Ageism is the biased discrimination of an individual or a group due to their age bracket. In most societies, age discrimination is often taken lightly, but it has severe effects as other forms of discrimination like racism and sexism (OHRC, 2019). The media define the roles of society and portray the image and perception of an idea to the society. Likewise, television shows, television series, magazines, and advertisements have a coded message regarding the age demography they target. Studies on ageism suggest that there is a common belief that the youth buy and the youth sells. This has had a negative image on the elderly population and discriminated against them in most media adverts.
An advert by Lumen, a dating website designed for older people who are over 50 years launched in Ireland, faced controversy after creating an advert featuring an older man. The advertisement dubbed the UK sexy Santa featured a 58-year-old public figure Paul Orchard who posed topless with grey hair. The advert was banned in the UK, suggesting that the man was sexually exploited. The app’s co-founder was agitated by the banning of the advert, claiming that their advert was intended to be funny, anti-ageist, and not rude as the United Kingdom’s Committee of Advertising Practice understood the advert (Petter, 2018). The advert was later restructured, featuring the same model clothed in a red suit. According to the pictures featured on the app’s advertisement, they portrayed elderly people as confident and still can compete in the fashion and media industry.
In most cases, most media firms run to the youthful generation to feature in their adverts and television commercials (Singh & Chahal, 2019). This has also influenced fashion firms to go for the younger generations to advertise their merchandise and segregate the aged generation who are also potential clients of their outfits. In the advertisement by Lumen, Orchard posed as an ideal model, in red pants, suspenders, and topless revealing his well-toned upper body. This advert revealed that the aged could also make adverts at the same level as the younger population.
The banning of this advert portrays ageism as deep-rooted in society. The London advertising agency suggested that the advert photo should be revised to a less suggestive photo. In their statement, the advertising agency suggested that the advert bent the advertising policy, which gave them no choice but to ban it. On the contrary, in our society, there are full advertisements and commercials by the younger generation dressed in more suggestive outfits, but no action is taken against them. Orchard, the topless model in the advert, was surprised by the banning of his pictures, citing that younger people make adverts in more revealing outfits than he had.
In my experience and daily life, most people subject older people to a lot of discrimination. Most people believe that they are not capable of competing for chances with the younger generation. Most people have adopted the idea that old people should live a confined life that the society dictates. For example, in Paul Orchard’s case, society believed that a man of his age was not supposed to make an advertisement topless, but it was a norm for the younger generation. Also, there are descriptions made against older people dictating their dressing mode, lifestyle, and social behavior. For example, society criticizes an elderly person who dresses in flashy clothes or trendy sneakers. This is because they believe that they are exclusive to the youthful generation. Another example is that the society perceives that older people should not use their leisure time in attending certain places. The society believes places like movie cinemas, parties or mingling activities are for the younger generation and older people are not expected to attend.
OHRC. (2019). Ageism and age discrimination (fact sheet). Ontario Human Rights Commission. Web.
Petter, O. (2018). “Sexy santa” advert banned for objectifying male model. The Independent. Web.
Singh, P. P., & Chahal, H. S. (2019). Consumers attitude towards controversial television commercials and its impact on purchase intentions. Management and Labour Studies, 45(1), 118–141. Web.