The Disrupt Aging® Collection is key to AARP’s multi-year initiative to reshape the image of aging
NEW YORK— AARP is intensifying its work aimed at rejecting the stereotypes associated with aging in media. As part of a multi-year initiative, the organization is pressing brands, designers, ad agencies and other industry players to change their immediate and long-term attitudes in order to overcome the misconceptions of aging portrayed in ads.
In collaboration with Getty Images, AARP launched The Disrupt Aging® Collection at Advertising Week New York. This program paints a more accurate portrait of how people age in today’s society. The new collection contains more than 1,400 images that challenge stereotypes around aging, portraying the active lifestyle of consumers 50-plus, while telling a more authentic story of how people live as they age.
“This stereotype-shattering collection reflects the reality of what aging looks like today. The collection shows the 50-plus in the workplace, traveling, entertaining and living active, healthy lives,” said Martha Boudreau, AARP EVP Chief Communications & Marketing Officer. “It’s definitely time for the creative industries to update their mindset about the 50-plus demographic. This age group drives our economy and makes new demands on product development and marketing in virtually every industry sector. Our collaboration with Getty is an important step to helping brands more accurately reflect this vast demographic of 110 million Americans.”
“At Getty Images, we understand that visuals can significantly impact how people think and act, as well as whether potential consumers develop emotional connections with brands,” said Dr. Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights, Getty Images. “By telling real life stories of adults aged 50 to 100 through visuals depicting everyday experiences, The Disrupt Aging® Collection illustrates the fact that older adults live increasingly full lives, while simultaneously combating ageist biases and assumptions.”
“Armed with AARP’s diverse insights, we developed guidelines for our contributing photographers which emphasized the need for imagery highlighting positive ideas like independence, dignity and empowerment, while also factoring in mutigenerational relationships and connectivity,” Swift added.
Consumers 50-plus have long been underrepresented in media. An AARP analysis, which reviewed a sample of more than 1,000 images, found that while 46 percent of the U.S. adult population is over 50, only 15 percent of media imagery reflects this age group. Additionally, the analysis found that consumers 50-plus are often portrayed as dependent or socially isolated, and that while 1 in 3 people in the U.S. labor force are 50 and older, only 13 percent of the images showed this age group in a work setting.
And yet, demand is on the upswing. Getty Images has seen a significant increase in customer searches for people of retirement age. Searches for “senior/seniors” increased 151 percent year-over-year from June 2018 to June 2019. The largest, and perhaps most notable shifts relate to the emotional health of older people, Swift said. Searches for fun with friends and family, happy and celebratory moments that involve others have been trending with increases two to tenfold year-over-year.
Additionally, diversity in advertising likely holds universal appeal, given that AARP research found that 71 percent of people 18-plus are more likely to buy from brands that feature a mix of ages in their ads. Something Boudreau referred to as a “win-win” for businesses.
With that in mind, AARP’s efforts are also aimed at educating industry leaders, brands and agencies about the economic value driven by the growing 50-plus market through its proprietary Longevity Economy® research initiative. According to the Longevity Economy 2016 report, people 50 and older generate $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity, and by 2032, this market is expected to drive more than half of the U.S. gross domestic product. If brands and advertisers view 50-plus consumers according to the stereotypes that are portrayed in the media, they are missing out on the revenue that come from meeting the needs of this powerful age group.
AARP research found that 80 percent of people age 50 and up say that marketers assume their lifestyle based on stereotypes and 62 percent would consider switching to a brand that represents people their age.
With Millennials turning 50 in just ten years, AARP is committed to a long term initiative to shape a new image of aging, which includes ongoing research as well as industry activities at Advertising Week New York and will continue with the release of the 2019 Longevity Economy® report in December 2019 and activations at CES and SXSW in 2020, among others. For more information on AARP’s multi-year campaign, visit: www.aarp.org/newimageofaging.
To view, license and use the photos from The Disrupt Aging® collection visit www.gettyimages.com/collections/disrupt-aging.
Reflection & Thoughts
For a long time, seniors have typically been shown to be weak, less-abled and illness-plagued by marketing companies and the media to their convenience. This has programmed our minds since childhood to accept these negative archetypical versions of the older adult. In September 2019, AARP and Getty Images announced a multi-year initiative to reshape the image of ageing through a stereotype-shattering collection of 1,400 images, pushing advertisement agencies and other industry players to join the crusade to repress the misconceptions of ageing in media portrayals.