Shortly after a recent stair-stepper workout, my normal assertive gait took on a noticeable limp, transporting me back to 1976. I had taken a chaotic fall while skiing on Aspen Mountain that season, hyper-extending my left knee. Residual pain from a tumble over a misplaced mogul creeps up on me after workouts involving a lot of knee activity. I limped to my bathroom and took an Aleve Liquid Gel, knowing that my historic pain would blessedly soon dull once medication kicked in.
This phenomenon of aging — sometimes called Boomeritis in honor of the generation’s inexorable march to the aches and pains of old age — has become an intense focus of pain medication marketers, including Aleve… especially Aleve.
A recent series of TV ads features testimonials from athletic Boomers who refuse to give up their sports. A Boomer woman plays badminton and credits her stamina to the pain numbing qualities of the medication. A Boomer man lauds the medication’s value for perpetuating his ability to continue playing baseball. Their pronouncements are inspirational: “Never stop playing.” These customer testimonials showcase real people with joint and muscle challenges who intend to stay active no matter what — with a little help from their pharmaceutical friends.
Bayer, the manufacturer and marketer of Aleve, has impressed me with its sense of the Boomer target market. The first ad to get my attention was a commercial released about three years ago featuring Leonard Nimoy from Star Trek fame.
Nimoy played Mr. Spock, the emotionless Vulcan who presented a hand sign by splitting his four fingers into a victory V. The hand sign would accompany his popular idiom: “Live long and prosper.”
In this TV spot, the aged Nimoy laments his inability to make his Spock hand signal in front of a rapt audience of adoring Trekkies, who wait in suspense to see if the actor can still fully portray his unruffled and logical TV character. Because of the miracle of Aleve, Nimoy/Spock successfully presents the gesture painlessly with his arthritic hand.
This clever commercial reveals the power of Boomer nostalgia in support of brand marketing. My colleague Chuck Nyren, who first made me aware of this Aleve/Spock commercial when we were traveling together on a speaking tour of Europe, points to this ad as a great example of nostalgic advertising. The spot demonstrates an evocative execution of historic Boomer media culture without the typical pandering and sixties hoopla around hippies, tie-dyed t-shirts and Woodstock classic rock music ad nauseam.
Chuck and I concur that this Aleve/Spock television commercial demonstrates a nuanced sensitivity to how generational nostalgia can support a brand without relying on pandering or a clueless grasp of the finer points of Boomer historic culture.
The newest Aleve ad campaign exhibits another achievement by Bayer: insight into Boomers' feelings about aging in their current life-stage. Many Boomers are confronting the consequences of many years of active sports. Joints are barking from wear and tear. Muscles and tendons strain more easily. Yet, most Boomers do not prefer to give up recreational sports that they’ve pursued for decades. Fitness-oriented Boomers are pugnacious. Most have little hesitation to enable their active lifestyles with pharmaceutical palliative when necessary.
This campaign reveals life-stage marketing from a Boomer perspective. Yes, Boomers are at the period of life when their bodies are showing ravages of joint/tendon wear and tear. But they’re also in a generation that typically refuses to let go of youthful pursuits, often with an attitude of defiance over conventional thinking about slowing down as one ages.
The category of over-the-counter pain killers has a robust and competitive future with the aging of the Boomer generation. Bayer has established a burly beachhead in this market as demonstrated by both its nostalgic advertising and its nuanced comprehension of athletically active Boomers today.
Further, when perusing Bayer’s website for Aleve, you discover in-depth medical information covering almost every conceivable medical condition for which this medication has applications: back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, sports injuries, sprains, strains and osteoarthritis.
Bayer’s marketing team is not above criticism. You can watch the Nimoy ad above, which has been posted on YouTube numerous times. However, I am unable to link you to sample ads featuring the athletic Boomers pursuing their sports in spite of chronic pain. The ads aren’t posted online. I couldn’t even find online references to this campaign, such as you might read in press releases or through discussions by other bloggers, with one exception.
This lack of full deployment of online media misses enormous opportunities.
Bayer’s marketing team understands and deploys online marketing with respect to targeting Generation Y. Bayer conducted a viral online campaign targeting young people in July 2007 for Aleve Liquid Gels with a click-through game beginning at the website http://www.aleviator.com, now a broken link.
According to a January 2009 Pew Internet study, 74 percent of the Boomer generation uses the Internet, representing 36 percent of the Internet population. Seventy-eight percent research health information online!
With Boomers substantially online and comprising the most significant demographic group searching for information about medically related problems, Bayer would have been prudent to post the ads, not only on their Aleve product website but also on YouTube. They could have even followed the approach taken by Mutual of Omaha and its "Aha Moments " campaign and included online video testimonials by athletic Boomers.
Missing proven online opportunities is almost as painful as not taking Aleve.
Within a few days after this article, a "Never Stop Playing" Aleve commercial appeared on YouTube, so finally the TV campaign is going viral online. Embedding is being blocked by someone, so you'll need to link here to see it. BG