Out of Order

What Drives Me Crazy


What drives me crazy is the way that women over 60 years are portrayed in advertising. If you have not seen the latest commercial from Wendy’s about their breakfast sandwich you are lucky.

Featuring three frumpy-looking older women, one continuously asks “Where’s the bacon?” with a bewildered look on her face. Wow, who thinks up this s**t.

The Real Truth About Older Women

The women that I know this age, don’t resemble the tropes we see in the commercial; they are well dressed, take care of themselves, and do meaningful things with their lives!! The last thing that they are worried about is how much bacon there is in a breakfast sandwich. It suggests that these women are infantile and ask the questions that “smart” people confidently assume.

This is purely ageist. It is not ok to portray older women as clueless and worried about insignificant issues. Such stigmatic thinking allows stereotypes to go unquestioned, especially when there is a huge gap in the representation of older women and age-positive thinking.

The Power of People in Their Third Act

According to the latest Canadian census, 25% of the Canadian population will be over 65 years by 2035. Are they all going to be wandering around looking for more bacon!! If marketers don’t get their act together, they are going to lose the attention of a very large proportion of the population. Talking down to this sizeable group is a sure-fire way to lose their consumer dollars.

As we age, our cognitive capabilities change. (Check out last month’s blog: Success is the Next Part of Your Life). While we may not be able to learn the latest computer software as quickly as teens, we are far more adept at problem-solving using experience. We look at things differently from our younger counterparts but that is a good thing. In businesses and society, there are many challenging issues, and active older people will bring different perspectives to the solutions. Businesses are talking about how diversity and inclusion make for a better company. Age diversity should be added to the BIPOC discussion.

Get On Board Marketers or Get Run Over

The first place where age diversity should be mandatory is in marketing and advertising. Building a brand should not come at the expense of any group of people. In the book Emotion by Design, Greg Hoffman the past CMO of Nike, arguably one of the world’s great marketers says “Empathy is what turns good brands into great brands. Use your broader vision to gain a greater understanding of the world and the people beyond your own experience1. When talking about building a marketing team he says “diversity is oxygen”2.

The time is now to point out and object to insulting ageist communications. Tell me below what are the marketing messages that you feel misrepresent you.

1Emotion by Design Creative Leadership Lessons from a Lifetime at Nike by Greg Hoffman Pg 60
2Ibid pg.35