Star power will once again be the name of the game at the Super Bowl this year, with the NFL’s biggest fan, Taylor Swift, no doubt commanding her share of camera time and social media chatter.
Major brands, however, had to lock in their spots months before the “Tayvis” phenomenon took off. A closer look at the trends they were tracking when planning for the Super Bowl, particularly in celebrity advertising, reveals a different focus: The 50+ consumer.
As the Super Bowl itself turns 58, the marketing around TV’s biggest moment has gone from tentative, limited nods towards the 50+ demo to a full embrace of this audience as a central part of the annual ad fest.
That is because marketers have increasingly come to the realization that far from being a niche audience, 50+ adults are at the very heart of consumer culture. This demo commands enormous spending power across all sectors, and no game-day marketing strategy can afford to ignore it.
50+ stars slated to dominate the ads everyone will be talking about
A quick look at some of the spots released so far give a sense of the depth and breadth of the different consumer categories whose ads have placed a big bet on appealing to the over-50 crowd.
Christopher Walken, 80, headlines BMW's return to the Big Game (two years ago, the brand’s spokesman for the Super Bowl was Arnold Schwarzenegger, now 76). Sports icon Wayne Gretzky, 62, leads the charge along with Vince Vaughan, 53, in one of the newest blockbuster ad categories, sports betting, while Lawrence Fishburne, 62 , is the voice of DoorDash, a breakout star in this year’s game, owing to its big stunt of giving away every item advertised during the game to one lucky fan.
Budweiser is even bringing back the Clydesdales. While the horses may not be over 50, many of those who will see them and feel a nostalgic tug from the classic ads of the ‘80s sure are.
And then there’s Oreo, whose viral stunt in 2013 of jumping on the unexpected stadium blackout with a well-timed social media post wrote them into Super Bowl lore, returning with 68-year-old Kris Jenner, set to take a walk down memory lane in this year’s highly anticipated spot.
Those over 50 are the mainstream faces of game day
None of these genres have been historically pegged as particularly suited to “older” consumers - and that’s the point. Slowly but surely, seeing 50+ faces in every kind of ad is becoming less remarkable and more of simply a no-brainer if you want to sell your product.
Those over 50 - even over 60, 70, 80 - are less frequently being used as the butt of jokes or relegated to pharmaceutical ads. They are being treated as a means to connect with an audience that is truly sought after and maybe, finally, really seen.
And why not?
Adults over 50 account for more than half of all of consumer spending in the U.S., according to the Consumer Expenditures Survey. You can bet that includes luxury cars, delivery services, food, wellness products, travel, and anything else you can advertise at the Super Bowl.
This group spends $458 billion more than adults aged 18 to 49, with households headed by people 55+ holding more than $92 trillion, or 69%, of the country’s total wealth.
Is it any wonder they are taking center stage on advertising’s biggest night?