And Another Birthday Comes 'Round
Mainstream Media Discovers Elders Online

Elder Strip Poker

Chuck Nyren, at his Advertising to Baby Boomers blog, takes exception to this Centrum Silver commercial:

I couldn’t agree more that, as Chuck writes, the spot is:

“Kind of clever. A bit hokey. Actually, a Cocoon knock-off. But cute.

“Of course, as a piece of persuasion - it fails. The spot is rife with ageism, and (even worse) portrays the target market as a bunch of delusional imbeciles…”

Chuck then goes on to explain how he would improve the commercial:

“These folks look to be in their seventies and eighties,” he writes. “As an exercise, let's refashion this ad for Boomers by making it appealing and persuasive [emphasis added].

Centrum Silver should hire Chuck; his commercial (go read it) would not only be more entertaining, it would remove the implication that elders are dotty, old fools. But, here is my question for Chuck: why rework it to show boomers in the final shot? What’s wrong with octogenarians playing strip poker?

Chuck would have the last shot be of “four people in their fifties/sixties, still looking pretty good - maybe with a few potbellies, a bald head, etc.”

I understand his blog is restricted to talking about baby boomers who currently top out at age 61, but the age of the people in the final shot is not what makes the commerical a failure. By replacing them with younger poker players, Chuck has removed the commercial’s original ageism and replaced it with a different kind.

In his TGB Interview last month, Chuck said:

“At the moment, just targeting anybody over forty is good news. Eventually, there will be more focused targeting. (Or at least I hope so.)”

This commercial targets every older person from boomers on up and in doing so, shows some very old people having some silly fun. That, it seems to me, ought to be Chuck’s kind of good news. There are few enough octogenarians on television.

[EDITORIAL NOTE] The new Elder Storytelling Place blog is taking off nicely. There have been half a dozen story submissions since Friday which will be posted one at a time over the coming days. Please take a look at today’s story from Cowtown Pattie, and we are eager to receive your submissions.


Good points all, Ronni. Thanks for blogging my post.

I sent Brent Green the spot before I blogged about it. Along with other comments (all negative), he wrote, “…the poker squad could have been more multi-generational …” So he agrees with you.

Of course Centrum should hire me. And when they do, and I reshoot the commercial - I'll be casting you as one of the card players .... :)


I thought the ad was cute but didn't interpret it as the old being delusional. To me it was on several levels. One of which is that sometimes we see others as their spirit suggests, which for those people was having a good time and still being sexual, it wasn't about being nuts, but about seeing beyond the superficial and having fun with it. Such places have had this happen as well as in retirement communities like Sun City in Arizona. The assumption that all elders become asexual is not so and sex is fed by the imagination anyway.

On another level, it's how what those old ones are, the young ones will be. When I see someone old in a store, often for a moment, I think about what they must have been when young. Inside that old one is still the young one.

It wouldn't encourage me to buy the vitamin though because all of that is about imagination.

Chuck: Since I haven't appeared even in a swimsuit when anyone else was around in a decade, fat chance you'll book me for that commercial...

Rain: Excellent point about the original final shot showing octogenarians being sexual. There aren't many people in their eighties on TV and fewer than that are shown as sexual beings.

Seems like they should have been advertising some form of alcohol with that hokey storyline, rather than vitamins!

The thing about ageism and ageist remarks is that many people don't even realize that it is offensive.
I accused TechCrunch, GearCrunch and the Consumerist (these are huge sites) of some ageist remarks on my blog recently and my traffic tripled. A few people left comments on the site but I got a lot of emails saying that ageism isn't the same as racism or religious persecution. Of course some were even ageist and abusive. I find it interesting they weren't willing to leave those remarks in the comments on the site. I disagree. I think recognition of ageism today is where racism was 40 years ago. People are beginning to realize it may be wrong.

I kind of liked the commercial. I thought the old folks looked like they were having fun and that was great.

Of course that reaction wouldn't drive me to buy Centrum Silver, as I a) wouldn't remember the name as it would be overpowered by the memorable images and b) it wouldn't occur to me that a pill had any connection to the happiness of the people pictured. They seemed like nice folks.

As we all know, there aren't any pills out there, vitamins or otherwise, that are going to make us feel younger, so I find the copy line at the end, "Feel young again..." pretty hokey -- and their product is one I've used.

I just figured that young group pictured at the beginning were still at it years later. BUT, there sure weren't very many seconds that allowed us to see the older people, and then only at a distance. I realize that quick take was probably intended as an exclamation mark, but it missed the point for me. Too bad we couldn't have had a closer shot of the older group. Frankly, I doubt that the opening shot would have caught my attention in the first place, a glance would have suggested to me they were just advertising some product that would have no relevance for me. Nice to see the possible association of older people as sexual beings, but hope advertisers don't get carried away with sexualizing so much for older people as they do just about every other age group.

As a side note, this reminded me of a high school slumber party I held once in which we were feasting on fresh strawberries, became bored, and ended up playing strip poker. Yeah, it was all girls. Darn!

I thought it was very clever, I loved it. I usually don't approve of commercials advertising sex, this is the exception.

It their KEEPER that I found most objectionable! They placed the people in a nuthouse with someone else in charge of the lights!
Give me a break!

Interesting observations from everyone. I agree in the end the ad makes the older folks look silly and does not help the product's image with them.

Think about this small point all of you out there older than, say, 35 or 40: That moment JUST before you look in the mirror for any reason. Does your "mind's eye" make you just a bit younger? Have a few less wrinkles and sags? I am far from vain and certainly not obsessed with my looks.

I am one of the very few women I know who does not paint her toenails and could not care less about a shoe collection.

But, still, when I look in the mirror closely...I always think, "Dang, I thought I was younger than *that*!"

wow! such interesting comments. i wrote the spot so here it is in a nutshell:

1) they are not in a nuthouse; they're in an assisted living center.

2) the idea was this: because of vitamins that can help make you feel healthier, you'll also feel younger, as well.

3) there is no negativity toward octogenarians here. it's the opposite: most DO feel young inside. they do NOT want to stop doing things like playing strip poker. most we "focus-grouped" simply love the spot.

4) centrum had nothing to do with it. it's a spec (fake) commercial.

How interesting. After watching the spot (it was sent to me via email) I asked around and nobody had seen it aired. That didn’t mean it hadn’t been, but …

When I was writing the blog post, originally I had a sentence ripping into the marketing folks at Centrum for okaying such a spot – but some voice in the back of my head told me to dump that sentence – and just blame the ad agency. A possible scenario (although I had no idea if it were true) made me think that the spot may have been canned by someone intelligent at Centrum (Wyeth Pharmaceuticals) and a copy had escaped into the ether, eventually ending up on YouTube.

Now it all makes sense.

two more points i might add. the folks at centrum DID see the spot and LOVED it! true story. their feeling was that it didn't fit their "tone and personality", not that it was offensive or mis-targeted.

and speaking of targeting - this spot never intended to target baby boomers. although centrum silver is for as young as 50, the communication targets seniors, as it should be clear by the casting. after tens of thousands of people viewing the spot, there have been no seniors who haven't really dug it. literally laughed out loud. chuck, you're not the audience - yet. and i'm not far behind!

i find it fascinating how people can't help but put their own angst and perspectives on life into what they see out there in the world.

I think it was hilariously close to how we all want to believe we'll be 'mis-behavin' at 80!

Deal me in!

Never mind the target audience, or the intention of the commercial aired or not?? WHO is the brunette with the killer smile, and the drop dead gorgeous body????
And who would ever need vitamins or tiny blue pills with a gal like that??!!
I am a smitten kitten!! Grrrrrrr!!!!

who is the that playing in the soundtrack?

One thing to remember about any advertisement for vitamins; if you have a reasonably healthy diet, you are already getting all of the vitamins you need. Your body excretes the rest.

Taking a lot of vitamin pills ensures that you have very expensive urine.

Cute guy love em. So I love this game and its amazing 'cause like a girl i used to Not enjoy poker at all... funny. but i learned a long term winning strategy at imakemoney and their poker videos are worth more than gold for new players i think. one insider tip: good idea is to learn german so you understand all things

How did I go all these years without knowing about this commercial? I tried to catch up by posting about it at my blog along with a rave about your blog.

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