Monday, January 30, 2012
9732: Is Ageism Getting Old?
Advertising Age published a lengthy piece titled, “Aging in Adland: The Gray-Hair Phobia That’s Hindering Older Execs.” The piece spotlights the trials and tribulations of 56-year-old adman Dave Shea, essentially hinting at the ageism rampant on Madison Avenue. It’s an old story that increasingly gains media attention with the graying of Mad Men. And of course, these tales inspire comment threads featuring lots of anger and frustration.
Can’t help but think Shea is hurting his cause by posing with a copy of Ogilvy On Advertising, surrounded by classic campaign paraphernalia. He may as well have been clutching James Webb Young’s How To Become An Advertising Man while clacking away on a Corona Sterling typewriter and humming jingle concepts.
Back in 2008, MultiCultClassics presented a series titled, “Until The Boomers Die.” Ironically, the effort was short-lived, with only two entries here and here. Yet the goal was to examine the generational-rooted issues that are snowballing in an industry purporting to be on the cutting edge of culture. Like it or not, Madison Avenue isn’t just a Boy’s Club—it’s a Young Boy’s Club. Hell, add “White” to the list of adjectives too.
One stereotypical comment left at the Ad Age story reads, “…[Ageism] is code for discrimination. People who shudder at sexism or racism are often quite comfortable with ageism. Why?”
Well, mostly because the overwhelming majority of alleged ageism victims comprise the primary source of our industry’s sexism and racism—as well as the full spectrum of isms that have stifled progress for several decades. The proverbial shoe is on the other foot, turnabout is fair play, what goes around comes around, etc. Although the new casualties prefer to label it reverse discrimination.
Cultural cluelessness can lead to flawed reasoning and peculiar terminology.