Monday, January 18, 2016

Causewave: New name, new mission

Last week, my pal Dresden Engle invited me to a big reveal: the re-branding of the Ad Council of Rochester to Causewave Community Partners.

The old Ad Council organization, founded decades ago by an advertising manager at Eastman Kodak Co., orchestrated community-wide campaigns that grew awareness for water pollution, distracted driving, and other important issues. And it helped dozens of not-for-profit organizations earn visibility in regional media.

The fresh branding helps Causewave differentiate itself from other regional Advertising Councils, as well as the national Ad Council.

Now, about the organization's causes:

At the event, I met a few PR professionals who are on the high side of age 50. They had that look; they were networking, looking for contacts who might help them find job opportunities. These pros were in the minority; most of the Causewave celebrants were much younger.

As a demographic snapshot, the job seekers were older, with salt-and-pepper hair and a subtle vibe of Henry David Thoreau's quiet desperation. This mirrored my experience in 2013, when poorly veiled ageism stalled my career pursuits. I got lucky, but not after a long string of thanks-but-no-thanks rejections.

So, here's a proposal for Causewave's agenda of "collective impact" issues: Fight ageism in the workplace. Call on corporations, agencies, and marketers to seriously recruit beyond the 20-, 30-, and 40-somethings in its kickoff audience. Enlist owners and presidents of Causewave's partner organizations in an initiative to hire experienced advertising and PR pros.

Why? Because affordable health care and medical advances mean people are living longer. So the target demographic for many consumer products and services now skews older.

And smart marketing communication strategies ought to employ strategists who know the 50-plus demographic better than people half their ages.