With an ever-growing aging population, the ability to communicate with older people in authentic and nuanced ways is more important than ever. Brands need to focus clearly on how they speak to the older generation of women. We’ve seen this in action recently –
Celine and Joan Didion
Fashion house Celine using the literary icon Joan Didion as their face seems an attempt to position the brand as one with integrity and substance. But, it doesn’t appear to use her clout in quite the right way – it seems problematic to reduce this intellectual heavyweight to an accessories seller. Covering the lines that tell her stories with oversized shades seems to squash the icon into a fashion box – handbag and all.
Joni Mitchell and YSL
Saint Laurent Paris has become known for using a huge variety of weird and wonderful musicians in advertising – this campaign also includes Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson. This not the first time Saint Laurent has used an older musical icon in their campaigns, but it feels interesting at a time where ‘70s revival fashion is all the rage. The advert captures Joni in a ‘70s inspired jacket, hat and shirt – items she’d surely wear in her natural habitat, and she is holding her own guitar. It feels natural and authentic.
Iris Apfel and Wise Wear
The 92 year old socialite and model Iris Apfel has recently collaborated with wearable technology designer Wise Wear, creating a range of jewellery that has built in safety features, and a health and tracking system aimed at older, style conscious women. Using one of the world’s most fashionable women to champion this innovative design-led technology not only markets the product to her peers, but also acknowledges that the older generation are clued up to technology and design – and often are the demographic with the cash to splash.
Why is this interesting –
It is refreshing to see older women as the faces of major brands. Using the image of someone with a wealth of prowess and substance is a smart way to make a brand look considered, intelligent and cool, but it can miss the mark if the imagery feels inauthentic. Showing her looking like herself, doing the thing she is best known for can give the glow of genuine honesty. It feels even more compelling to see brands using older women to advertise to their peers, rather than only to twenty-somethings. It feels like a significant positive step forward on brand’s quest to embrace an older generation of women.
We discussed this in our previous blogs The Age Old Issue, Style over Substance and Winning Silver:
The Revenant offers up the epitome of macho endurance – through brute force and unwavering determination, DiCaprio survives extreme temperatures, near exhaustion and even a bear attack.
This form of masculinity, one of almost archaic manliness, was dominant a few years ago, but now we are seeing manliness expressed in many different forms. This is something that is evident within the film category alone. The Danish Girl, released just weeks apart from The Revenant tells the story of a man who embarks on a very different journey. In his quest to become a woman, Einar Wegener displays unwavering bravery and determination: qualities often deemed masculine.
Quite simply, the boundaries around what we perceive to be ‘masculine’ are changing, and brands are taking note. Lynx’s new superbowl advert highlights that a man’s most attractive is playing to his own strengths, rather than attempting to fit into a single form of masculinity. Louis Vuitton have also raised questions about what it means to be masculine, by putting Jaden Smith at the forefront of their most recent ad campaign for women’s clothing.
The release and box office success of The Revenant proves that brute manliness is still a prevalent way for masculinity to be expressed. But when the film is put into the context of wider culture, it’s clear that this is just one of many guises that masculinity can take. In this ever-shifting world brands have the freedom to connect with the ‘masculine’ in many different ways.
As the population is become increasingly old, the ability to speak to older people in authentic and nuanced ways is more important than ever. Despite the huge opportunity presented by the older generation in terms of their disposable income, brands often miss the mark when speaking to them. We are all too familiar with adverts aimed at older people which feel patronising or out of touch. However, Air Wick’s advert connects with a life stage which is becoming more and more central to the aging community – downsizing and moving from the beloved family home. By creating personalised scents to remind them of home, Air Wick help to make this transition easier, and showing real life people talking openly about the big changes in their life gives the advert a sense of authentic emotion. It feels as though Air Wick have really stepped in to connect with the older generation in a way that doesn’t feel too saccharine sweet or disingenuous.
We think that other brands need to follow Air Wick’s example in embracing this booming generation’s needs and address them in an authentic and sensitive way. The future potential for brands to utilise this demographic is huge – it is time for them to be spoken to.
As the championing of women and feminism becomes increasingly prominent, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Bath Film Festival created an F rating for films that are written by or directed by a woman, or that feature “significant women on screen in their own right”.
It is interesting that an industry which has had a history of gender inequality is starting to introduce tools to highlight women’s achievements. Indeed, in Sweden they have already started rating their films in a similar way using the A rating for films that pass the Bechdel-Wallace test (a test which asks if women in a film talk about anything other than men). Whilst this is clearly a very blunt instrument to initiate change, it feels like it has the potential to have a positive effect. This rating could definitely encourage people to be more aware of, and hence watch, more female-focused films and to celebrate women filmmakers in a way that may not have happened before.
We are interested to see if this rating is rolled out more fully, and what effect this has on the film industry and the world at large in terms of encouraging people to engage more fully with women in creative industries.
We were fascinated to find out that Robert Rodriguez and John Malkovich have made a film called 100 Year, in partnership with cognac brand Louis XIII, which will not be released until 2115. The film reflects the century long maturation period the cognac undergoes – a process which goes completely against our current obsession with having instant access at the touch of a button.
Indeed, smartphones have made everything accessible all the time, and we hardly have to wait for anything anymore. We can even receive online purchases in the blink of an eye with services like Amazon’s one hour delivery. It feels interesting, then, that this video takes the very antithesis of this – an extremely long waiting time – and makes it something desirable. This film will not be accessible to anyone alive today, but this only increases its aspirational sense of maturation and development.
We think the idea of maturation and making people wait for something worthwhile is a valuable one for brands to tap into. When on demand is everywhere, a sense of working for something gives a unique feeling of premiumness and anticipation.
More recently, we have seen the scientific world of outer space arise once again as a vital narrative landscape. Films such as Gravity, Interstellar and The Martian have fed our fascination with the universe, removing it from abstract fantasy, and instead positing it as a thrilling terrain to be explored. This year we’ve seen the far reaches of the galaxy taken as inspiration for an enormous range of creations – from fashion to food, from beauty to literature, from design to public spaces. The astronomical and galactic have become our new muses.
It is perhaps inevitable, then, that outer space has become a magical landscape to set Christmas within. The celebration, which already has a star at the very heart of its story, has now embraced the planetary.