If you are over 50 years old, you know it well: most brands stopped talking to you a long time ago. Today advertising campaigns seem focused on young audiences (millennials and centennials) despite the fact that they are not necessarily the generations with the highest purchasing power. This phenomenon seems to be spreading around the world and a study by the MullenLowe Group in England indicates that people over the age of 55 are not happy with the way they are represented by brands.
According to the study, 47% of the UK adult population is over 50 years old and their income represents 69.7% of the household economy. They are the generation that spends the most in practically every category and, despite this, they rarely appear in brand advertising.
According to a report by the Channel 4 television channel, only 12% of advertisements in England show someone over 50 as the protagonist . When they appear, older adults are often caricatured, stereotyped and usually in need of help from young people.
MullenLow’s study says that 88% of 7,373 respondents (all over 55) said they were unhappy with the way advertising portrayed them. In addition, 15% said they felt disappointed or depressed by this situation and 7%, angry.
In an article in The Drum addressing the case for the underrepresentation of older adults in ad campaigns, author Jeremy Hine explains: “It seems that while many of us don’t feel old, the industry intends to overlook the valuable skills that those over 50 have to offer, and that should not be the case. Instead, attitude should be the differentiator, not age, and more needs to be done to change these perceptions.”
Ayesha Walawalkar , one of the strategists at MullenLowe Group commented after the study was completed: “I hope this serves as a wake-up call for advertising. The industry’s goal has always been to elicit emotional responses and create jobs that people can relate to, and if they can’t, we all need to rethink the way we do our jobs.”
The agency presented a project called “Invisible Powerhouse (Invisible Power)” that highlights the attributes of people over 55 years of age and defines seven segments based on personality traits, rather than age. The segments are: supportive conformists, security seekers, smart spenders, carefree hedonists, experience lovers, responsible citizens and social progressives.