It’s Spring time, which means one thing: You’re too fat for Summer.
That seems to be the pitch each year, with ads designed to make people feel self-conscious about how they look to others around the pool or at the beach. Whether you’re online or watching TV, someone’s going to let you know about their Summer body plan or some drink that will get you all pumped up when you work out like this:
This is all very bulimic thinking. Maybe you aren’t sticking your fingers down your throat. Exercising or dieting so you can be attractive to others, instead of doing it for the personal goal of being healthy, really is the same thing. “I must maintain control over my body, so other people don’t think less of me.”
Frankly, I’m not here to judge – I’m just here to consider approaches to advertising to that level of self-hate. So here’s the challenge: You’re either targeting young people or old people.
Young people are a good target because they’re insecure and will more easily listen to the message, “You’re fat and out of shape – do something about it so other people will want to have sex with you.” The problem with the young, however, is they generally don’t have much money. By the time you’re in college, most of it is going towards that. Maybe you have some new-found debt to create buying this kind of stuff, but someone willing to create even more debt on top of their student loans probably isn’t a great long-term customer anyway.
On the other hand, there’s the older people – like me. At my age, I look at myself in the mirror and I realize, “you know, this is about as good as it’s going to get.”
What really are the chances that in the next 10 years I’m all of a sudden going to get into super shape? I went decades of my life without doing that, and all of those years I was younger than I am now. It would have been much easier to dedicate myself to being in shape then – so what, I’m going to do it now, when I have no time and even less energy?
Also, most middle-aged people are married – so they aren’t as consumed with getting laid. Getting laid is a fantastic motivator for buying things, but if you’re not planning a divorce or an affair any time soon, it’s pretty low on your to-do list.
Diet and weight loss companies really should recognize this in the older demographic, because it’s one they should be chasing. Because middle-aged people are EXACTLY the kinds of people they should be marketing to. These people may have a mortgage and some kids to pay for, but they also have jobs. If you can appeal to them, you can build a solid customer base.
The trick is not to appeal to them with fantasies of getting chicks poolside this Summer. Instead, they should try this approach:
“You’re in your 40s. It’s all downhill from here. But if you start our [product] plan now, you can at least slow down the inevitable decline. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a few more years in before everything finally falls apart?”
Okay, maybe you gloss it up a bit more than that, but the basic idea is the same: Things are not going to get a lot better for your from now on, but hey, it could get a whole lot worse, right?