Two grannies assessing the milk productivity of two goats by means of a chart: this is the story of the commercial behind this screenshot. The first granny is a data analysis savvy; the other is just a late (and most likely unconvinced) adopter. The product is of no interest here; what’s interesting is the discovery of yet another trend of biomimicmarketing. Advertisers, after exhausting every possible living thing as a symbol of originality and naturalness, picked up their next victim: old people. This is not an altogether brand new ad strategy, but recently there happens to be a twist in it.
By habit, advertising makes use of old people in order to dress up products and production processes with “traditional” and natural qualities—a classic biomimicmarketing technique; now some more devious ramifications make their appearance. For starters, here’s an inversion of the standard afore-mentioned technique: in order to convince customers for the “usability” of a product, advertisers conceive and depict the average old person as an inevitably senile and somewhat mentally retarded individual, who can nevertheless adopt the advertised products, services, and habits easily and smoothly. In this manner advertisers demonstrate the seamlessness of the adoption. “If an old man can do it, then you most definitely can”; this is the general idea. Sad to say, therefore, that the very popular super-granny ad-persona is not a positive one at all.
Unfortunately, the ad-guys were not done yet. Here’s the real twist: they now utilize old people as the living analogue of old products, and by extension old behaviors, in an absolutely degrading manner. Biological oldness is used as a metaphor of the technological and cultural obsolesce of an old product. Thus, in the context of an ad, old people symbolize a relic of an utterly undesirable past that has to be eliminated by “progressive” homogenization. Advertisements construct a world where old people have no option: either they adopt the new product/behavior or they become isolated in a world where they have no right to propose and intervene. Old people are represented as the aboriginals of human culture, as a weird quasi-sub-species of human society. And guess what… you’ll be next.