Discriminating against people due to their age is a pox upon advertising and media houses. It’s bad business, and another bad business practice is the last thing that these industries need, right now. Ageism is also a particularly perplexing issue emanating from professional workers who truly ought to know better. Given that everyone who is alive is aging, it’s just a matter of time before it’s your turn.
The problem of ageism is one that I’ve addressed for several years (in these pages and elsewhere). I figure it’s time to give the machine a chance to weigh in.
My Query: Why is ageism such a painful problem in the advertising and media industries?
ChatGPT: Ageism is a painful problem in the advertising and media industries because it perpetuates negative stereotypes about aging and fosters a culture of exclusion, particularly among older workers. Ageism can come in the form of discriminatory hiring practices, marginalizing older workers, and underfunding media content targeted toward older audiences. Ageism can also affect the way products and services are marketed and portrayed in media. Advertisers and marketers may assume that older people are not a profitable demographic, and as a result, fail to appeal to them. This can lead to a lack of representation of older people in advertising, which can further perpetuate negative stereotypes about aging. Moreover, ageism impacts individuals’ self-esteem and sense of dignity. Ageism makes older workers feel like they are less valued in the workforce, despite their experience and expertise, and it can make older people feel invisible and marginalized in society. Ageism needs to be addressed in advertising and media to foster a more inclusive and diverse industry that welcomes all ages and promotes positive images of aging.
Well, okay then! Even ChatGPT knows that changes are needed to heal what is broken.
It’s interesting to me how the machine posits that advertisers and marketers may assume that older people are not a profitable demographic, and as a result, fail to appeal to them. Yes, there is one bad assumption after the next in the ageism mix. And making assumptions without the benefit of data or good judgment is always a dangerous proposition. For instance, it’s well established that Boomers have most of the money in this nation, and the people most acutely aware of this are Millenials.
The machine does not offer us any ideas to combat ageism and all forms of discrimination. I’m a human—I’ll do it. Ageism is hard to prevent because of the toxic mix of bias and greed that fuel it. Changing minds and changing behavior requires more than persuasive words and/or ad campaigns can do. For real change, there has to be accountability and a penalty for bad behavior. Maybe the 4As could drop an agency’s membership and Cannes and One Show could refuse to award the worst violators.
What did Bill Bernbach say? “It’s not a principle until it costs you money.” Punitive actions from groups that make money from agencies are not going to happen. What about a class action lawsuit representing the thousands of people who’ve been “aged out” of the business? I’m for it, but the problem won’t be legislated away. The violators need to discover the power of experience on the bottom line. Until that occurs, they’re going to keep using cheap labor to solve expensive problems.