Images of silver-haired grandparents sedately waiting at home for family to arrive should have been stamped out years ago. Yet, research reveals, ageism is still alive and kicking in the world of advertising. Instead of showing people aged 50 plus working and enjoying active lives, many were shown as dependent or socially isolated – stereotypes seniors say are a turn-off when it comes to choosing brands. But now, thanks to a new initiative aimed at stamping out typecasting associated with aging in the media, things could be about to change. Getty Images, one of the world’s leading photo agencies, has launched the Disrupt Aging Collection, providing 1400 images portraying the active lifestyles of those 50 and over.
Correcting the record
“By telling real life stories of adults aged 50 to 100 through visuals depicting everyday experiences, The Disrupt Aging Collection illustrates the fact that older adults live increasingly full lives, while simultaneously combatting ageist biases and assumptions,” says Dr Rebecca Swift, Getty’s global head of creative insights.
Photographers employed by the agency will be issued with guidelines to emphasize positives, like independence, empowerment and dignity. “At Getty Images we understand that visuals can significantly impact how people think and act, as well as whether potential consumers develop emotional connections with brands,” Swift adds.
Swift says Getty has seen a significant upswing in customer searches for images of seniors having fun with family and friends, being happy and celebrating milestones. Yet a study of 1000 images showed that while 46 per cent of the population is over 50, only 15 per cent of media images reflected that age group. And even though one in three of the American labor force is 50 plus, only 13 per cent of images showed them at work.
The economic power of 50+
Getty is collaborating with AARP on the Disrupt Aging Collection, which conducted the research. The non-profit’s 2016 Longevity Economy Research Initiative showed that the 50 plus generate $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity — meaning brands and advertisers are missing out on major revenue. Research showed 80 percent of the over 50s said marketers assumed lifestyles based on stereotypes and 62 per cent would consider switching to brands that better represent seniors. That research also stands true of people aged 18 and over – 71 percent said they were more likely to buy from brands that feature of mixture of ages.
Hopefully this effort and others will make sure one ad in particular – possibly the most ageist of all time – will never see the light of day again. Read about it here.
For more information on the survey go to: https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2019/womens-reflections-beauty-age-media.html
Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash