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AARP and Getty Images launch The Disrupt Aging® Collection

September 24, 2019 • Company News

Image collection seeks to combat ageist stereotypes and change the way we depict aging in media and advertising

NEW YORK—September 24, 2019—In conjunction with AARP, Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications, has announced a joint image venture known as The Disrupt Aging® Collection aimed at re-picturing aging. Part of a broader commitment by both organizations toward changing how older people are depicted with respect to the advertising and marketing industries, the 1,400-piece Collection offers a more authentic look at how people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond live.

“This stereotype-shattering collection reflects the reality of what aging looks like today,” said Martha Boudreau, EVP Chief Communications & Marketing Officer, AARP. “The Collection shows the 50-plus community in the workplace, traveling, entertaining and living active, healthy lives, an important step toward helping brands more accurately reflect this vast demographic.”

“The images we see matter,” said Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights, Getty Images. “And yet every day, we’re bombarded with negative stereotypes of aging that don’t represent our reality—and they have a huge effect on how we think, act and whether we develop emotional connections with brands. What we needed was imagery showing mature adults leading full lives.”

Citing The Disrupt Aging® Collection as the most recent example of Getty Images’ efforts toward providing more authentic and diverse imagery, Swift explained that the Collection fills a void by showcasing real people in everyday settings, reflecting modern realities that they are working longer, starting families later, raising children and grandchildren and acting as caregivers for multiple generations.

Proprietary AARP research demonstrated two-thirds of American adults 50-plus believe that media images are ageist, and 80 percent of people 50-plus say that marketers assume their lifestyle based on stereotypes. Furthermore, three in four women aged 50-plus feel people their age are underrepresented in media imagery, although they are frequently decisionmakers for their households. Another 51 percent of that same group said they feel “invisible” in ads.

“At a time when imagery is the most widely spoken global language, it has never been more important to produce and promote visuals which are all at once inclusive, diverse and authentic,” Swift said. Over the last several years, Getty Images has taken steps to diversify its creative content in terms of gender, ethnicity and disability, with Swift citing age as the “fourth pillar” which she believes will increasingly be part of the broader inclusivity conversation moving forward.

Armed with AARP’s insights, Getty Images developed guidelines for its contributing photographers which emphasized the need for imagery highlighting positive ideas like fun, friendship and success.

Demand for this content is also on the upswing. Globally, Getty Images has seen a significant increase in customer searches for people of retirement age. Searches for “senior/seniors” increased 151 percent year-over-year from June 2018 to June 2019. The largest, and perhaps most notable shifts relate to the emotional health of older people, Swift said. Searches for fun with friends and family, happy and celebratory moments that involve others have been trending with increases two to tenfold year-over-year.

Diversity in advertising likely holds universal appeal as well, as AARP research found that 71 percent of Americans 18-plus are more likely to buy from brands that feature a mix of ages in their ads. Something Boudreau referred to as a “win-win” for businesses.

Swift called upon brands of all kinds to take note: “Anyone who has a role in creating, distributing and selecting imagery at any level and in any industry has the ability—and responsibility—to better represent the diverse audiences they are speaking to.”

For more details on The Disrupt Aging® Collection, visit https://www.gettyimages.com/collections/disrupt-aging.

For more information on AARP’s multi-year campaign, visit aarp.org/newimageofaging.

Image Credit: Hero Images/Getty Images

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