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Old Money Blues

Aging baby boomers are determined not to be ignored by America, or, at the very least, to maintain their buying power-recognition.

For ad pros, the 18-to-49 age group has been the Holy Grail since the 1950s. Today, television networks work to attract that coveted demographic with shows such as "Survivor" and "The Bachelor," to name a few. And companies are willing to pay big bucks to advertise products during station breaks and between programs with a young audience.

Barbara Lippert, advertising critic for AdWeek, explained on The Early Show's "Young at Heart" series that baby boomers, reaching their half-century mark with more savings and spending savvy, might wonder why are they are a target audience only for heart and arthritis medication.

The baby boomer generation makes up about one-third of the U.S. population but it controls three-fourths of the wealth. It wields $1.7 trillion in annual buying power, according to mature-consumer consultants Age Wave Impact. But frustration is mounting because the $245 billion ad industry still gears only 10 percent of ads toward 50-plus consumers.

Many in the advertising industry believe older audiences are loyal to brands and set in their ways.

But, Lippert explains, these baby boomers have changed the perception of age. The new members of the 50-and-up club are trendier than past generations and are willing to spend money.

In fact, they have a stranglehold over certain industries. Baby boomers make 80 percent of luxury travel purchases, 58 percent of luxury auto sales, 41 percent of all new car and truck sales, 77 percent of prescription drug sales and 61 percent of over-the-counter drug sales.

One of the 77 million baby boomers reaches 50 every seven seconds, according to Age Wave. The over-50 group is already 79 million strong — 28 percent of the U.S. population. By 2020, it will be 36 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau.