The television industry — and the advertisers who fuel it — catered to the post 50 market for decades, creating a true symbiotic relationship. But somewhere along the way, we started to age out of the highly appealing 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Boomers were pushed off the radar screen as soon as we hit 50, watching helplessly from the sidelines as advertisers continued to focus on everyone under 49, who were, weirdly, not ‘us’. It was a paradigm shift we didn’t expect, and certainly didn’t want.

I suppose one could say I’m getting grumpier as I get older . . . but I don’t think that’s the case. (In fact, I’ve never been happier!) All I know is that I’m frustrated by the advertising I see on television and in magazines, especially those that are geared directly to the 45+ market. So, with that in mind, I decided to come up with a Top Ten list of what advertisers should NEVER do, and oh, I hope they are reading. What would you add?

Top Ten Things Marketers Should Never Do (if they want us to buy their products!):

  1. Don’t use humor that belittles us and makes fun of aging, because it won’t be funny and can be a real turnoff.
  2. Don’t try to convince us it’s all about staying young forever. Don’t tell us how we can look younger. Tell us how we can look and feel better.
  3. Don’t use models (male or female) that are half our age or airbrushed to the point where they look like they’re 25 if they’re supposed to be 55. It can be tricky, though, because we don’t want you to use models that portray us as frumpy either.
  4. Don’t use fear in your public message: “Are you worried about …?” Scaring us will not lead to action. However, understand that fear is often a miraculous life-changer. The fear of illness can keep us exercising and eating well. The fear of not having enough money as we age could cause us to investigate financial products more closely. You need to understand the nuance but be careful how to use it in your marketing message.
  5. Don’t focus on what’s wrong or needs help due to aging; rather, focus on the benefits or rewards of the product or service. Don’t try to “fix” us, as if growing older were an undesirable state of being, or an incurable disease.
  6. Don’t be shy about viewing us as sexually active beings. The “Fifty Shades of Grey” books opened up a great opportunity for all of us –consumers, marketers, and content developers–to talk about sex after 50. And just because we’re over 50 doesn’t mean we’re only interested in Viagra.
  7. Don’t talk only to the man in the family. Turns out that women (and this is absolutely true in my home) decide how the money should be spent, on what brands, where they should travel and stay, even which cars should be bought. And, we’re buying things for all our kids who are returning home to live with us, too.
  8. Don’t think traditional media is the only vehicle. Think about YouTube channels and web TV as very interesting ways to engage and connect. After all, the 50+ market is pushing the growth of social media to new heights.
  9. Don’t assume just because this market watches television that you are reaching us. If a marketer continues to talk directly to the 18-to-49-year-old (with a focus on the 18-to-34-year-old), we will pick up on that, and we will tune you out.
  10. Don’t make us feel like we’re over the hill, not cool, sexy or smart. Make us feel good about ourselves, and we will watch your shows and buy your products. Trust me.

Check out The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More for tips on living your best life after 50. Staying connected is a powerful tool! Keep me posted on how you’re doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and “tweeting” me on Twitter at @BGrufferman. Check out my weekly columns on AARP and Huffington Post, too. My next book, “The Best of Everything Guide to Your Best Body After 50 (and Beyond)” will be out in 2013!


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