Creative work from brands that embrace marketing to the over-50s: Becks, what3words, JD Williams and Amazon

Creative work from brands that embrace marketing to the over-50s: Becks, what3words, JD Williams and Amazon

From beer to parties to headphones and sledges, something is changing in how we are marketing to the over 50’s.

Traditionally, this is a cohort of individuals who haven’t been particularly well served by the marketing industry - either being overlooked or misjudged. But the tide is starting to change, and the industry is starting to respond with campaigns that show this audience in all their glorious true colours.

Take, for instance, a powerful campaign from Becks in Brazil. They acted on the insight that as we get older, our taste buds change, so they developed a beer with a sharper taste specifically targeting the over 70’s market. Becks Silver was launched with an incredible ad featuring a woman trying to buy it in a convenience store and being asked for ID to check she was old enough – did she qualify as an over 70? Humorous, glamorous, aspirational beer-drinking women of any age are practically never seen in advertising, so this ad has challenged a whole load of stereotypes about what it means to be older. It’s about time!!

Humour is also a huge part of a recent campaign from what3words.

It shows someone in their 20s whose home deliveries seem to have gone missing. He pops around to his neighbours to ask them to keep a lookout in case they end up at the wrong address. The woman who answers the door fits the stereotype of an older person, sweet, almost granny-like. 

Just when you think this is going to be a similar story of a confused older person bamboozled by a tech-savvy youngster, the script is flipped and it looks like the older woman is, in fact, in the driving seat, taking the stuff for herself and her husband, who are making good use of the neighbour’s box-fresh trainers and headphones. Again, busting the stereotypes of how old people think, feel and even what they wear.

Fashion brand JD Williams does a brilliant job of showing how misguided, outdated and frankly insulting the stereotypes can be.

“We have lost our style, forgotten how to party, are probably past it”, says the voiceover for the film showing women who are anything but. Vibrant, happy and frankly just up for it – images of older women rarely seen in marketing, but clearly there is a place for them.

And a big cheer to Relate, the relationship support charity, who last year, ran a ‘safer sex’ campaign for an older audience. ‘Horniculture’ used gardening to educate a 60-plus audience about how they can stop the spread of STIs. In its research, it discovered that the over 65’s said sex was their favourite activity (44%) followed by seeing family and gardening! So they used a garden centre to spread the word, creating a range of vegetable seed packet condoms in the last place you would expect them.

Finally, Amazon’s Christmas 2023 ad.

It features three older women, clearly lifelong friends, watching young kids enjoying sledging in the park.

Not letting age get in the way of anything and instead being canny enough to work out how they can make a sledge ride smoother, one of the women gets on her Amazon app and orders some cushioning so the women too can get on their sledges and whizz through the snow, much to the admiration of the kids watching. Simple, true and, more than anything, not patronising,

So, what can the over 50’s expect to see from brands in 2024?

Well if this latest crop is anything to go by, some empathetic, rich, varied storytelling where age is but a number and not a defining characteristic. 

Although the latest research by Anything But Grey shows that there is still work to be done - with more than three quarters (77%) of UK over-50s feeling that brands don’t represent their needs in marketing – maybe the focus for 2024 is to ensure that campaigns like these become the norm and not the exception.

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