The Denial of Aging in American Advertising: Empowering or Disempowering?

By Erin Lamb and Jim Gentry.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article examines marketing literature on portrayals of older adults in American television and magazine advertisements and—taking into account audience-specific portrayals—identifies two distinct forms of aging denial: the explicit aging denial present in anti-aging advertisements primarily targeted to a middle-aged and younger market, and the more subtle aging denial present in the images of positive “agelessness” promoted to an older audience. A close reading of Botox advertising campaigns reveals the disempowerment of this first form of aging denial. However, the authors—coming from different disciplines, generations and genders—present contrasting perspectives on the value of the aging denial present in positive “ageless” portrayals and suggest directions for needed future research.

Keywords: Marketing, Aging Denial, Baby Boom Generation, Anti-aging

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.35-47. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 488.629KB).

Dr. Erin Lamb

Assistant Professor, Biomedical Humanities, Hiram College, Hiram, OH, USA

Erin Gentry Lamb is an assistant professor of biomedical humanities and Director of the Center for Literature and Medicine at Hiram College in Ohio. She holds a PhD in American literature from Duke University. Her research and teaching interests center on exploring cultural representations of medicine, science and technology; in particular, her work focuses on aging, genetics, women’s health, bioethics, and new media. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Executive Council for the North American Network of Aging Studies and on the editorial committee of Age, Culture, Humanities.

Dr. Jim Gentry

Maurice J. and Alice Hollman Professor of Marketing, Marketing, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA

Jim Gentry is the Maurice J. and Alice Hollman Professor of International Business and Marketing at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. He has authored (or more frequently, co-authored) over 80 articles, 12 chapters in edited books, and over 200 conference papers. His current research interests are changes in consumption due to life event transitions, family decision making, gender roles, differences in decision processes across cultures, and the evolution of marketing processes in transition economies.