I’m always amused when clever young things at ad agencies rediscover topics and stories that are as old as the hills, with the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed conviction that they are the first to do so. One story that’s been going round and round and round and round like a broken record (showing my age here) is the one about the 50+ generation.
The latest study to cop onto the fact that over-50s hold 99.9% of the wealth but are only featured in 0.1% of the ads (or whatever the latest figures are) is The Invisible Powerhouse from MullenLowe Group UK.
I know I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to blabbing on about this stuff - and I can recommend this report in that it’s well put-together and thought through. There’s a useful segmentation based on approach to life which I can see having application.
Why do the old chestnuts still persist? “You’ll become invisible” “Older people are either portrayed as frail old dears or 90-year-old sky-diving super-heroes” “Old people don’t think of themselves as old” “It’s important because - gasp! - we’ll all be old one day” “Age does not define them”
There’s a certain lack of logic in it all, though. If Age is not Identity, if In our Minds, none of us is Old, if A 60-year-old Happy-Clappy-Activist has more in common with a 20-year-old Happy-Clappy-Activist than a 60-year-old Karen Brexit-Gammon, then ...
Why the heck should representation on the basis of age be so important?
I can identify with a 25-year-old man or quite honestly, an ageless, sexless cartoon character in an ad if it hits the nail on the head about a desire or need I have - and is presented in an entertaining way.
Maybe the real insight here is not “we’re all going to be old one day” but “all old people have been young, but no young people have been old” (not going to get into Buddhism here). I suspect that is where this is all going wrong.
By the way, if you’re an over-50 yourself, you might need your reading glasses for the Mullen Lowe report if you’re looking at it on the laptop. It’s a tiny typeface.