Advertising and older consumers: image and ageism

Carrigan, Marylyn and Szmigin, Isabelle (2000). Advertising and older consumers: image and ageism. Business Ethics: A European Review, 9(1) pp. 42–50.



Despite a growing population of older people, traditional prejudices against age continue to flourish in society. The media in particular are often guilty of ageism, persistently focusing upon the `youth market', and advertisers are particular offenders. By ignoring older people, or using them as caricatures, the advertising industry not only violates its ethical responsibilities to this group within the community, but also overlooks the commercial opportunity presented by the new generation of older consumers. The article presents research into UK print media which shows that older people tend not to be featured in advertisements in mainstream publications, but are prominent in advertisements in publications for the over-fifties. The issues this raises in terms of the duty of advertisers to respect the rights of older people are discussed, along with the commercial imperative to provide more appropriate images of older people in UK advertising.

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