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During the Super Bowl, the big story was 41-year-old New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady, who is about 15 years older than the average NFL player, secured his record-setting sixth Super Bowl title. While Brady took center stage on the field, between plays, brands used the opportunity to spotlight another kind of powerhouse, Brady’s older generational peers: Gen Xers over 50.
With older members of Gen X entering their early fifties (the first Gen Xers turned 50 in 2015), this group is launching the next phase of life with significant purchasing power. In fact, Pew Research found that Gen X is the only generation that has recovered the wealth it lost in the last recession—and brands are taking note.
From Sarah Jessica Parker to Kristin Chenoweth and Jason Bateman, spots starring 50+ celebrities from the sandwich generation (those caught between Boomers and Millennials, and sometimes referred to as the forgotten generation) appealed to viewers of any age. By featuring these celebrities during the biggest TV moment of the year, brands sent the message that Gen Xers over 50 are more relevant than ever before.
Sarah Jessica Parker Embraces Change
Parker (53) teamed up with Stella Artois to reprise her role as Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City.” Fashion-conscious as ever, Carrie strolls into a bar and shocks the patrons and staff alike by trading her signature Cosmopolitan for a Stella Artois. The second half of the ad features an appearance by Boomer Jeff Bridges (69) recreating his role in “The Big Lebowski.” The spot closes with Bradshaw and Bridges toasting the benefits of embracing change.
Former latchkey kids who took care of themselves, Gen X is a generation that is independent-minded and willing to try new things. By bringing Bradshaw back, Stella Artois celebrates the originality (and fashion sense) of the early 50s set and reminds us that even as Gen Xers age, they’ll never go out of style.
Kristin Chenoweth Brings The Fun
Gen Xers are known for having fun, which has at times earned them a reputation as the slacker generation. Avocados from Mexico tapped Chenoweth (50) to bring her talent and relatability to a silly spot in which dogs train humans to compete to win “the ultimate prize”—avocados from Mexico.
Jason Bateman Makes Skepticism An Art Form
Hyundai leveraged 50-year-old Jason Bateman’s all-around likeability to talk about the less-than-likable process of buying cars. Bateman’s comedic skills, which he honed in iconic roles such as Michael Bluth in “Arrested Development,” make him the consummate Gen Xer—a nice guy with a tendency toward self-deprecation and casual humor.
The spot depicts Bateman as an elevator operator guiding customers to a series of unpleasant underground destinations, from a root canal floor to one for jury duty and another for car shopping. When a couple explains they are actually shopping for a Hyundai, Bateman reverses course and sends the elevator back up.
The Bottom Line
Four million Gen Xers will turn 50 each year for the next five years, which means these brands are among the first—but certainly not the last—to turn more attention toward this unique generation.
This article originally appeared in Thrive Global.