boomer tsunami and redefining age

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Earlier this month, the Toronto Star presented a special series by journalist Judy Steed documenting the most pressing policy issues of our aging society, as part of the 2008 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy. It is apparent that Ontario is bracing for a grey wave – a demographic tsunami is headed our way. Canada is fading to grey, as the population bulge known as the baby boomers closes in on senior status, with the first wave turning 65 in 2011. This generation will live longer than their forebears; not only has Canadian life expectancy doubled in the past century, to 82 for men and 85 for women, but many more of us will live to be 100. What are we going to do with all these old folks?

More importantly, how will the proliferation of all these senior’s affect our society, economically and culturally? Will they have the same influence and buying power as they have had throughout their entire lives? Will advertisers continue to target the aging boomers? Will the boomer be defined in a new and improved way?

Dr. David J. Demko, professor of gerontology and editor of AgeVenture News Service, first coined the term in 1998 to identify this new trend-setting group of Boomers who are breaking retirement tradition.

Increased life-expectancy has transformed ‘Yesterday’s Yuppie’ into ‘Today’s ZOOMER.’ These new boomers are colouring outside the lines, zig-zagging and zooooooming toward a bright new horizon chock-block full of possibilities for reinventing retirement and redefining what it means to be a mature adult in the new millennium.

According to Dr. Demko, someone is a ZOOMER who:

1) Knows the difference between primary (inevitable) and secondary (reversible) aging
2) Performs daily exercise (aerobics for endurance, anaerobics for strength, and neurobics for brain power)
3) Calculates daily nutritional and caloric needs based on age, gender and weight
4) Orchestrates a social support system of companions, close friends and a confidante
5) Enjoys a positive self-concept, and a passion for living life to the fullest
6) Achieves the resources necessary to live an adventurous life thanks to sound retirement planning

Gee, I wonder how many of these ZOOMERS still have the necessary resources to live an adventurous life, since the economy has gone down the toilet.

Nevertheless, the ZOOMER has been decreed a viable and new audience, and is the latest venture of Toronto media guru Moses Znaimer, who is now the Executive Director of CARP (Canada’s Association for the 50Plus) and the founder of ZoomerMedia. Znaimer’s new vision of aging for Canada incorporates a variety of media ventures that encompass radio, print, social media and events tailored to the 45+ or 50+ crowd. And it’s interesting to see why he would target this market.

Quick Zoomer facts*
Zoomers purchased 58% of all cars in the past year. They represent 73% of households with $100,000 income and enjoyed 55% of all vacations in the past year. Zoomers purchased 80% of health care products, and they represent 83% of households with savings or securities over $500,000.
*Statistics Canada Census Data, 2007

Gee, I wonder how many of these Zoomers will be purchasing new cars, going on vacations, will be gainfully employed and still have savings or securities over $500,000, since the economy has gone down the toilet. Putting all cynicism aside, the Zoomer is still the largest demographic with disposable cash and will continue defining era after era.

The baby boom generation (1946-1964) is the largest age demographic in North America, and the primary reason why advertisers started to create and target youth audiences. Because they are the largest demographic, they will always be marketed and targeted. We are already bombarded with ads for health insurance, health care and health & beauty products. Just think of all the ads for skin care – and the creation of Dove – real beauty ads. As the boomers are aging, aging is being projected in a different light, and as the oldest of the boomers are creeeping toward senior citizenship – watch and see – ads on funeral planning, wills and estate planning, retirement planning, cancer treatments, travel and leisure, and cosmetic surgery will take over the airwaves.

The definition of zoomer does not fit everybody in the 45+ age bracket. What a lot of people keep forgetting is that the boomers born from 1960-1964 did not have the same advantages as the boomers born from 1946-1959. The late boomers are actually “Generation X” and the subject of Douglas Coupland’s novel of the same name, which dealt with their collective angst at not being able to achieve the same things as those who came before them. This group is so overlooked that the original Gen X moniker has been displaced and shifted to the group that was born after them from 1965-1979.

What advertisers have to do is take a good look at the baby boom generation and not lump them into one group package like Znaimer’s Zoomers. All demographics based on age have to be overhauled to reflect a new reality – Do you honestly think that 40+ men and women are like 40+ men and women from the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s? I turned 45 this year, and panicked when I realized that I would be shifting from the 25-44 demographic and lumped in with the 45-59 or 45-64 set and thought no way – when did this happen? In the last year and half, I finally got my degree and completed a graduate program – I am not your typical 45 year-old. That being said, in this topsy-turvy economic climate, spending will be curtailed and many people who have lost their jobs will be starting fresh career paths or going back to college or university. The face of a post-secondary student will continue to shift and not fit the conventions of advertisers. Age lines are definitely blurry and demographics should reflect this.


A Salute to the Grouch

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I have returned from a self-imposed blog sabbatical, where I actually spent more time reading books (memba them) and interacting with people instead of my laptop. Well, now I am back and ready to prattle on about a myriad of topics. My first blog, fittingly, is a salute to National Grouch Day and provides an overview of some of pop cultures most celebrated grumps from the past and present. Enjoy and have a Happy Grouch Day!

Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you

GROUCHO MARX  was an American comedian and film star who made several movies with his brothers – Chico, Zeppo, Harpo & Gummo – collectively known as the Marx Brothers. As the leader of the comedy troupe, Groucho’s trademark greasepaint moustache, eyebrows, glasses and cigars have become icons of comedy; however, his ascerbic wit and biting remarks are truly grouchy. I highy recommend three Marx Brothers comedies – Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the RacesBelieve me, you won’t be disappointed. 


I am free of all prejudices. I hate every one equally.

W.C. FIELDS, yet another oldie but goodie who exudes grumpasaurus. He created one of the great comic personas of the early half of the 20th century – a misanthrope, yet a charming drunk who hated children, dogs and women (unless they were the wrong sort of women). Check out My Little Chickadee with Mae West and The Bank Dick to see this comic grump genius at his best.


Who picks out your clothes – Stevie Wonder?  (to David Letterman)

DON RICKLES, also known as the Merchant of Venom & Mr. Warmth is an insult comic extraordinaire. You may also know him as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies, or most recently saw his appearance on the Emmy Awards with Kathy Griffin, where he won two Emmy’s for his comedy special “Mr. Warmth.” His career has been a lengthy one, due in part to his philanthropy and reputation that his insults are meant in jest and not actual spite.


I hate spunk

Lovable, yet irrascible Ed Asner as Lou Grant on both the Mary Tyler Moore Show and spin-off Lou Grant is another salutable grump.  When he first interviewed Mary, he liked her because she had spunk, even though he hated spunk. He offered her the job of associate producer at WJM-News, which paid less than the secretarial position for which she had initially interviewed, but she approved it, saying that she could only afford being an associate producer. Little did Mary know that he offered her a position as producer for even less money.


Good morning, dickhead!  Hello moron!

JACK LEMMON and WALTER MATTHAU are in fine form as John and Max, two former friends who live next door to each other, and who for the past 50 years continuously argue and insult each other. Enjoy this clip from Grumpy Old Men.


Where’s the beef?

CLARA PELLER – the grumpy old woman of the 1980’s – found fame starring in a TV ad campaign for Wendy’s where the catchphrase “Where’s the beef?” has become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event or product. Despite the huge popularity of the commercial, Peller was fired by Wendy’s after she had “found the beef” endorsing Prego Plus Spaghetti Sauce.


Do you smell it? That smell. A kind of smelly smell. The smelly smell that smells…smelly

MR. EUGENE H. KRABS, owner of the Krusty Krab and SpongeBob SquarePants’ boss is one crusty crab.  Money, money, money is always on Mr. Krab’s mind and he can usually be found in his office counting cash and tallying up the day’s receipts. Even though SpongeBob gets on his nerves – Mr. Krab really likes that he’s willing to work long hours for very little pay. Money makes the world go ’round! Interesting video which compares Mr. Krab’s pursuit of money to the pursuit of the American Dream and the great American businessman.


Now leave me alone and get lost!

I saved the best grouch for last – Oscar the Grouch, who has been a grouchy presence on Sesame Street since 1969.  Did you know that Oscar was originally orange in Season 1? I love that the Children’s Television Network used Jim Henson’s muppet creations to educate children about different behaviour and feelings. It’s OK to be angry and grouchy sometimes – like today, October 15, 2008.  Stand up for your grouchy rights. Go ahead – be a grouch- now, go and get lost! But first – Oscar the Grouch and his Grouch Anthem from Follow That Bird.


Earth Hour – Saturday, March 29, 2008 – 8 p.m.

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2008 at 3:38 am

What are you doing this Saturday night? May I suggest that whatever you do, that between eight and nine p.m., turn off your lights in honour of Earth Hour. On March 31, 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 businesses in Sydney, Australia turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour.

With Sydney icons such as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning off their lights, and unique events like weddings held by candlelight, the world took notice. Inspired by the collective effort of Sydney, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement.

In one short year, Earth Hour has grown from an idea to an international celebration of the environmental importance of turning out the lights to use less power. The incredible results from the Sydney experiment demonstrated that “if the greenhouse reduction achieved in Sydney during Earth Hour was sustained for one year, it would be the equivalent of taking 48,616 cars off the road for one year.”

How can you take part? By registering for Earth Hour at http://www.earthhour.org and getting involved by reducing energy consumption. Earth Hour is one little hour – 60 minutes of your life to be a part of a global collective conscience that has one goal in mind – to reduce global warming. What can you do during Earth Hour? Well I recommend one of these three ideas:

1) have a romantic candlelit dinner


2) hold an Earth Hour cocktail party by candlelight – serve Global Warming cocktails


3) explore the night sky and star gaze


If you were in Toronto, during the blackout in August 2003, you will remember how incredible the night sky was. I have never in my life seen that many stars in the city, so Earth Hour will hopefully provide an amazing hour for star gazing.

When I last checked, more than 60 cities in Canada are taking part in Earth Hour. In the GTA, approximately 15,000 people have registered as participants with the World Wildlife Fund. Toronto’s city core is expected to darken significantly with more than 30 prominent buildings like First Canadian Place, the Canada Life Building, Commerce Court and TD Centre committed to dimming their lights during Earth Hour. Some of the Toronto retailers participating include the Eaton Centre, Home Depot, Honest Ed’s, Sears Canada, Whole Foods Market, Loblaws and Willow Books. The Hudson’s Bay Company which includes The Bay, Zellers and Home Outfitters – 600 stores across Canada – are also participating by dimming or completely turning off lights depending on whether they’re open for business. Also, a free, acoustic and clean-energy-powered concert will take place at Nathan Phillips Square, featuring Nelly Furtado, Philosopher Kings and Fefe Dobson.

Simple steps like turning off your lights can make a big difference; however, if you really want to see a difference, then make Earth Hour part of your everyday life. Three simple things that can make a big difference:

1) turn off appliances while not in use  


2) Change your light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs    


    3) turn off the lights when you leave a room   

Please register at www.earthhour.org and join the Earth Hour movement this Saturday, March 29 and turn off your lights for 60 minutes starting at 8 p.m.