Is advertising a young person’s game?

As an old (ageing) adman myself, I have often claimed that advertising is a ‘young person’s game’.

Now campaign magazine aims to add substance to the instinct with a survey on ageism in the business.

kimwalkerWhen I recently examined this subject, the average age of marketing people in the UK and in Australia was around 33 years. So attitudes aside, there is a definite age-skew in the business.

I suspect much of this has to do with the dwindling margins – it’s cheaper to hire younger people – as it does with consciously ageist policies. But I certainly welcome the debate and the outcome of the survey.

Where I think this issue is most relevant is in the creation of messages to persuade the consumer audience. Most developed economies now have around 3 in 10 of their consumers over the age of 60. By the year 2030 that will rise to 4 in 10. So there is a clear and critical need to have people capable of communicating at ‘eye level’ with this lucrative ageing consumer.

Why can’t young people do it?

We can devise messaging and images that appeal to younger groups largely because we have either affinity or direct experience. We’ve all been teenagers at one stage. But nobody (except the mature) has experience at being ‘older’. To imagine the impact of what the fullness of live serves up. To know the loneliness that often accompanies the retreat from business life into retirement or the feeling when your children leave home. To communicate effectively with the growing number of relatively wealthy people who are going through these phases, requires an older, more empathetic┬ámind.

Excluding people from advertising on the basis of age therefore is not just ageist, it will directly impact on the ability of an agency to do what it’s supposed to do. To communicate and persuade its audience.

I urge you to take the Campaign survey here.