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Older adults make up just 4% of people featured in ads

Brands are overlooking older consumers and missing out on a lucrative audience, according to new analysis by CreativeX, a technology company powering creative decision-making for the world’s largest brands. 

The analysis, which assessed over 126,000 global ads released in 2022 and supported by $124 million in ad spend, shows just 4% of people cast in ads were over the age of 60, underrepresenting almost a quarter (23%) of the UK population

With a higher disposable income than younger generations, the 60+ demographic represents roughly 25% of global spending power, yet only 3% of digital media budgets are allocated to ads featuring this audience. 

When older adults were shown on screen, almost two thirds (65%) of them were featured in family and domestic settings. Despite the average retirement age standing at 65 and going up, less than 1% of older adults were cast in ads that placed them in professional or leadership environments.  

Previous research by CreativeX found that while female representation in ads is lacking, it only gets worse in the over 60s cohort. Women aged 60+ accounted for less than 2% of all people in ads. While 10% of women aged 26-59 were shown in leadership or professional situations in ads, this dropped to under 1% for women aged over 60. 

Anastasia Leng, Founder and CEO of CreativeX comments: “Today’s ads continue to paint a picture of our society that’s not representative, or inclusive, of what we see in the real world. While these findings may not be a shock to many, our ability to measure at this level of granularity and track our casting and storytelling decisions in near real-time, is a technical feat: we finally have the tools in place to analyse something previously opaque at unprecedented scale. This is the first step towards ushering in greater creative inclusivity and making ads that represent us in our many multi-dimensional ways.” 

CreativeX’s technology was used to analyse over 126,000 ads featuring over 25,000 people from leading CPG, Food and Beverage, Healthcare, and Alcohol brands, supported by over $124 million in ad spend during 2022. This analysis was done through the extraction of creative data – including labelling ads for the sex, age range, skin tone, and situation for each person cast in an analysed ad.