Childless don’t fit advertising stereotypes

Do you pay attention to advertising? I tend to read or play video games during TV commercials, and I ignore the ads I see in print or online. But if you look, you might notice that the ads feature two types of women: young hotties and moms. Ditto for men. Either you’re surfing and mountain-climbing, or you’re a dad. Stereotypes. All women over 30 are mothers, all men are fathers. So target your advertising to parents. Think of all the stuff they buy.

Yeah, well, as writer Alina Tugend protested in a recent New York Times article, advertisers should also consider childless people. Click here to read her article, “Childless Women to Marketers: We Buy Things Too.

Advertisers don’t consider people like me either. When was the last time you saw an ad featuring a graying childless widow who lives alone in the woods with her dog? The ads for people in my age group always show great-looking man-woman couples enjoying their retirement on the golf course or on a cruise—when they’re not having fun with their grandchildren. Either that or they’re crippled and smiling as they ride a cart up a stairway. Where are the mature women and men who do things with friends? Or alone? Or who are still working? The ads suggest we all have partners, pensions, and money to live a life of luxury. Right.

Back to the mommy ads. No question parents buy a lot of stuff, from binkies to basketball hoops. This morning at the store, I watched a mom go through the list of back to school items for her kids. So many things! But my cart was filling up, too, with food and things for the house. And I buy paper, pens, and other so-called school supplies all year round for my business.

I have collected a few articles you might want to read.

“Why Don’t Advertisers Pay Attention to Childless Women?” by Elissa Strauss at Slate’s XXfactor.

“The Parent Trap: Marketing to Parents” from the Art institutes’ blog.

“10 Women in Advertising on Marketing to Women”. These women understand that women come in many variations. They analyze recent advertising and attempts to make things more equal.

We childless folks are becoming a bigger part of the population every day, and advertisers need to recognize us. They also need to figure out that people who do have children are many other things besides parents. As Tugend says, we’re here, and we buy stuff.

What have you noticed about the people portrayed in advertising? If you had the power to create ads, what would you put in them? Let’s talk about it.



4 thoughts on “Childless don’t fit advertising stereotypes

  1. Sue,

    You’re right as rain. Marketers don’t market to us. As a future attorney, I can tell you this is discriminatory. But, money talks and hogwash walks. We childless people are excluded from so much and it’s patently unfair. If I had it within my power, I’d market to people like us. I mean, men my age buy trucks, nice clothes, we go on cruises and we like to have fun. Women too. I wish I had the answer. Sadly, I don’t. I agree with you 100%.


  2. It’s totally true. I think the lack of representation in the media is part of the reason why, as I approach 40, I have no idea where I fit in the world. I feel like I don’t belong and I am supposed to hide out of sight somewhere because I’m not in my 20s anymore and I don’t have children.


  3. I feel like a non-person, sometimes. I’m pushing 60 and I don’t have children or grandchildren. I don’t fit society’s expectations of what a woman should be.


  4. I guess I’ve never really paid much attention to commercials. When I do watch TV, it’s something I’ve reordered and always fast forward through them. I think the only ones I ever notice are ones for chocolate. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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