I May Be Old and Slower But I Know Bullshit When I See It

Today’s youth are really not that much different at their core than previous generations.  We were just as susceptible to marketing ploys that enticed us to brand loyalties back then as the kids today are.  But we gain something as we get older that drives advertisers nuts.

gettingold

No doubt there are negatives about getting old but there is at least one positive thing we gain that time gives us

 

In an article I read recently in an AARP Bulletin, entitled “Selling Older Consumers Short”  by David Wallis we are told by the author and some other experts that old people get no respect from advertisers.  Wallis quotes Dilip V. Jeste, associate dean for healthy aging and senior care at the University of California, San Diego who tells us,

“Older people are kind of written off by advertisers, as if these people are not important [and] don’t buy anything. It’s unfortunate that older people themselves buy into it.”

The American Association of Retired People claims it’s a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization to “help people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives.”  Anyone who has spent anytime reading much of the material AARP makes available to this older population, including its nascent boomer-focused AARP Magazine, comes to understand that improving the quality of their life entails a lot of marketing ads aimed at getting them to spend some of their hard-earned money.  So I’m a little skeptical when they publish an article about sales to elders from a source that makes their money off of their commercial endeavors and alignments with companies they give their stamp of approval too.

I’m a part of that generation that Wallis speaks to and it came as no surprise to me when I read that “many older adults … tune out ads”.  Now I can’t speak for everyone who is over 50 but I tune out ads, and I think many would agree with me, not because we get no respect from advertisers but because we can see bullshit easier and quicker than we did when we were younger.

Wallis, I think, has either ignored or is in denial about something more relevant which I feel exists between many old people and Madison Avenue con men (and women).  We have learned through our extended years that much of the claims made by marketers are for the most part pure cow manure.

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We have invested too much time and money in products over the years that promise to make us feel more youthful, be more popular, improve our sex life and make us wealthier, only to discover their promises fall way short.  During this time too many of us have learned that true happiness in all things is really more a matter of attitude that we cultivate over the years.

Before old people had their lives crushed by what life throws at us we too became brand loyalists and consumer-oriented citizens.  As a result I think we tended to confuse the happiness in the ads of young people who appeared happier when they used this soap or that mouth wash or wore that brand of clothes.  It wasn’t the products per se but simply the reality that clean habits and a nice wardrobe are less likely to offend the people we want to associate with.  Marketers equated character with their product but only time teaches you how to become patient, tolerant and willing to put in the time to achieve one’s goals.

This is the bullshit of advertisers today.  Trying to associate their products with human acts of kindness, bravery, morality and other Scout virtues. It’s an exploitation of our humanity to turn a profit.  Meanwhile the real need for more people to actually be kind, brave and moral is given little fanfare in a consumer world that creates barriers between the have and have-nots based on ownership policies that are dictated by a wealthy plutocracy

Now to be sure, there are many young adults who are not swept up in the consumer madness that has them maxing out there credit cards before they’re 30.  These people have probably had mentors in their life that made a distinct impression on them about the pain of being broke in old age and the threat to our environment with consuming habits that leave few places where we can dispose of all our trash.   And on the flip side I know there are many old people who still fall prey to the enticement of ads that promise them health and wealth.

But on par, Madison Avenue and their imitators across the globe know that their money is often wasted trying to con someone who has learned through living a long life that promises too good to be true are in fact that – too good to be true.   Wallis is delusional at some level to think that older people as a rule will revert to the mindless buying habits of their youth if marketers will just give them the some semblance of respect.

People like Wallis, Dilip V. Jeste and Madison Avenue ad people need to come terms with the reality that older people are not likely to ignore the lessons that most have learned by the time we’ve turned 50, 60 or 70. I think most in my generation are beyond keeping the myth alive along with some in the younger generation that our futures for health, wealth and love lie in “the next big thing” found on store shelves of retail outlets, new car lots or clinics catering to anatomy changes promoted by the market gurus of youth and beauty.

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13 responses to “I May Be Old and Slower But I Know Bullshit When I See It

  1. Out of interest, Larry, have you ever read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi? It’s a fun read. The first sentence is: “I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.”

  2. if Madison avenue talked to me, they would all jump out of their collective NYC windows and plummet to their deaths…I tend to not buy things that are advertised…lol…mostly because they never tell me much that I actually want to know about a product…

  3. Older people are targeted a lot in advertising over here, because they are the ones with the money. They’ve paid off their mortgages, their kids have left home, and they generally have good pensions. You can’t move on ITV for images of sprightly pensioners travelling to far-flung places, living it up in luxury hotels and buying cars for their grandchildren. And there are loads playing on the guilt nerve, pointing out that they ought to pay for their funerals now. People are always willing to chase some kind of dream. You just have to sell them the right dream.

    • “People are always willing to chase some kind of dream. You just have to sell them the right dream.”

      Exactly. And that gets tougher with people who are up there in years. One of the ads I think would appeal to this older, wealthier crowd are the European river cruises that are being marketed over here. Even I would like to make it to Europe at some point in my life and do this sort of thing. But I sure as hell am not going to put it all on my Visa card.

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