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Let's end a shocking prejudice

Nicky Bullard, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer at MRM Meteorite, is fed up with the ageism that exists in the creative industries.

You don’t get less creative as you get older. Disruptive thinking doesn’t belong just to the young, and you can’t put a price on the value of experience. Why then, are we an industry tarnished by ageism – especially when diversity is such a hot topic across the industry?

created on Wednesday 4 Jan 2017

NIcky Bullard

Nicky Bullard has had enough. After her recent President Address at eurobest, she wanted to talk about ageism. She called it a rant, but we think it's so much more than that. 

Ageism: A wake-up call, by Nicky Bullard

"We are obsessed with youth in our creative departments. What is wrong with us?  Surely age brings craft and experience. Claude Monet was 59 when he painted The Water Lily Pond.  Ken Loach has just won the Palme d’Or at Cannes aged 79. 

"The average Mac user is 54. Yet the average age of agency staff in the UK is 33.  With 45% under 30. And only 5% over 50. That’s our people.  But what about our older audiences? A FastMap survey found that 68% of British 65 to 74-year-olds ‘don’t relate’ to advertising. Is it because the over-65s aren’t getting our ‘clever shit’?  Or is it because we’re not getting them? 
Eurobest is full of bright young things. So are our departments. But what about the bright old things? The ones who built this industry.
"Who taught us about the beautiful idea. About craft. The ones who gave us their precious time, but we no longer have time for.
Who we will not hire. Who we’ve abandoned just because of a number.
"Our industry clearly isn’t as free thinking as we think. We are obsessed with youth at the expense of brilliance, richness, and experience. In the UK, the over 55s account for just 5% of agency staff. And I bet you they are sitting in the boardroom.  Not in the creative department.
"I started my Eurobest rant off with a bit of audience participation. I asked everyone to stand up. Then asked the under 20s to sit down. Then the under 30s. Then the under 40s. Then the under 50s. Then the under 55s.
"There was only one person left standing. Is this because we are no longer inviting the over 55s to our party? And since when was it our party? It’s everyone’s party.  And everyone’s invited. Aren’t they?"

Nicky Bullard was President of the 2016 Direct jury at eurobest, and served on the 2015 Cannes Lions Direct jury. And since we’re talking about ageism, it’s a good excuse to revisit this shortlisted campaign from Lions Health 2016 which touches upon the issue of ageism in western societies.

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