Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Editor’s View: Celebrating the creative, innovative power of the over 50s

NDA is bringing back one of its most popular series, 50 over 50: Rebels, Misfits and Innovators, a series celebrating the brilliance of those in our industry aged over 50. 

I’m over 50. Which is good news for me as it means I’m in one of the most affluent and most creative, parts of the UK economy.

We’re rich, over 50s consumers have a spending power of £319 billion a year (excluding housing costs), equivalent to roughly 54% of total household consumer spending.

And we’re living our lives a little differently, in terms of eating, shopping, travelling, and going out as we did in our youth, just with more money to do so. 

Shame then, that the ad industry remains almost allergic to people over 50. In a recent IPA Excellence paper, it was pointed out that over 50s represent just 6% of the industry. Compared to 22% of the finance industry and 30% of science for instance. 

And why we continue to see stories in the industry press about how adland mostly ignores people over 50, that most people that age are unhappy about how advertisers portray them and that just 6% of Dentsu’s staff are over 50.

The ad industry is constantly bemoaning the levels of creativity within it, just another reason to look again at its demographic makeup. 

One of my favourite columns on this was from the incomparable Ad Contrarian in 2018. Discussing the industry’s lack of interest in over 50s, he pointed out that five of that year’s Pulitzer Prizes went to over 50s; that at the Academy Awards, three of the four winners for acting were over 50 and the Oscar for Best Director went to Guillermo del Toro, who was 53.

And Emmy award winners for Best Drama Series, Best Comedy Series. Best Limited Series, The Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress were all over 50.

You want award-winning creativity? Talk to the over 50s.

Yet, I still come across stories such as the campaign for a menopause treatment being planned by a creative team in their 20s, who planned to use influencers in the campaign. With hair dyed grey. 

The good news is that things are, slowly, changing. 

I was having lunch recently with one of the online publishing industry’s most successful, innovative and creative figures. Who is over 50. 

When she was first starting off in the industry she said she’d never have been able to believe she, and so many of her similarly-aged peers would be leading the industry, hugely visible, influential and relevant. 

In an industry like ours, where despite the rapid pace of change such shifts tend to move in cycles, knowledge of what has come before is hugely important in making sense of the opportunities that change presents. 

Knowledge and experience are the critical ingredients from which the best creativity and innovation can grow from. 

We’ll be once again shining a light on these individuals, finding out what lessons they’ve learned, what’s next in their creative journeys and, crucially, what their younger admirers can learn from their success. 

And, of course, if you’re over 50 and brilliant, please get in touch, we’d love to interview you!