Villing & Company

When Did I Fall Asleep and Baby Boomers Become Hip?

We didn't use the term "buzz" so much back then, but in the fall of 1975 a new TV show was all the talk around the water cooler. I was just a few years out of college and NBC was airing a hot new program that seemed perfect for us twenty-somethings. Edgy. Irreverent. Full of "wild and crazy guys" like Steve Martin, Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi and many others. NBC had a big hit on its hands and, best of all, it fit perfectly into one of their most targeted demographics, young adults. The show was, of course, Saturday Night Live.

Fast forward 35+ years and SNL is still fairly popular although not nearly what it was back in the day. Young adults still seem to appreciate SNL's offbeat humor. But a strange new dynamic has surfaced. The much-coveted role of SNL guest-host is increasingly being played by those considerably more advanced on the demographic spectrum. The most obvious example was the grass roots initiative to draft nearly 90-something Betty White last year (for which she received a Primetime Emmy). Since then, SNL guest-hosts have included the likes of "Glee" star Jane Lynch (50), Dana Carvey (55), Robert DeNiro (67) and Jeff Bridges (65). And according to MediaPost's Mark Bradbury, this month SNL has featured Sir Elton John (64) and Dame Helen Mirren (65).

Twice previously I have written columns questioning the conventional wisdom of the marketing mantra that 18-49 is the most coveted demographic. These articles (linked below) have generated a fair amount of discussion and both stimulated inquiries from media outlets including the New York Post and a Syfy blogger.

I don't honestly intend to draw any particular conclusions from this discussion other than encouraging all marketers to think long and hard about their target audience rather than blindly following conventional wisdom. I think marketers might be better served to follow the wisdom of the infamous Eddy Sutton, who reportedly said he chose to rob banks because that's "where the money is." Even though the financial landscape is changing for many Boomers, they still have substantially more buying power than any other demographic. And when I can stay awake long enough, some of them are still interesting to watch "Live. From New York."

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