brand storytelling — August 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Pfizer’s “Get Old” Breaks Cultural Taboo


Pfizer_Get_Old_Advertising_Campaign_ smarterstorytelling.comPfizer’s “Get Old” campaign is brilliant and revolutionary.

It is the first time I have seen a marketer deal honestly and forthrightly with
the reality of aging.

To say that ours is a culture that celebrates youth is an understatement. Political scientist Benjamin Barber goes further, characterizing it as an ethos of infantilism.
In “Consumed,” he writes: “The infantilism ethos generates a set of habits, preferences
and attitudes that encourage and legitimate childishness.”

This is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than in the new “Live Young” campaign for Evian.

evian3 smarterstorytelling.comAs a middle-aged man, I find this campaign clueless and depressing. No, I do not want to imagine myself as an infant.
I am not interested in getting in touch with my inner child. I’ve had enough of him, and am glad to move on.

Sure, aging has its drawbacks, but there are also real benefits. I’m more open-minded, compassionate, thoughtful and happier than I ever was as a young man. Maybe even a little wiser.

The virtues of getting old deserve respect, if not celebration.

Pfizer’s “Get Old” does just that. But in a way that is neither sentimental nor pollyannish. For one, it breaks the taboo of uttering the word “old” in advertising. Moreover, the campaign addresses head-on the concerns and emotions we have about aging, asking us if we feel angry, prepared, uneasy, or even optimistic.

It’s this last point that I find so intriguing. If you’ve been reading my columns over the last couple of weeks, you know that I’ve been dealing with the issues of optimism and pessimism with respect to Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign.

Despite Pepsi’s insistence that “Live for Now” is “far from pessimistic,” both the tagline and the campaign leave me feeling a little down.

“Get Old,” on the other hand deals with issues of grave concern, without sugar-coating. Yet I feel strangely upbeat about this message.


Perhaps witnessing a large corporation deal truthfully with the facts of life is enough to give me hope.

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