LONDON: At least 44% of British women aged 50 and over find advertising to be patronising, while more than a quarter (27%) believe ads contribute to negative stereotypes of their age group, new research has revealed.

This headline finding comes from “UK by UM”, an ongoing study of stereotypes in advertising conducted by media agency UM in association with Credos, the advertising think tank established by the Advertising Association.

Based on responses from 1,000 UK adults, the survey also revealed that almost a third (31%) of British women of all ages feel patronised by advertising, but this sentiment is felt most keenly by older consumers.

Close to half (45%) of older women agree that “society expects them to vanish from public life as they get older” and this rises to 61% among menopausal women.

Looking specifically at the attitudes of menopausal women, the study found that half don’t believe this stage in life has been authentically represented on any channel in popular culture.

And they regard advertising is one of the worst offenders, with three-quarters (74%) saying ads fail to portray menopausal women with any sensitivity.

Included among the harmful, age-related, female stereotypes are ads that portray them as being out of touch with technology (42%), along with more overtly offensive “mumsy/frumsy” (32%) and “mutton dressed as lamb” (32%) depictions.

Menopausal women attribute the current lack of awareness to a lack of understanding (65%) and because people tend not to talk about the menopause (61%). And this might explain why 13% of men admit that they’re not clear about what it is.

Yet importantly for brands, UM said they’re missing out on huge, untapped, commercial potential because a quarter (24%) of menopausal women say they spend more time and money on fitness, 29% spend more on skincare and 22% buy more holidays.

“Talking to menopausal women in a way that doesn’t immediately stereotype and offend them has huge commercial potential for brands,” said Sophia Durrani, managing partner of strategy at UM.

“Not to mention that six out of ten women believe advertising plays a role in challenging stereotypes in society more broadly,” she added. “Despite some recent powerful and award-winning campaigns, female audiences want more accurate and sympathetic reflections of women like them in all their many roles and in every stage of their lives.”

Sourced from UM; additional content by WARC staff