An article, from the Tucson Citizen, gives but one example of just how much target people who are older, in this case by the AARP. AARP Advertising to Seniors, posted about a year ago in October 2009 by the newspaper’s MedicareBlogger, tells the story of an 80-year-old woman who happened to purchase and pay monthly for two types of Medicare plans, both sold by one of AARP’s insurance programs. Unfortunately, only one could cover any services for her. The other plan was useless.
Four or five times a week, when I exercise in the late afternoon or early morning, the televisions broadcast advertisements almost nonstop — medications for every potential malady of old age, insurance, funny brands of phones, political ads that attempt to scare about social security or medicare, and more — all aimed at elders. I’ve noticed that, as the seniors in my life grow older, they are increasingly affected.
The advertisements use two basic strategies — tugging on heartstrings or identifying and increasing anxieties. Sometimes they use both at the same time. It really doesn’t matter what they are selling — people get caught up in these ads that use these strategies, and advertisers know it.
Makes me think that senior centers, retirement communities, assisted living communities, and local libraries need to focus on media literacy programming for seniors. As a group, seniors need to know more about how advertising aims to manipulate them, and they learn fast.
For some refreshing ideas about advertising and seniors, check out the Ten Commandments for Selling Things to Seniors.