OMG: How Media Buyers Fell in Love with AARP Media

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The advertising solutions division of AARP launches a campaign to attract millennial marketers.

Last fall AARP Media faced a positive tipping-point: For the first time in history—based on data from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey—consumers over 50 made up the majority (51%) of all consumer spending.

Considering our unique knowledge and reach, we knew that AARP Media offered marketers the best option for connecting with those in the 50+ population. But, we had a problem: Millennial marketers and media buyers simply don't think of targeting this demographic when planning their advertising campaigns.

This begged the following question: How could we reach these millennial media buyers and how could we do so fast? Our team needed a fresh way to share this new data.  

Our solution: Speak their language—and reach them everywhere.

The big takeover

From November 16 to 23, we conducted a “takeover” campaign that featured a mix of paid, earned, and promotional elements. 

At the center of the takeover campaign was our creative message designed especially for millennials. We featured slang terms in color-blocked red and white fonts with minimal text. Some examples include: “DUH,” “OBVI,” “OMG,” and “LEGIT.” 

Each term was a response to questions about AARP Media's knowledge of the 50+ audience, including: “50+ accounts for 51% of consumer spending. OMG,” “Does AARP Media Sales reach 50+ better than anyone? DUH,” and “Are AARP Media Sales the experts on the powerful 50+ audience? OBVI.”

To reinforce the idea that AARP is everywhere the 50+ demo lives, we placed our takeover campaign everywhere, too, including ads across print, digital, social, out-of-home, and native. Ads ran in the print editions of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal; as well as online on sites such as AdAge, Adweek, Digiday, MediaPost, eMarketer; and the millennial-friendly BuzzFeed.  

We also placed our ads across social media and in transit hubs, as well as in the elevators of media agencies in major markets across the country, like New York. We even had the campaign appear on baked goods. We shipped 5,000 custom cookies featuring tent cards with our “DUH” and “OBVI” messaging to 50 ad agencies across the country.

In addition, our VP, Group Publisher, Shelagh Daly Miller wrote a native article articulating the best ways to connect with adults 50+ for the holiday season and beyond. We placed Shelagh's article in  Ad Age, and then shared it on Medium. A bonus: Our campaign earned media and caught the attention of reporters, garnering trade press coverage.

The results

We were eager to measure our results and the quantitative feedback that demonstrated our campaign's strong performance. Direct traffic to our media kit increased by 400% while LinkedIn mail had a 30% open rate. Plus, 6,000 people read our native article on Medium.

Our feedback included comments like this one, “Thank you so much for demonstrating the power of the 50+ demo through the universal language of baked goods! We are looking into early 2016 for a meeting.”

What's next? 

We are building upon the campaign's success and took the initiative to the next level in 2016. In addition to cooking up another batch of our popular (and delicious!) custom campaign cookies, we added new words to the campaign like EPIC and LEGIT, which we have emblazoned onto bright red t-shirts and hoodies featuring the slogans in bold white text.

The bottom line: OMG, it's love!

With our multi-platform ‘takeover' campaign, we proved that the 50+ demographic is essential to marketing campaigns and that AARP's media properties offer effective ways to reach this key demographic. Speaking directly to millennial media professionals in a lighthearted way, our team took our campaign's message everywhere and had fun doing so.

We are proud that, thanks to this takeover campaign, we can answer the question, “Do millennial media marketers and buyers love AARP Media? The answer is…OBVI.

About the author:

Patricia Lippe Davis's mass media and advertising insights are drawn from strategic and creative marketing positions at the top three out of five circulation magazines, including Hearst's Good Housekeeping, Reader's Digest, Time Inc, and the New York Times Co. As VP of Marketing for AARP Media Sales, Patricia combines her mass market knowledge with her personal experience as a boomer to lead the advertising trade marketing for AARP's publications, digital, and broadcast sales. 


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