Every generation has their Lees

If you’re reading this, your brand wants to reach the large, growing, and affluent market of mature consumers. But you may not feel you can afford to create a separate campaign to specifically target them. 

You probably don’t have to. 

The other day in the gym, I looked up at the TV and saw this 15-second spot for Lee Jeans' ‘Modern’ series, and realized that Lee’s agency, GSD&M created an that deftly appeals to Baby Boomers, without actually casting anyone who looks much over 40. 

GSD&M didn’t offer an answer when I emailed them to ask whether the brief for this ad specifically mentioned older consumers. (Looking at the campaign overall, I’d say their primary target for the Modern Series jeans is guys in their thirties.) But, for the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter why they made a great ad for older consumers, it just matters that they did do so. 

Here's the ad. Watch it once through, and then read on...

OK, here's why, even though it’s targeting millennials, I know this ad is also resonating with a key secondary audience: Boomers.

Hipsters? Check.

Hipsters? Check.

Austin's a motorcycle-crazy town, so I’m not surprised the creative types at the agency used this opening shot to establish the brand's hipster bona fides. You might think this is the kind of shot that would tell older customers, “Stop watching; this ad’s not for you.” But you’d be wrong. The average age of a new motorcycle buyer in the U.S. is over 50.

Here’s where it get’s interesting to me. These models are (I’m guessing) all under 40, but the choices the agency made in casting — no tattoos or piercings, none of those ubiquitous hipster beards — make me think, “Sure these guys are all young, but there could easily be a 60-something guy in this game, who just happens to be off camera.” 

And look at the set dressing/location: It looks like some place you could actually carry on a conversation. 

Check out the close... The message isn’t, “It’s what all the hipster douchebags are wearing, you know you want a pair.” It’s not even, “Get the girl.”

Nope, it’s all about quality, materials, and fit. The little computer mannequin on the screen suggests that, somewhere in the database, there’s a body like the average Baby Boomer’s. And look at the propping: The vintage Wilcox & Gibbs chain stitching machine that is literally under the word 'crafted' could (and does) appeal to the real hipsters who want selvage denim, but it also sends a message about craftsmanship that resonates with older consumers — who, yes, want to look good — but also want to be able to tell themselves they're buying quality.

The difference between the millennials' message and the Boomers' message is subtle: Lee's telling the millennials, "We'll help to make you the person you want to be, or at least we'll help you look like that guy." At the same time, the message that I take from this ad as a Baby Boomer is, "These jeans are made for people like you."

GSD&M and Lee did a great job of sending both of those messages with one ad. And the best part is, the millennials don't have to know the ad also works for me.