A series of ageist ads called “Don’t Vote” got some attention this week. The videos feature caricatures of angry older people telling young voters to keep away from the polls. The purpose is to scare young people into voting by pitting them against older voters on a number of key political issues. The campaign was produced by Nail Communications for Acronym, a group created in 2017 to support progressive causes and candidates. Acronym describes itself as a “no-BS digital organization” and is part of a multi-million dollar effort to elect Democrats.
AdWeek called the ads “comically savage” in a profile that ran on its website late in September. The series of spots seemingly have been well-received in the media community, with social media influencers calling “a great political ad” and Source Creative naming it their “Select of the Day.”
But our colleagues had some different descriptors for the spot, which they shared in social media posts this week. The consensus says this ad is ageism at its worse. (And in the midst of all this, AARP launched an effort to tackle ageism in advertising.)
Update: In response to outrage in the field, The American Society on Aging issued a formal response. Current ASA Board of Directors Chair Karyne Jones wrote in a letter to the ads’ creators “This kind of conspiracy‐mongering recalls some of the most unpleasant episodes in history with its elements of scapegoating and straw‐person posturing and is not a worthy complement to a progressive agenda.”
Check out the ad and let us know what do you think.
Here were just a few of the reactions from our field on social media:
— Ashton Applewhite (@thischairrocks) September 28, 2018
This disgusting advertisement is not comic, it simply reinforces ageist stereotypes and the divisive idea of them (older people) versus us (younger). Yes, please get more younger people to vote, but don’t tear at the cohesion of society to achieve it. https://t.co/V3N6h2qqYd — John Beard (@DrJohnBeard) October 4, 2018
I find this ageist ad reprehensible and think its creators should be ashamed of themselves. https://t.co/Be4zazytCE
— Richard Eisenberg (@richeis315) October 1, 2018
Everyone needs to vote in this election, and we don’t need a clearly #ageist ad to misrepresent the common causes between generations @Adweek @Acronym_Media https://t.co/g16httq9kM — Deb Whitman (@policydeb) October 1, 2018
These ads are ridiculously ageist and hateful. There is no need to scare millennials into voting by making older adults look like dark and horrible people. This is not productive! #ageist #stopageism #endageism #disruptageism https://t.co/vtqhuZDdsH
— Meg LaPorte (@AgingMeg) September 28, 2018
since when was outright prejudice and identity-based stereotypes “brilliant”? Future generations will look back with puzzlement on an era where racial / religious / gender / sexual stereotyping became unacceptable, but ageism & age discrimination still somehow felt perfectly ok. https://t.co/4qB5GIPzi5 — Toby Porter (@tobyhporter) October 5, 2018