Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Age of Confusion

If I had one wish for Christmas, or even for next year, I'd like to knock all those brands off their faux social mission bandwagons and take an axe to that plinky piano whose music always features behind such creations.

OK, maybe I'm being unseasonably miserable, and maybe the ad for Olay has a fantastic insight that will have women round the world cheering, but I find it patronising. There's the ad itself. Do people really take comments such as 'you're beautiful' and 'you've got a lovely smile' and 'I love your hair' from a random film-maker that they don't know as 'true compliments'? Oh, and incidentally, what if the film-maker had been male? Where would we have been then?

And I have never, ever heard anyone say someone has 'a lovely smile for their age.' Then the rallying call 'It's time we stop defining women by their age.' I wondered who 'we' means in this context. Who is the finger being pointed at? I can only come to the conclusion that it must be Olay pointing the finger at themselves. I wonder if they'll put their words into action?

As (Oil of) Olay, Ulay, Olaz, Ulan and maybe some other permutations and combinations, this brand has invested years in the idea of younger-looking skin.

Today, the product line-up includes products 'For fighting the 7 signs of ageing' while there are anti-wrinkle products classified into age groups 25+, 40+ and 55+. By the way, whether you're 55 or 95, you come into the 'deep wrinkles' category. Sorry.

And of course, the makers of Olay send you a wonderful magazine once you get over the age of 50, together with an incontinence pad sample. You see, they are allowed to segment and judge according to your age, but for the general public, it's a no-no.

I think Olay - or at least the people running the brand - need to work out what they stand for, and what they are offering. At the moment, the messages are mixed and contradictory. It would be a brave move, for example, to accept that many women do want to look younger, even if it's not the most PC, feminist right-on thing to want. (In the same way that many women in the Far East wish for fairer skin.)

And while much of the advertising from the last century is cringeworthy, there's a brilliant ad from the then Oil of Olay which I think captures the spirit of the brand and still works today. Better than 10,000 plinky pianos.


Barbara Fisher said...

I would be most upset if someone told me I had a lovely smile for my age! Does that mean I didn’t have a lovely smile five years ago, or I might not have one next week? Plus how the heck do they know how old I am. I might look ten years older than I really am, or (I wish) ten years younger! I want a cream for the ‘nearly seventy’ if they don’t mind very much! I know I have 'deep wrinkles, but they are nowhere near as deep as they will be when I’m 95 and besides, they are just laughter lines, not wrinkles damn it!

Sue Imgrund said...

Skin creams are a can of worms (if you'll excuse the metaphor) when it comes to advertising. I worked on some of these products in the past and the fact is that most of it is smoke and mirrors. A cheap moisturiser will work just as well, and probably give you a lovely smile because you've saved money :)