Cell Phones: Not Just for the Young

So, the other night I saw a strange thing while watching cable (no, tragically, psychedelics were not involved) — it was an ad for a cell phone that was clearly intended for older people who were scared of cell phones. The ad itself was aimed at their boomer children, which is a logical audience, since the kids might well want to buy a phone for their parents for their own convenience. I thought it was an interesting niche and mentioned it to my media-obsessed roommate. The other day, he ran across a print ad that gave more detail about the phone. The salient features:

  • Big buttons
  • Big fonts
  • Veeeeeeeery simple functions (the print ad’s headline: “It doesn’t play games, take pictures, or give you the weather)
  • Clear, loud sound and a nice soft cushiony bit for your ear
  • 24-hour operators who can walk you through any function, including checking your voicemail
  • A normal 12-button phone, or an even simpler version that has three buttons — the operator, a number of your choice (no doubt, your kid’s number) and 911.
  • The final genius bit is the name: Jitterbug, which is clearly designed to sound fun and also familiar to the over-65 set

Why bring this up on a politics site? First, because it’s a fascinating marketing approach, and second because it’s aimed at a niche that we online warriors often miss. The standard word on mobile marketing is that it works best for younger audiences, but the Jitterbug is a sign that this may not be true for long — soon enough, EVERYONE will have a cell phone. Campaigns, think about this: mobile won’t be an experiment or an afterthought forever.


Written by
Colin Delany
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