Making Incontinence Cool

I've got some advice for baby boomer marketers. While we use your products, we aren't thrilled that we have to use them. Marketers need to understand the difference between marketing to a generation and marketing products by using a generational spokesmodel.
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I've got some advice for baby boomer marketers. While we use your products, we aren't thrilled that we have to use them. Marketers need to understand the difference between marketing to a generation and marketing products by using a generational spokesmodel.

Most marketers learned years ago that we prefer to see pretty young people using certain products. You rarely see an unattractive youth wearing ear buds on an iPod commercial. Brooke Shields wore her Calvins, not Ethel from I Love Lucy. In our society, it's survival of the youngest and prettiest.

Once you get into topics like incontinence, however, the Baby Boomer models finally get some work.

Incontinence starts at a young age, but it's cute then. We all smile when someone feels the bottom of a baby and says, Oh, I think we are wet! The toddler is allowed to run through the mall with wetness showing through his little sweat pants and nobody notices.

When I was in high school, one of my good friends wet her pants every time she laughed too hard. I remember one night when we decided to pull a Chinese Fire Drill at a fairly busy stoplight. Should you not know, a Chinese Fire Drill calls for you to stop at a light, jump out of the car, and run around it one time before getting back into the car. This is what we did before we had the internet to keep ourselves entertained.

As we were running around the car, I tripped and almost knocked my head into the headlight. I don't remember what I said, but I remember that it made Kathy start laughing uncontrollably. I looked back and she was doubled over, yelling, I'm wetting my pants! We all laughed, including other drivers, because it was darn cute.

So why isn't it still cute when you're over 50? Let's face it, if a person in their golden years doubles over in a public place and announces, I'm wetting my pants, most people vacate the area as quickly as possible. If we have wet marks on the back of our pants like that toddler, nobody smiles and says, Aw, bless his heart.

Society doesn't allow us to enjoy these silly little life realities. Therefore, marketing needs to make it more appealing. When advertising a pad that helps with leaking urine, marketers should not have baby boomer women dancing awkwardly in their "fashionable" pads. We know society is mocking us; this just makes us hate ourselves a little bit more.

Instead, have Heidi Klum dance around in skinny jeans. Just watching her will be hypnotic, and society will suddenly associate beauty with wearing what my mom calls a pee-pee pad. Once they've seen Heidi dance, maybe everybody will start wearing them and we will no longer be the gross old people who are leaking all over the dance floor.

Perhaps the denture commercials should use the same approach. Showing graying Americans at a picnic eating corn on the cob with their false teeth is not cool. The entire scene simply creates tension, as viewers wait to see those choppers hanging on the side of a fresh cob, grinning like "Heeeeere's Johnny" without the Johnny behind them.

Instead, advertising can show someone in their early twenties sporting a beautiful pair of false teeth. Show a cute college student dropping her teeth in a cool glass by her dorm bedside . . . and make it a glass that says something like "True Blood" on the side of it.

Suddenly, those teeth will look less pathetic and much cooler. Kids will be pulling their teeth out just so they, too, can wear dentures.

Some nights I sit in front of the television and wonder when Sally Field made the transition from "Smokey and the Bandit" cool to commercials about osteoporosis. Jamie Lee Curtis, who pleasured herself in one of the funniest movie scenes of all time, is now talking about our lower digestive tracks. I guess she's in the same physical region, she's just having less fun.

Dieting commercials could become cooler as well. Have a beautiful star promote diet products and suddenly you believe that you are going to look both thinner and younger when you lose that weight. Beyonce could even write a song along the lines of, If you like it then you should've put a gastric ring on it.

In the name of baby boomers everywhere, I beseech advertising agencies to represent us fairly. Maybe they could combine commercials and make them more positive. The people sitting in separate bathtubs could become one, and the tag-line could be, Hey! I haven't fallen and I can get it up!

If showing younger people in our commercials isn't realistic, then maybe we could at least be portrayed as we are. Commercials could depict us working in corporations and writing blogs and traveling. We could be shown using social media and creating new technology and supporting the kids who are tired of us. And whether or not we are leaking won't matter, because now, incontinence is cool.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

10. You'll Feel Old

10 Misconceptions About Aging

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