Welcome to the Age Bridge Award #2. While we’re all fighting something more immediately important than ageism right now it is heartening, nonetheless, to start to see some really exemplary work that pushes the boundaries in a few distinct New Old segments.
This month we reviewed ads in the insurance, digital wearables, over 50s living, incontinence pads and underwear categories. And although these products fall in the “usual suspects” category, when it comes to older adults, the work is stand-out and deserves to be celebrated.
Winner: Ageless by AMV BBDO for Tena
The Stable: If one’s first response about any commercial is the most pertinent, I’d like to submit my first response to this month’s Ad Bridge Award winner, Ageless, by AMV BBDO for Tena: “Personally, it’s annoying that older women in ads are always on the heavy side (there’s one woman who isn’t in this spot). But this ad by AMV BBDO for Tena is so brave and such an outstanding rebellion against attitudes and stereotypes about older women that it would be churlish to whinge about it. I hope this is the ad that shows all agencies what it means to understand and relate to older audiences. I hope it will be seen as the ad that changed everything. It deserves that.”
Fifty Not Out: The Tena work is deserving because the brand didn’t need to go near sex at all. It took a bold client to do that. Sex is an occasion when incontinent people feel highly vulnerable. To be able to imply that older people still want to fuck like teenagers but just can’t squeeze their sphincter as tight as they once could, is an honest take on the normal ageing process. Anyone who finds it yucky has not had to deal with incontinence – yet.
Honourable Mention: Pioneering a New Way of Living, VMLY&R Auckland for Ryman Healthcare
The Stable: A commercial for a retirement village chain that doesn’t rely on pity or compassion? Brilliant. This was my first response. And the campaign by VMLY&R Auckland for Ryman Healthcare, New Zealand’s largest retirement village operator has so much more to commend it. It heroes the individuality of the older generation. It heroes the older generation, full stop. It’s not real life, but neither are the stereotypes it defies. The intention of this commercial, presenting older people as dynamic, exuberant and stylish; its left-of-field creativity; and its positive attitude received our enthusiastic applause.
Fifty Not Out: Usually when companies try and depict older adults as “happening”, they go the “freak show” route – where the old guy is sporting a six-pack and excelling in some extreme sport and the woman has perfect skin and hair and can still rock a bikini. This approach is almost as unrealistic and lame as the clichéd opposite. In the Ryman spot, though, the (real) talent come off looking alive, interesting and attractive, as humans. Yes, this is an ad for an aged care home, but Ryman is trying to reshape views on what this can mean … for when we all get old.
Honourable Mention: Age Doesn’t Matter – A Message from Knix, created in-house
The Stable: Again, allow me to reprint my first response: “Women are still not allowed to give a fuck. Older women especially. Women over 50 are supposed to bemoan their bodies, conceal, stress over and try to change them by all means possible. They’re also meant to be invisible. Ads for underwear don’t bother talking to them; older bodies are not sexy; older women don’t “look good naked”; they’re not the target market. Until now. Knix is talking to women over 50 and very boldly telling them they’re AOK as they are.” Yes, it’s Dove, take 2. It’s nonetheless an important step forward for older women. For that, it deserves kudos.
Fifty Not Out: Meet the New Power Consumer: Women aged over 50 who are embracing who they are. Not necessarily what advertisers traditionally want them to be. Knix has done a great job of positioning themselves between the practical and affordable (Bonds) and the provocative and expensive (Victoria’s Secret) and giving the consumer permission to be a little bit of both. The cast here is relatively multi-generational, but smartly skewed to the market that can afford to splurge: 50+. Well done, Knix.