AARP needs more than ‘sonic branding’ to reach someone my age

Stuart Elliott’s advertising column in today’s Times features a profile of the AARP and its decision to hire DMI Music and Media Solutions to develop a strategy to make music and sound part of the AARP brand.

Officially called "sonic branding," music and sound branding is supposed to provide another new and Aarp different way with which marketers can connect with target audiences. As an example, Elliott cites the familiar "Intel Inside" music as well as the use of the song "As time goes by" by Warner Bros. at the start of each new movie to connect in some soulful way with audiences. Indeed, sonic branding supposedly strikes a chord (pun intended) deep within the target audience and opens their mind to whatever product or service offering is to follow.

For all I know, sonic branding may, in fact, be a smart marketing alternative. But, the AARP, which no longer calls itself the American Association of Retired Persons, will never connect with me. At least not for another 15 years or so.

As a case in point, my assistant recently begged me to join AARP so I could begin receiving all of their considerable discounts. "No friggin’ way," said I. "That’s for octogenarians, not me." And that, in a nutshell, is AARP’s problem. They did a great job positioning themselves over the past 25 years as the THE lobbying group and resource center for old folks. Shortening their name to an acronym doesn’t suddenly make them resonate with me or my ilk. Nor will hearing "Purple Haze," "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "Eight Miles High" in the background of new AARP TV spots change my mind.

With people like me thinking that 50 is the new 30, the AARP’s marketing challenge resembles a "long and winding road." As Sir Mick once sang, "Time is on my side." And, with all of the recent medical advances prolonging life, he’s right.

I’m "Talking ’bout my generation" and until you start doing the same and reflecting my views, AARP, I’m going to remain an unaffiliated "Free bird."

2 thoughts on “AARP needs more than ‘sonic branding’ to reach someone my age

  1. Your thoughts on AARP are right on target. I say this because I, who am older than you, also think that AARP conjured up images of old folks in wheelchairs racing down Boca Raton Blvd. with toothless smiles on their faces. It is often the comedy routine of late night hosts. And who wants to be sketched in that cartoon?
    When Mal turned 50, I too asked if I should sign him up with AARP. His response, as yours, was a resounding “NO!” And I feared for my job.
    A few musical notes will not change that “It’s all over” feeling that AARP has represented to many of us in the over 50 gang. I smart new positioning is in order. Any thoughts? Who better than my favorite image maker….?

  2. Funny you should feel so put off by AARP; they’ve recently been attacked by the right as an extremist, leftist group. After they named Harry Belafonte man of the year in December, the likes of Bill O’Reilly said that the group is espousing some pretty radical views.
    I kind of like this rebellious streak so maybe they’ll find a way to weave that into future messaging?