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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"older consumers are less impressionable" - discuss

Many thanks to Kim Walker for telling me about this article in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper entitled: “Disney film (Up) sparks ageism debate.”

Disney's Pixar studio is launching a film called Up and apparently it is being given the thumbs down by investors and toy manufacturers because its main character, a grumpy 78-year-old man, is not considered commercially attractive.

It would seem to be a story of an old guy who ties balloons to his house in order to become airborne. He accidentally drags an eight-year-old scout along with him and the pair then go on adventures in South America. It sounds dreadful!

"The film doesn't sound like much of a goer," said one buyer for a leading British toy retailer. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

The really interesting part of the article is that it goes on to get a quote from Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), who is quoted as saying: "Older people are rarely the centrepiece of campaigns despite the booming grey market and the obvious reality that we are an ageing population.”. Yep, no doubt about that.

Mr Pringle then goes on to say, as quoted in the paper "There have been one or two specialist ad agencies catering for the older market but they haven't been particularly successful, partly because older consumers are less impressionable."

I won’t comment about the success, or not, of specialist agencies but the bit about older consumers being “less impressionable” needs a response. I am not sure if he is using as a criticism or a compliment. It doesn’t really matter since whenever you try and categories 10s of millions of people as being like ‘this’ or ‘that’ it shows that you have lost the plot.

Commentators should distinguish between something being a bad idea, as it would seem Disney’s film might be, and not go on to derive more abstract and generalised conclusions. Dick Stroud

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