Work/Life: "If this is a Senior moment, put me down now."

Spotted downunder during "Seniors Week".

This billboard


What's your reaction? Compare it to that of three of my customers, all in their 60's and 70's:

1. "Shoot me please."

2. "That is so uninspiring."

3. "If that's a Senior Moment, just put me down now."

None of us have anything against the heroine in the photo, nor oversized polo shots, polyester pants or large vinyl totes. (Well, don't get me started). We all agree on one thing – we're frustrated by another example of lazy advertising, uninspired stereotyping, and a continued marginalization of seniors by a society that "worships a youth we all lose." 

I'm not advocating ramant political correctness here, which is just a poor excuse for counter stereotyping. I just don't understand what a poster campaign like this is trying to achieve, other than bury people while they're still blinking.

As with all lazy advertising hard at work, the poster demonstrates:

Underthinking – It's Seniors week … quick, let's raid Best & Less for threads and a schlumpfy vinyl bag because that's what seniors look like.

Patronizing – Seniors can't afford to look stylish or impressive on their pensions. And if we depart too much from our beloved stereotype the poor old fogies won't get it. We better not be funny either, because they might not get it. The last movie they saw was "Gone With the Wind" and "Grumpy Old Men".

Lazy – let's use trite and hollow phrases like "What keeps me fabulous" even though most seniors facing normal issues of aging would probably describe their feelings otherwise, if only you'd stop to listen to them.

Fearful – we better not put someone who looks genuinely "fabulous" because it might miss our target.

It gets worse. I switched on the teev and surfed across an elderly couple featured on "Grey Nomad Adventures," showing them being taught to DJ at a night club.

The youthful hosts made all the usual patronizing jokes about the couple's music selection being Englebert Humperdink, about the danger (not) of groupies whisking away the hubby, about whether they were able to "get the beat" or did they keep lapsing into Viennese Waltz breakbeat, and so forth. The nice enough couple were obliged to play right along for the benefit of the cliché. Frankly, the hipper-than-thou hosts made themselves look the bigger, duller, drearier cliché.

I've always wondered … where are the nightclubs for older people? Does Tina Turner or Mick Jagger sit about with feet in a heated bootie watching Days of Our Lives just because they've trawled the planet slightly longer than their fans?

My 70-year old mother loves my obscure acid trance and techno collection, along with jazz, blues, old movies, French movies, Cirque du Soleil, poledancing, the $7.50 seniors buffet at the local Vet's club, Isamu Noguchi sofas and wickedly wry humor. She remembers dancing for 8 hours straight with a half hour break in the chill out room at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras not so long ago. She once sent me a note once, saying "if it's too loud, you're too old."

As she heads towards 80, her tastes just get wider and more diverse. Why shouldn't they? We continue to grow because that’s what cells do, even if they start making mistakes. If seniors become forgetful, they're just forgetting stuff that just doesn't matter anymore - like being petty. They're and making room for new experiences. If only we'd all hold off toe-tagging them before they're good and ready.

So before you overthink or underthink your next interaction with a senior, be it in person, in an ad campaign or marketing your next reverse mortgage package (which, incidentally you should be marketing to single, childless adventurettes like me), put yourself in those white lace up sneakers and imagine how you'd like the world to treat you when you're 64, 74, 84.

There's no off-ramp to avoid our senior years – and those years will be be shaped by how you are treating Generation W (anyone born before 1965) right now. 


The Galfromdownunder admits to doing a pole-dancing course with her 70-something mother. It was her mother's idea. Gazooks!

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2 Comments

  • David Holowka

    While stereotyping by other broad categories like race and gender has been discredited, doing so by age hasn't. The same lazy, unfair, diminishing process is at work; it's the generalizing that's wrong, regardless of the category its applied to. Too bad lazy advertising perpetuates the norm that some targets are fair game.

  • Andrejs Ozolins

    I really appreciate your diatribe. Especially valuable from someone who clearly isn't pleading for herself. (yet)

    My parallel rant would be on the general theme of pre-determining wants and needs and solutions. Why is there one size of beer offered at most bars? Why does it have to be dispensed in 16-oz doses? Does it matter how much beer people want? When I'm bicycling, I want huge dinners, and the usually predetermined quantities are a bit skimpy. When I drove Ithaca-Oregon-Ithaca a month or so ago, I wanted minuscule meals because sitting behind the wheel required no more food than if I'd been sleeping. Yet the doses of nourishment available almost everywhere were unalterably huge. The only glimmer of choice, alas, comes with the avalanche of stereotyping of the old: restaurants with "senior portions." The first I ever saw that was at the Denny's in Benson on the last day of our AZ week. It seems to be a spreading thing among the big chains. So, now if I don't want an absurdly huge meal to waste, I can classify myself in that category of children and old people. It doesn't bode well.

    Good on you for taking it on.

    Andrejs