Beauty Promotion (Finally) Comes of Age

For years I’ve scoffed at the idiocy of using 20-something models to promote anti-aging products. The whole thing smacks of oxymoron-ism, if there is such a word. But lately something has happened to the glossy magazine ads and TV commercials. The cosmetics moguls are, at last, choosing age appropriate women to hawk their products, I mean, represent their companies. “Brand Ambassador” is the preferred term and these contracts are lucrative and lust- worthy. Let those youngsters wait their turn!

The advertising industry appears to be belatedly waking up to the fact that the over 50’s are a demographic jackpot more than 100 million strong and a force to be reckoned with. The revenue of the U.S. cosmetics industry alone is on track to generate over $60 billion this year and an estimated $250 billion worldwide. That’s a LOT of lipstick!

The 50+ demographic is growing daily and by 2017, roughly half the US population will be part of this not so exclusive club while controlling 70% of the disposable income. So when it comes to advertising strategy, it’s ignorant, no suicidal, not to market to those with the money. The baby boomers and those right behind them are redefining what it means to be, not old, but older. And we want women we can relate to representing those skincare and beauty products that will allow us to continue to look beautiful at every age. We’re wise enough to know that no cosmetic or cream is going to make us look like we’re pushing 25 so why not use someone realistic as role model?

The long running Andie MacDowell

The long running Andie MacDowell

L’oreal reigns as the most savvy of companies when it comes to featuring grown women. Andie MacDowell has been representing the brand in some format for over 25 years! That’s a lifetime for a brand representative as they are generally swapped out with the speed of a revolving door. Now 56, we have seen her age, and beautifully, in their ads. Clearly, they have found that SHE is “worth it.” Last year L’oreal also adopted a campaign for nude lipstick, and to illustrate the variations in what nude can be, assembled a gorgeous assortment of  multi cultural actresses including 54 year old Julianne Moore (THIS CLOSE to an Oscar) and the apparently ageless Jane Fonda, 77, who continues to score a string of TV and movie roles.

Dame Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren

The newest star to hit the cosmetic contract mother lode is Helen Mirren who turns 70 this year. L’oreal hired her after their extensive research showed her to be appealing and admired by most consumers. As a role model, she exemplifies aging with grace, intelligence, class and sass.

Nars is next in line, jumping on board the trend by featuring Charlotte Rampling, still hauntingly lovely at 68 with the mercurial Tilda Swinton , 53, following in her wake later this year. Tilda is widely admired beyond her acting for being fearless in her fashion choices and has also been featured in ads for Pomelatto jewelry where she is stunningly styled.

Tilda, the architectural wonder

Tilda, the architectural wonder

A few years ago Revlon stuck a toe in the water by featuring now 68 year old Susan Sarandon and Julianne Moore but now sticks to a stable of much younger women. Shame on you Revlon! If you want to appeal to the anti-aging obsessed group, Emma Stone is not going to do it for you.

In the fashion realm, Marc Jacobs has put his money behind 65 year old Jessica Lange, who has  made a splash in his arty magazine ad as well as on TV in American Horror Story to award winning affect. It is inspiring to see women over 50 still in demand on the small tube and the big screen (Meryl Streep, 65, anyone?)and killing it on the red carpet. Meryl is still beautiful as well as insanely talented but needs a stylist, and badly!

As unlikely as it seems, Iris Apfel and Joan Didion have been featured  in ads by MAC and Celine, respectively. What is the message here? I think it is that talent, intellect and style are ageless. Even such grey eminences as the late Maya Angelou, Willie Nelson and Dos Equis’ most interesting man in the world have been called into service to appeal to older buyers of beer, shoes and haberdashery. Rather than being written off after 50, the Mick Jaggers, Billy Joels and Tony Bennets  of the world are still in demand and relevant.

The author, Joan Didion

The author, Joan Didion

With 50 increasingly viewed as the midpoint of life, we are just hitting our stride. We now have, for the most part, the time and the money to stay in the game of life, traveling, dining, seeking entertainment and adventure so long as we are physically able.

Oh yeah, and putting on our mascara first.


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