Get in touch with the spirit of the aged

Fiona Macleod is to be congratulated for her promotion to UK marketing director for oral care at GlaxoSmithKline (MW August 1), but she has been handed a poison chalice as far as new brand 40+ is concerned.

The problem lies not with GSK’s targeting of the mature sector. This is to be applauded at a time when most companies run youth-oriented campaigns, no matter what the brand or audience. The problem lies with launching a product that says to its target market: “You are old, buy this”.

No one, no matter how old, is going to accept an age-based proposition. Consumers in their 50s, 60s and even 70s do not consider themselves old. We saw Empathy shampoo die the death which awaits 40+, because it was branded as a product for ageing hair.

It is possible to direct campaigns successfully at the mature sector, but you cannot meet the issue of age too explicitly. You have to pick out the concerns and value propositions that are the buying triggers of the sector and deliver messages that highlight the benefits of purchase.

Although few marketers have real experience of the lucrative over-50s market, common sense should have dictated that launching a brand which labels buyers as old people with stained teeth and receding gums is not the best thought-out proposition ever to see the light of day.

Kevin Lavery

Executive creative director

Millennium

London WC2

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