AARP Calls Out Adland For Stereotypical Portrayals Of Older Americans

AARP, in collaboration with Getty Images, is issuing a call-to-action to agencies and brands to reject stereotypes associated with aging in media. The firms outlined its proposals during an Advertising Week presentation today in New York City.

The advocacy group is introducing the "Disrupt Aging Collection" to encourage brands, designers, ad agencies and other industry players to shift away from creating misconceptions of aging in ad campaigns.

The hope is that more brands and agencies will use a new collection of more than 1,400 images archived by Getty Images that portray more active lifestyles of older Americans.

"The collection shows the 50+ in the workplace, traveling, entertaining and living active, healthy lives,” explains Martha Boudreau, AARP’s Chief Communications & Marketing Officer. “It’s definitely time for the creative industries to update their mindset about the 50+ demographic."



AARP's research underscores what they feel are current advertising inaccuracies. First, most advertising is, unsurprisingly, youth-obsessed. While 46% of the U.S. adult population is over 50, only 15% of media imagery reflects this age group. Additionally, the AARP analysis found that consumers 50+ are often portrayed as "dependent" or "socially isolated." And although one in three people in the work force are over 50, only 13% of the images showed this age group in a work setting.

There have been some small changes related to seniors as it seems the industry is reconsidering many of its past misconceptions, such as females and diversity. Searches for “senior/seniors,” for instance, have increased 151% year-over-year from June 2018 to June 2019, according to Getty Images.

Also, research finds advertisers are increasingly moving away from images depicting grouchy, unhappy seniors. Searches for fun with friends and family, happy and celebratory moments that involve others have shown significant increases.

More information on the call to action can be found here.

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