Ryman pours cold water on ageist marketing

We were thrilled to see Ryman Healthcare awarded at this year’s TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards. It took top honours in the healthcare/beauty category for its ‘Pioneers a New Way of Living’ campaign, which showcased real residents pursuing their passions – from music to road cycling.

While this may not sound particularly revolutionary, it’s a world away from traditional ageist advertising that portrays older people as ‘past it’; frail, disoriented, lonely and aimless. These negative representations of older people are not only inaccurate and incredibly offensive, but they also serve to enforce and recycle negative stereotypes about older people. Sadly, this can often lead to older people themselves buying into the ageist propaganda, negatively affecting the way they feel about themselves. It’s a vicious cycle.

The great thing about Ryman’s campaign is that it portrays older people exactly as they are: passionate, independent people who are very much still full of life. As Ryman Group Chief Executive Richard Umbers says:

“There is no such thing as retirement, and our residents are proof that living in a retirement village means you can pursue your passions to the full.”

Ryman seem to be at the peak of a shifting mindset when it comes to marketing to older people. More and more organisations are changing their advertising to better reflect what it means to age; Arvida’s recent ‘The spice of life’ campaign, for example, aimed to represent the lived experience of some of its residents, depicting them as punk rockers, race car drivers and mountain bikers for example.

The buck can’t stop with our industry though; we need to see empowering images of older people across all forms of media – from advertising to entertainment. Because, at the end of the day, older people are just people.

If you’re interested in learning more about ageism, we have some great resources on our Making Life Easier site, such as this great video by Ashton Applewhite called Let’s end ageism.

About Mason Head

Content Creator and Publication Lead at Eldernet