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    This blog is about Baby Boomers and our impact on business, society, and culture, today and in the future. Here I explore many themes relevant to those of us on a thoughtful journey to reinvent the future of aging. I am a consultant and author of six books, including "Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions." I present workshops and give keynote speeches about the intersection of the Boomer generation, business, aging, and societal transformations. My company, Brent Green & Associates, Inc., is an internationally award-winning firm specializing in building brands and forming successful commercial relationships with Boomers through the unique power of generational marketing. Marketing to Boomers I welcome your comments and questions here. This blog is a continuing conversation that began in June 2005, and I'll appreciate hearing from you.

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    « A Hosting Odyssey on the WeEarth Global Radio Network: Boomer Future, Aging, Business, Marketing, Advertising, and Public Policy Thought Leaders | Main | LOHAS, Baby Boomer Men, and the Future of Healthy Aging »

    January 30, 2013


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    Brent Green

    You've made some good points that I neglected to think about, Chuck. The ad also depicts sloppy diners, parking lot loitering, police drive-by vigilance -- making Taco Bell appear not to be a nice place to dine late at night. That ought to bother the corporate brand managers more than the ageist imagery.

    Chuck Nyren

    Good points. Nods to all the intelligent comments.

    This is a third tier Superbowl spot, silly and stupid. Nothing wrong with silly and stupid, but nowadays they are the rule, not the exception. Silly and stupid used to work when unexpected and jarring. Now everybody waits to see if the next spot is sillier and stupider than the preceding one.

    The spots that stand out today are witty and serious – or at least with serious subtext, such as the Chrysler/Detroit spots over the last few years. Witty might be the Volkswagen/Darth Vader spot – although my take was that it wasn’t completely convincing. A seven-year old nowadays would probably have to teach his/her parents about computer-enhanced keys – and certainly whatever other high-tech doodads are integral parts of the dashboard. It’s reverse-ageism. For better or worse, kids aren’t stupid and amazed by much anymore.

    Taco Bell. Forget the older folks acting silly and stupid, and look at it this way:

    Taco Bell is a chain of inexpensive drive-thru and sit-down restaurants. Its four selling points beyond the price: Fast, reliable, family-friendly, clean. Fifty years ago few people thought a Mexican restaurant chain could be positioned as clean, reliable, or with any sort of publicly perceived quality control – outside of Southern California. They were wrong.

    The takeaway from this spot: The customers who frequent Taco Bell are filthy degenerates who eat, slobber and spill food and wrappers all over the parking lot, and wouldn’t think twice about leaning on or spilling food on your car. It’s a dingy, dirty hangout. Police keep a watchful eye on the place.

    The biggest advertising sin: This spot will not sell even one taco.


    Enjoyed this article and agree with it 99%! It reminded me almost exactly of a TV ad that Coke did a few years ago - guy in a retirement home tries Coke (the drink!) for the first time, then breaks out and engages in a series of behaviours involving tatoos, sex and so on. But then, we all know that plagiarism amd ageism are not exactly new to the advertising world!
    The 1% of disagreement is this. Perhaps the ad is inviting us to question stereotypes of older people (and by association perhaps steretypes of fast food).
    We don't have Taco Bell over here in the UK, but (amusing if irrelevant aside) some 25+ years ago, my then agency worked on launching TB into the UK (it didn't work, as we are fitted with taste buds over here). The first outlet was in central London, on Leicester Square. And because it was designed from the US, without knowing the location, it faced onto an alleyway, with a brick wall facing Leicester Square - one of London's busiest pedestrian areas! Bit of a missed opportunity!Perhaps their view of older people is based upon similar levels of research!!

    Brent Green

    Let's think about this for a second. Taco Bell depicts seniors as outrageous and narcissistic. And we should feel uplifted by this marketer's generosity for even including them in their ads? At least Taco Bell did not show seniors in rocking chairs and looking clueless. What a gift!

    This, to me, is one measure of desperation that many feel to see older adults included in mainstream society and represented with positive metaphors and images.

    I'm not grateful. Taco Bell's depiction is not good enough.

    McDonald's did a better job portraying older adults engaged in mainstream society over 30 years ago.

    Anne-Marie Kovacs

    I agree and disagree. When I first saw this commercial yesterday, I thought it was "refreshing" in a way. Definitely meant as a parody, these seniors are not confined to their usual expected behavior of sitting in the rocking chair, on the balcony, staring into nothingness. I don't think that this is any worse than the legendary "Where's the Beef" campaign or Betty White's "Off Their Rockers" show from which this campaign was undoubtedly inspired (see the other ad in the series:, I expect this one should have you even more outraged).

    I agree that our culture's ageism relegates anyone over 60 to the dustbin. I am angry at that. But I am also disturbed that 95% of all cleaning product ads feature housewives only. And I'm upset that 90% of men represented in ads or sitcoms appear to be bumbling incompetents. And I'm saddened that minorities are underrepresented in every media.

    But at least, these seniors were mobile. Or should I say, rockin'!

    G. Richard 'Dick' Ambrosius

    Well put my friend! You set the context and clearly nailed these clowns that simply do not get it. Maybe Taco Bell is writing off everyone over age 60 as not worthy of doing business with anymore. Ageism is alive and well. I hope the message that comes through is that eating Taco Bell causes narcissism and psychotic behavior and should therefore be avoided.

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