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Comunicar Journal 42: Revolution in Education? (Vol. 21 - 2014)

Critical analysis of government vs. Commercial advertising discourse on older persons in Spain


The elderly population has increased considerably in recent years and it is estimated that by 2050 32% of the Spanish population will be old people. This group is underrepresented in the media and does not attract much research interest. To put this right, we present an analysis of the representation of older persons in advertisements appearing in magazines aimed directly or indirectly at seniors in Spain. A content analysis estimated the frequency of appearance of the images and words that represent the elderly, and a discourse analysis enabled this study to investigate the presence of stereo types and discourse relations between advertising and theories of ageing. The results show that the older people who appear in the ads are mostly men portrayed as consumers of entertainment products who are at the beginning of their period of old age. A marked gender stereotype is observed. The differentiation between the institutional and commercial advertising discourse is also clear. The study analyses such advertising over three decades, covering the period in which the age distribution of the population has been inverted in Spain. Throughout this period, the frequency of ap pearance has been very low. Old people are clearly an invisible collective in magazine advertising.