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What's a typical Boomer woman in advertising? A woman with great skin starring in an anti ageing advert? What about a highly skilled, risk taking racing driver? We discover the insights behind why Airline Star Alliance’s ad is challenging stereotypical representations of older women to promote its new Connection Service.

Created with creative agency Atomic London, the advert promotes Star Alliances Connection Service, which helps passengers navigate between flights smoothly and quickly. The spot opens with a passenger rushing to make his connecting flight in time, who is greeted by a female (Boomer) member of staff with a transport buggy, ready to take him to the departure gate. He climbs on and straps himself in with a heavy duty belt, before they race off at high speeds across the airport. The woman expertly manoeuvres the buggy, dodging obstacles rather than stopping, and screaming to a halt right outside the gate, before reminding him not to forget his bag.

The result is an advert that feels like a high speed car chase from a Hollywood movie, but instead of the typical young man in the driving seat, it’s an Boomer women. “We relish the bravery of clients like Star Alliance, in making an ambitious film like this with us,” says Guy Bradbury, executive creative director at Atomic London. “We suspect that a handbrake skidding, J-turning, pimped out, airport buggy is going to be pretty hard to ignore and rather difficult to forget, which on average means it’s twice as effective.”

Older women are tired of being stereotyped in adverts
staralliancenetwork | YouTube (2018) ©

Star Alliance’s ad offers a refreshing representation of Boomer women in brand communications. Boomer women are often stereotyped in the media – that's if they're shown at all. In fact, 77% of British women agree that the way women are portrayed in advertising is stereotypical. And in the US, 80% of women over 40 feel brands systematically underestimate their intelligence; while 84% say they overestimate their preoccupation with their physical appearance. It means that brand communications aren’t resonating with these women – 72% say they don’t pay attention to advertising.

In fact, 91% of British Boomer women wish advertisers would treat them like people, instead of stereotypes. With 71% of women over 50 saying that they are still a ‘kid at heart’, creating more playful, exciting representations could be a great way for advertising to reconnect with this underserved group. Just as Star Alliance’s ad reflects how women in ads need not ascribe to damaging stereotypes by putting a Boomer woman at the wheel of a speedy airport buggy, there is room for brands across all industries to provide more varied representations of older women.

Rebecca Smith is a behavioral analyst at Canvas8, which specializes in behavioral insights and consumer research. She has worked with a number of global brands to help them better understand the mindsets of their audiences, from what people want from fake tan to how they feel about technology. Outside of work, you’ll find her binge-watching anime or with her nose stuck in a fantasy novel.


06 Aug 18
3 min read

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