Wrinkled Wisdom – The Advertising Industry Has a Problem

We hate ads. We’re not alone. People of all ages hate ads. Companies worldwide spend more than $300 billion annually on advertising that over 90 percent of us pretty much ignore! People also complain that ads today are more intrusive. No kidding. We’re bombarded on television, Facebook, YouTube, apps, games, and even old fashioned billboards.

We will admit to enjoying some humor in ads and those featuring “our” music. Loved learning that most ads for wristwatches have them set to 10:10. That way, the hands frame the brand name and create a smiley face.

And, yes, we do raise our heads and look at the TV when commercials feature classic rock. California Raisins once used Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Carnival Cruises once used Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea. But, Geico made a blooper using the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider to promote its motorcycle insurance. Duane Allman and the band’s bassist were both killed in motorcycle accidents. Oops!

We are especially ticked by the ageism that is alive and well in advertising. What’s the key to marketing to us?  Use some common sense. Don’t call us old in the ad. We also aren’t excited about being called seniors citizens, elders, or even boomers. Okay, got to admit those terms are better than the days when people our age were labeled geezers, codgers, duffers, and old farts.   

A recent focus group came up with calling us advisers, coaches, wise ones, masters, experienced, and seasoned citizens. Huh?? Seasoned? What are we, food?

The view of the human race would be distorted if it were based on primetime advertising alone. You barely see older people. Only about five percent of U.S. advertising focuses on people over 50. Fifty! Apparently, we don’t exist… except for Depend diapers and ads for drugs that reportedly improve memory.

Yet, in a study polling people of all ages asking when you’re too old to do things like go back to school, start your own business, or date romantically, an overwhelming majority answered that you’re never too old. So there. Quit focusing on age as an indicator of consumer habits.

America does have an obsession with youth so most marketers focus on millennials and Gen Zers. Not smart! Not only do they not have the big bucks; apparently, they are not very loyal to products and services. Ageism in ads could be the consequence of the average age of employees in the advertising industry…34.  Hey, run some of your ideas past mom and dad!

Ignore us at your own peril! There are lots of us and we’ve got money! Respect “seasoned” citizens!

Eureka!  How about ads that focus on our actual needs and lifestyles instead of our age? This would increase the ad’s appeal to all potential buyers. Heck, we eat in and dine out. We drink alcohol. We wear clothes and wash them. We take care of our lawns. We update our homes. We use hair products and lotions. We exercise. We own computers and cell phones. How else would we communicate with the younger relatives? And, we buy lots of stuff at the pharmacy like everyone else for the sniffles and headaches, in addition to the Rogaine for our thinning hair.

Laughing over a number of news articles recently talking about Facebook and Google banning ads for sexual wellness products aimed at people over 50. Are their employees aghast that “seasoned” citizens are having sex?? Read the stats, millennials. ED can hit at any age!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Social media gives us a voice to criticize condescending and stereotypical ads. Let ‘em have it on Facebook. Boycott brands whose ads tick you off. Don’t underestimate our clout! Yelling obscenities at the TV doesn’t do a thing, but sure makes us feel better. Smile when you see age-appropriate actors pushing products. Otherwise, hit the mute button and tackle a crossword puzzle till the show comes back on. Oh, and, could we dump the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” ad? It’s been on and off TV for 33 years. How about, um, I ate too many edibles and can’t get off the couch!

2 thoughts on “Wrinkled Wisdom – The Advertising Industry Has a Problem

  1. Jen says:

    Fun column–this topic came up during the Super Bowl last night.

    Stunned to see all the 1/2 time celebs 50 + …Dr Dre, Snoop ,50 Cent ,Mary J Blige ..and the neat vintage cars over 50.

    Also, those famous ads featured seasoned pros –most 50 ish. Larry David 74!
    It made me wonder ????

    Like

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