Over-60s massively underrepresented in ads - report

David Murphy

Only 4 per cent of people cast in ads globally in 2022 were over the age of 60, according to new research from creative ad tech firm, CreativeX. CreativeX's technology was used to analyse over 126,000 ads featuring over 25,000 people from leading CPG, Food and Beverage, Healthcare, and Alcohol brands, supported by over $124m in ad spend during 2022. This analysis was carried out  through the extraction of creative data – including labelling ads for the sex, age range, skin tone, and situation for each person cast in an analysed ad. 

CreativeX said the findings show that brands are overlooking older consumers and missing out on a lucrative audience. The over-60s, for example, account for 23 per cent of the UK population. According to CreativeX, they also represent roughly 25 per cent of global spending power, yet only 3 per cent of digital media budgets are allocated to ads featuring this audience. 

Furthermore, when older adults were shown on screen, almost two thirds (65 per cent) of them were featured in family and domestic settings. Despite the average retirement age standing at 65 and going up, less than 1 per cent of older adults were cast in ads that placed them in professional or leadership environments.  

Previous research by CreativeX found that while female representation in ads is lacking, it only gets worse in the over 60s cohort. Women aged 60+ accounted for less than 2 per cent of all people in ads. While 10 per cent of women aged 26-59 were shown in leadership or professional situations in ads, this dropped to under 1 per cent for women aged over 60. 

“Today’s ads continue to paint a picture of our society that’s not representative, or inclusive, of what we see in the real world,” said CreativeX Founder and CEO, Anastasia Leng. “While these findings may not be a shock to many, our ability to measure at this level of granularity and track our casting and storytelling decisions in near real-time, is a technical feat: we finally have the tools in place to analyse something previously opaque at unprecedented scale. This is the first step towards ushering in greater creative inclusivity and making ads that represent us in our many multi-dimensional ways.”