In a marketing industry obsessed with youth, it is probably career and social suicide to admit THAT I JUST HAD MY SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY. There, I said it.
Do I feel any different? Apart from the proverbial one day closer to death, no. But that’s not how many marketeers see it. Cue spam emails and direct mail shots on everything from retirement and inheritance planning to erectile dysfunction. As one of my planners put it, we do like to put people in boxes.
My favourite wearable brands include Adidas (68 years old), Ben Sherman (54 years old) and Paul Smith (opened first shop almost fifty years ago). My favourite brand in the world is Gibson (the company is 115 years old and the Les Paul is an old age pensioner at 65). Your body clock doesn’t click over another year and suddenly you are in the market for elasticated gardening trousers.
Brands from Adidas to Netflix to Bowie defy the traditional “people in boxes” approach to demographics. But a lot of marketing hasn’t cottoned on. Possibly because planning departments are full of Millennials who see the world through their eyes rather than through the diverse and increasingly complex world’s eyes.
Average life expectancy in the UK is now over eighty. Lumping the over sixties together is similar to saying you will like and consume the same stuff at twenty as when you celebrate your Big Four O, and so will everyone else in that age group. Or Millennials in their carefree early twenties are exactly the same as mid thirties Millennials with a growing family and a mortgage.
Then there are the ageist attitudes in our industry so eloquently talked about by my IPG colleague Nicky Bullard, chair of MRM-Meteorite, in her “shocking idiotic prejudice” speech at Eurobest last December (see earlier post below). Not only for dismissing experience and insight gleaned over successful careers of achievement and leadership, but also failing to understand truths such as a third of all tablets in the UK are in the hands of the over fifties, and within twenty years that older demographic will control 75% of wealth in this country. It’s about the technology and the money, stupid.
So with the defiant air of Keith Richards posing with that “I survived 2016″ sign I say f*** you to ageism and the stereotypes and sit back with a glass of fine wine I would neither have truly appreciated or been able to afford at 21.