The person in the photo above is 62 years of age. She’s not a typical oldie yet, but her tribe is growing. She’s a baby boomer who didn’t buy into the stereotypes. She knows how to use a mobile phone – for everything. She isn’t getting flabby. She’s no less able to do anything than she was at twenty-five. And her goal isn’t to sit outside her Winnebago with a cup of tea, or even a glass of wine, watching the sunset.
She’s age-less. At least, that’s how she sees it.
As marketers and advertising people, you don’t connect with her. It’s impossible to know what it’s like to be old until you are old, and all of you, or nearly all of you statistically, are not there yet so you rely on stereotypes. Note sentence three, above.
“It’s impossible to know what it’s like to be old until you are old.” That’s a big statement. You have data. But you see, data has a tendency to tell you what you think you know already. Your data tells you oldies are enthusiastic travellers. You see a river cruise. We see trekking in the Andes. Your data tells you oldies are into the health and wellbeing. You see a slow walk. We see long distance cycling. And so on.
Lynley, 57, has also just graduated as a lawyer
Baby Boomers are 24% of the population in Australia. Our tribe has the potential to become as valuable as it is underrated.
I began the Instagram account, age_less_always, a few months ago. It has begun to collect tribe members and supporters, but my main game was, and is, to present my tribe to you. To see if I can get you to understand, and value, it. So I asked Sheree (da Costa) Zellner if I could make a short doco with her. She’s the epitome of age-less. And as luck would have it (I asked her first and Sydney Dance Company asked her second), she has been invited to return to her role as a Sydney Dance Company principal for its 50th anniversary celebration.
Free The Bid filmmaker, Liv Watson, directed the film. I am hugely grateful that she agreed to do that. Her enthusiasm for the project, her ideas and just being awesome to work with, were a godsend.
Here’s the film:
Of course, ageism spreads its tendrils much further than the creative industries. The media reports relentlessly about the decline of age, in both serious stories and in passing. Like the latest fad diet, they become “true” because they’re told and retold over and over. Nanna naps, granny undies, senior moments – these have become part of the vernacular and the ideas behind them part of pop culture.
So to anyone out there who is old and not yet age-less: Say, “I can.” Because if we older people say we can’t, then everyone else will think we can’t too.
To everyone else: “Don’t think that we don’t have goals and ambitions – and by god, we’ve earned them. We just have less time to achieve them.” [Sheree Zellner]
And to advertising and marketing: That diversity you’re so ardent to achieve? Why is age not included?
The person in the cover image is me. [ed]