“Having just been given an assignment to write a letter aimed at seniors, and rapidly approaching that status myself, I paused to think about what seniors (and near-seniors, like me) think, feel, and believe.
“Here’s what I think senior [sic] believe:
- Idiosyncratic, gruff, even crabby behavior is more accepted in the old than the young.
- The old days were better than today.
- The moral decay of society is accelerating at an almost exponential rate.
- Young people think they know everything, but in fact know almost nothing.
- Society has become course [sic] and crude.
- Technology scares them. They don’t understand it. But they wish they did.
- Their number one fear: outliving their retirement savings and being financially dependent on others.
- Their number two fear: old age, illness, and death.
“Are these on the money? Or are my assumptions off base?”
Off base? How about not within warp speed of this universe. I left a mini-version of my trademarked rant on age bias in Mr. Bly’s Comments section and was joined in the ensuing discussion by TGB regulars Winston of Nobody Asked and Tamar of In and Out of Confidence.
According to his professional home page, Mr. Bly is a 25-year veteran of writing successful marketing copy. He’s got the secrets, he says, to generating large numbers of responses to direct mail advertising that no one else knows - which secrets, by the way, he will reveal to you in a “boot camp” next February for a mere $2,497 – plus airfare and hotel in Las Vegas.
My intention is not to critique Mr. Bly’s copywriting skills which may or may not be prodigious. But I do take extreme exception to his false stereotyping of old people's attitudes as entirely negative, which is still too common in our youth-centric culture at large and in the professional marketing community.
When marketers bring these biases to their work, old people are targeted with advertising only about patent medicines, prescription drugs, diapers, dubious insurance policies and useless anti-aging products. When was the last time new cars, computers, iPods, fashionable clothing or cameras were marketed to older people, or models with gray hair and a wrinkle or two were displayed with them? It will never happen as long as there are too many marketers like Mr. Bly.
Tamar left a Comment suggesting that Mr. Bly must be kidding. One could only hope, but that would require an indication of irony, which never appears in his post or in the back-and-forth in the Comment section.
In addition, Mr. Bly avoided discussion of the question of his age bias we raised preferring instead, to create a semantic argument, defend his ageist list as being “proven by testing” (although he didn’t supply any of that proof) and attack bloggers in general.
While Mr. Bly’s post doesn’t have the reach of an advertisement in Vanity Fair or a commercial on television, for example, it is a small example of small-minded ageism and stuff lives forever somewhere on the web. So it, as all ageist propaganda, must be challenged wherever it appears.
Anyone - including Mr. Bly - interested in the latest research into marketing and the minds of older consumers presented in a thoughtful, engaging manner should check out David Wolfe's excellent blog, Ageless Marketing.