AARP Strikes ‘Punk-Rock’ Chord

NEW YORK Now approaching 50 itself, AARP is heading off a midlife crisis with a new TV ad that celebrates the aging process to the strains of the Buzzcocks’ classic punk song “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays.”

The image overhaul, aimed in part at future AARPers now in their 30s and 40s, is part of a long-running effort to reposition the organization formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons (it has gone by just AARP since 1999) as one devoted to vigorous, working people who are 50-and-up.

“There is a lingering perception that AARP is a retiree organization,” said Emilio Pardo, AARP chief brand director. “But people are living longer and working longer and we want to reflect that back to them. We are in a position to further enhance the lives of people 50 and over.”

A cornerstone of the brand update is a theme with five words that reflect members’ needs: “Health. Finances. Connecting. Giving. Enjoying.”

The AARP spends close to $115 million annually in measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The AARP logo itself also has been updated, via Siegel & Gale, New York, to resonate with the brand’s more energized spirit.

Ads are designed to increase Washington-based AARP’s 38 million members, who pay annual dues of $12.50. In return, the organization lobbies for pet issues like Social Security and provides discounts with participating brands.

The first TV ad, one of seven brand and advocacy spots slated for this year—via GSD&M, Austin, Texas—bowed yesterday during the Golden Globes Awards. The 30-second spot shows several generations of a family celebrating the matriarch’s birthday.

“There’s a new focus on creative that is energetic, engaging, very emotional and multigenerational,” said Pardo.

The Internet and digital technology will play a big role in the overhaul; a revamped, more interactive Web site and blog will launch in the third quarter.