Older people are an increasingly important consumer group and hence advertising target, yet relatively little research in the UK and in Europe (as opposed to the USA) has examined how older adults are portrayed in advertising. In this study, a sample of 221 magazine advertisements depicting older adults were coded for features such as the advertised products, setting, role prominence, rhetorical scheme, tone and type of portrayal. In a departure from previous studies, we devised a set of six descriptive ‘types’ which encapsulate the way older people are portrayed in these advertisements. Also, and as the main focus of this paper, we compared a magazine designed for people over 50 (Saga Magazine) to ten general readership magazines in order to investigate any differences in the portrayal of older adults in (older)age-targeted vs. general readership advertising. Previous research on old age stereotyping, social identity theory and inter-group theory form the basis of our analysis.
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