Ever wonder what goes on at your grandparents’ nursing home in between visits? Turns out it’s sex. Lots and lots of sex. Seniors have seen so much action recently, in fact, that they’ve seen the highest increase in STD’s among any age group. Apparently it’s turned into enough of a problem to necessitate a PSA from SaferSexForSeniors.org and agency DDB NY.
“We recognized an unfulfilled need to support this important issue in light of changing social norms,” says Matt Eastwood, Chief Creative Officer at DDB New York. “This demographic grew up prior to the time that sex-ed was transformed from being taboo to being transparent in educational settings during the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s and ’70s. Additionally, many seniors have found themselves newly single and settling in social living communities.”
Apparently there isn’t much “settling” going on in these communities, though. From 2005 to 2009, the number of cases of syphilis and chlamydia in seniors rose 62% in the state of Florida, America’s mecca for the elderly. Something had to be done.
“Disease control for seniors and discussions of STDs are difficult to discuss in the media and balked at by physicians,” says Eastwood. “Moreover, condom companies have chosen to target younger audiences so, as a result, seniors are under-marketed to. Our goal was to make the “underdiscussed” impossible not to discuss.”
After locking in on the problem, DDB approached SaferSex4Seniors.org, an independent collective of professional sexuality educators, researchers, authors, and therapists, whose mission is to provide better education and information to ensure that older adults can get it on as safely as possible. Once this group got on board to lend support, the next step was making a campaign concept worth remembering, with humor and shock value.
The elderly have gotten more attention from advertisers lately, but this PSA presents them in a different light: as surprisingly sexual beings who need to rein it in a little.
“It was important for us that our creative response felt empowering to the 55-and-over demographic,” Eastwood says. “The truth is, whether the younger generation like it or not, our grandparents are having sex. We didn’t want to shy away from portraying them as sexually active individuals. We simply wanted to encourage them to have sex, safely.”
The resulting ad campaign has the feel of an instructional exercise video gone freaky. In front of a static background of nausea-green rec center curtains, a series of jauntily dressed oldsters assume the position. Several positions, in fact: reverse cowgirl, the wheelbarrow, you name it. They’re more or less acting out the Kama Sutra.
“While there are many ways to do it,” a screen crawl informs viewers, “there’s only one way to do it safely: with a condom.” It’s a message that is helping to deliver The Greatest Generation a belated crash course in sex education. By focusing on the enjoyable part of sex too, DDB is conveying that condoms don’t need to prohibit the fun, but can be a part of it. Whether the participants’ grandchildren are ready to contemplate it or not.