The Society Concludes Super Bowl Ads Overwhelming Juvenile

Members of The Society (, professionals from every discipline in the field of aging, cast their ballots Sunday evening on criteria they developed to rate the Super Bowl Ads.

The highest-rated ad, according to The Society professionals was the Budweiser Clydesdales with a clear universal message that told a delightful story of the donkey that could. The ad was values based rather than aged based. It resonated with every demo from the youngest viewer to the oldest.

The second highest rated ad according to criteria used was IBM's "shake up the future" using Muhammad Ali as a wise and seasoned man that encourages a younger person to 'shake up the world.' The ad was ageless, creative, told a story that was memorable for IBM.

Ranking third highest among The Society members was the story of a younger men getting ready for work. A younger man arrives for a job interview with an older man revealing a powerful lifestyle and the value connection between the generations.



The worst ad according all Society members was the ageist ad created for Frito Lay Potato Chips that cast older people in an unfavorable light by invoking negative stereotypical images. The sophomoric humor displayed in the Lays Potato Chip advertisement denigrates the New Customer Majority. The portrayal of an elderly couple grappling for a bag of chips on the floor with a cane and a set of dentures in hand depicts Gen S as physically disabled and mentally impaired. The fact that the commercial message closes with a young man stealing the 'prized chips' out of the hands of the elderly gentleman only adds insult to injury as it represents Gen X as totally disrespectful.

The insensitive offensive, ageist advertisement according to Society members exemplifies Madison Avenue's inability to understand and effectively market to the New Customer Majority. Society members challenged the management leadership that allowed that creative message to get approved let alone costing Frito Lay $2.3 millions dollars

Other general comments expressed by Society members was how Cadillac ads on the Super Bowl were age based - targeting the under 40 demo to the exclusion of potential customers 40+ that helped make the brand succeed and grow. A similar brand strategy made by Oldsmobile ultimately killed the brand.

All Society members were asked in the criteria if they would buy the product or service advertised - most stated they would not especially in both automotive and motion pictures categories that were promoted.

A Consensus among The Society members was that most of the commercial messages were overwhelming juvenile and 'infantile in appeal.' The Society members commented on the car commercials whose theme was concentrated on power and speed and all action motion pictures targeting teenage audiences to the total exclusion of the 40-plus-customer majority.

The most astounding statement in a commercial message was for Cialis (drug for ED) "If an erection lasts more than 4 hours, see a doctor immediately.'

For a copy of the criteria used by The Society to rate the Super Bowl Commercials or for a copy of the list of Society members contact

Vicki Thomas, a Society member, is president of marketing agency Thomas & Partners, Westport, CT

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