50+ and loving it!
I'm not sure whether to be heartened or despairing about the feature in the Times this week which reported on research done by a team at mega marketing and communications agency, J Walter Thompson. It talked about traditional stereotyping of women by the advertising industry, and the fact that 91 percent of women believe that advertisers don't understand them and 58 percent are positively annoyed at how they're portrayed. Yup.
On the plus side, the woman heading up the research, Rachel Pashley, who has the fascinating title of Planning Lead, Female Tribes, says this:
"...brands can no longer rely on their beloved tropes that dictate that all women in their twenties are searching for a man, all women in their thirties and forties are harassed mums and all 50-plus women are 'doting grandmothers'. That life script is dead. My mother-in-law is in her seventies and goes to festivals and dresses in Topshop and Asos, but the retail market still has her down as wearing a beige fleece and want her to disappear".
Well three cheers for that (not the beige fleece and disappearing bit, obviously).....if, of course, anybody in the advertising or marketing business pays a blind bit of notice to it. I've done more presentations to those industries than I can count, urging them to recognise the dynamism, energy, inquisitiveness and adventurousness of the 50+ audience, all of which were met with anything ranging from surprise to incredulity. And all of which made little or no difference at all to the pervading, and frankly idiotic, attitudes towards this audience. Enraged? Moi?
But I have another, different, beef with that statement as well (I'll stop ranting in a minute, promise). Who is that says that 'doting grandmothers', or grandfathers for that matter, can't be Topshop-wearing festival goers AS WELL?
I don't know about you, but I struggle, not just with the infuriating perspective that all of us 50+ year olds are past it, but also that just because we're one thing (ie a grandparent), that somehow rules us out of being any other thing (ie a fashion loving festival goer). I very much hope to go to festivals along with my yet-to-be-born grandchildren, and to take them clothes shopping (if the high street still exists) and buy things for them and me in the same shops.
And I really, really hope that as they grow up, the idea of the older generation being anything other than fully engaged and engaging and up for anything is as anachronistic as the thought of life before the internet is to our children.
Our generation have been rule-breakers and pioneers at every stage of our lives, and we are going to go on challenging/throwing out/re-framing expectations of how we live and love until we're done. And the sooner industries like advertising, marketing and retail recognise that, the better.
What do you think about the way the 50+ audience is represented in advertising? Do you feel the advertising, marketing and retail industries serve your needs and interests? Let me know if you feel the same as I do!
Other posts you'll enjoy