Picture this: better photos of older people

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   

Have you ever changed a brand preference because of the way the ads portrayed older people?
  • Yolande L Matthews

    the picture of family scenes or older couples are what I notice. Of which I am not one of. when the show older singles it is always fr something depressing.Once again I am not of that group. I come from a group which is still looking to find others whom they are alike. I enjoy walking yet not hiking in the woods every week. Good foods and new places to learn about. Not the same place constantly
    Verity is my style. Has been for the past seventy and will be forever. Now to meet other as myself.to see others who are active and willing to learn.
    I like the new ads that show inclusiveness. the old and the young dancing. We need not just dance in the nursing home. We are alive and doing what we can with what we have.

  • Joy

    Advertisers need to show diversity more. People always like to be shown in a positive way no matter a person age .

  • Beth

    You must know better. We’re old enough to know appearances are our uninked tattoos.

    Portraying seniors in a “better” light is for corporate reasons, advertising,

    Shame on you for making this appear as a plus. It’s a form of manipulation. It’s one thing to do this with younger people, but us olds???

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