff that you peddle on TV and in magazines than dudes half my age. I own property. I've got a big screen with TiVo. I purchased an iPhone for $599, because real men don't wait around for price cuts. I pick up stuff that I don't even need, just because I can — like precut veggies at the supermarket.
I have a wallet and I'm not afraid to use it, and there are many more just like me out here. We buy all kinds of things: cars, computers, iPods, flip-flops, even beer. Come to my house sometime. There are actual purchased products everywhere. And trust me: When my 18-year-old daughter wants to go shopping, she isn't the one who pays.
So please spread the word: We, the demo aged, are still alive. And we're buyin'.