Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ageist bastards! American businesses (especially Madison Avenue) all but beat, stomp and throw their old out into the snow.

If you’re 49 years old today, you’ll have to wait 18 years before you can collect your full Social Security retirement benefit.

But if you’re 49 years old today and in the advertising agency business, your career is just about over, unless you’re either president of the company or own the agency outright. In fact, unless you’re very lucky, you may already be out in the Madison Avenue cold forever even if you're barely older than 40.

That may be why ads aimed at the 50-plus crowd seem so ridiculous and obnoxious to the very people they're aimed at. Kids young enough to be our grandchildren, kids who haven't got a clue, are trying to sell us a bill of goods. Piet Verbeck, an advertising colleague who like me has figured out how to live past age 50 on the crumbs that fall off big advertising agency tables, is quick to point out:

The advertising business seems to be way out of touch with one of the fastest growing and certainly the richest market of all: 65-plus. The reason could be that there is nearly no one in the agency business even remotely close to that age.
He said that in AdWeek magazine, where you can bet every last reader, just about, is nodding in agreement. Business is ageist in general. Advertising agency staffing policies are outrageously, disgustingly, repulsively ageist.

Baloney from Maloney

More than a decade ago, I started writing to Carolyn Maloney, my unresponsive Congresswoman, pointing out that if you need to keep increasing the Social Security retirement age, you have to keep raising the government protection for people below that age as well.

I made a proposal to her which I make again today to all of congress:

The United States needs a law that would would establish de facto age discrimination at any company whose employees in each department between the age of 50 and 65-plus don't bear some reasonable resemblance to the proportion of people that age in the general population.

I got back blithering crap from Maloney — a letter that said of course she opposed all forms of age discrimination as well as other forms of gender and racial discrimination, and always had. Yadda yadda yadda, with not a word about my proposal.

So I fired off a second later, an angry one this time, demanding a response, even a simple no, to my proposal. And I did get a response, of sorts. Some young male assistant (he sounded in his 20s) asked me what it was I wanted again. I explained it again. He seemed to be very much interested and sounded as if he was taking copious notes.

Never heard from him again. Nor from Carolyn Maloney.

Hey, need a cause? Remember,
you'll be in your 60s some day, too.

So now I’m putting it out there for you progressive activists to run with. It you’re going to raise the Social Security age, you’d better damn well protect workers from ages 50 to 68. And punish those employers who fire them. Or who don't replace them with workers of similar age.

Anybody in the Senate or House want to champion this one? I’m waiting for a show of hands.

Still waiting….

2 comments:

Bob Hoffman said...

One of the reasons agencies treat older workers like shit is that they have bought into, and in many cases advocated, the nonsense perpetrated by their clients that all products have to be pitched to young people.

I wrote a post about it a while back if you're interested http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com/2007/08/aiming-low.html

Joe Noory said...

Rooten as all that is, the situation is unintentionally funny.