Another Role for Aging Stars


As American baby-boomers start retiring, new career opportunities are appearing for the stars they grew up with. Actors such as Sally Field and Alex Trebek (Jeopardy host, aged 71) have started advertising products including hearing aids and joint pain medication. These advertising campaigns reflect several realities facing the American and other global populations: the desire for spokespeople that represent this important consumer group and the possibility for continuing your career past retirement age, even in a sector that is as age-conscious as Hollywood.

Marketing researchers suggest that advertisements using older, familiar faces give customers an added confidence in the product being sold because they imagine that these people do not need the money and would not be endorsing products or services they did not believe in.


As with most successful marketing campaigns, the companies started by identifying their target audience and then researching what kind of spokesperson they would respond to. Interestingly, they found that women of the baby-boom generation were, despite having lived through the sexual revolution, more likely to trust a male spokesperson. They also found that these women were more responsive to someone older than them, thus leading to the decision to hire actors such as Robert Wagner (aged 82) and Pat Boone (aged 77). Focus groups also showed that people may rank a celebrity highly when asked if they would like to have them over as dinner guests, but at the same time rank them as untrustworthy – ranking entirely others as very trustworthy.

It seems celebrities are responding to the confidence placed in them, with Fred Thompson of Law and Order fame acknowledging that he did his research before endorsing the American Advisers Group and that his 91-year-old mother is now one of their customers. Sally Field has been advertising bone-loss drug Boniva since 2006 and has stated that she is happy to talk about a drug she uses and benefits from.

It seems so far the focus groups have been fairly accurate, and that the celebrities endorsing these very important products and services feel a responsibility not only towards the companies but especially towards the customers, who are very much like themselves!



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