Advertising and Older Consumers: Image and Ageism
In past years the market that most advertisers aimed towards was the Gen X group. Now many advertisers are shooting at the even younger Generation Y. The interesting thing is that many of these products advertised are items that all generations use, such as food, soft drinks, clothing, cars, entertainment, etc. Rarely are older generations revealed using these products in print ads or commercials.
This creates the issue to advertisers that they stereotype older generations and reinforce society’s misconception that people over 50 are feeble, pitiable, or incompetent. In many cases advertisers do just this. Remember the commercial for Lifecall emergency alert device in the early 90’s where the elderly Ms. Fletcher fell in her bathroom and, while lying there helpless, she calls out, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Despite the importance of this product to seniors who live alone, the commercial quickly became the brunt of many jokes, including skits on Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show. Could Lifecall have designed a better advertising campaign that would not have alienated or mocked its target market?
This brings up the question of whether advertisers have a responsibility to change the mindset that being over 50 is old? Are they responsible to change the way society views 50+? Can they even change society’s views of 50+? Absolutely! By utilizing cross-generational advertising, marketers can benefit the consumers, companies, advertisers, and society as a whole.