Age Representation Done Proper

Dom Dwight, Marketing Director, Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate spills the tea on entertaining older viewers

The Wise Up! report from System1 and ITV offers a closer look at age representation in UK advertising and tips on how to effectively engage with the 55 and older segment of the population. System1 first analysed 2021’s top 1,000 ads by media spend in the UK, coding the creative according to age and gender. Then, more than 50 of these ads were put to the test with our Test Your Ad platform to measure the emotional response both the general public and older viewers have to the work. What we found was that older people may be easy to reach via television, but they’re much harder to please when it comes to advertising.

Yorkshire Tea was one of the top performers in terms of resonance for the older target, so we recently spoke with Dom Dwight, Marketing Director at Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate about Yorkshire Tea’s targeting goals, its “Everything Done Proper” campaign and the role that nostalgia plays in entertainment. A former journalist, Dwight has been with the family-owned business for more than a decade and has helped what was once a challenger brand become a top seller and customer favourite.

People who are 50 and older consume more cups of tea per day than those who are younger. Is Yorkshire Tea specifically targeting older audiences with its advertising?

Dom Dwight –

For the last decade, it’s worked well for us to target people in their 30s and 40s, as they are more likely to switch to a different tea brand. But we can’t overlook the older audience. They are our bedrock. They’re loyal, regular customers who also act like evangelists to convert more people to drink our tea. So while there is that younger audience whose attention we’re trying to win over, we want to make sure our ads don’t alienate our older viewers. We’ve found that using celebrities, particularly the older national-treasure-type celebrities, enables us to appeal to a broad group of people.

What was the inspiration for the “Everything Done Proper” campaign?

Dom Dwight –

The core of the strategy is that if your tea brand cares about doing things properly, then even the smallest tasks are done to the nth degree of properness. The best way to illustrate this is to find people who are famous for doing things really well. So we focused on using talent that was widely recognised and respected by people of all ages. There’s an upper tier of British celebrities who have been on our screens for a very long time. This means these people tend to be older.

Then we flipped the script a bit by playing around with the fame and getting the talent to do basic tasks. The juxtaposition between these established celebrities and the mundane situations brings out the humour and makes the advertisements memorable.

How does nostalgia play into ad effectiveness?

Dom Dwight –

Nostalgia sometimes gets a bad rap because we’re looking backwards at the past. But particularly nowadays, the world is quite a stressful and negative place. When you can present an ad that’s reassuring, it can be really entertaining as long as it doesn’t feel trite or like you’re merrily ignoring reality. There’s a sort of nostalgia associated with timeless celebrities. And there’s also a nostalgia that comes from the type of comedy we’re using – that kind of British sketch show humour. When we get it right, the ads feel classic and work for the older audiences and the new.

Are there risks to pushing humour too far, especially with older viewers?

Dom Dwight –

The creative end of the ad industry is populated by a lot of very young people, which can sometimes lead to the type of humour that everyone gravitates to – kind of postmodern, meta, ironic. But that might not speak to everyone. Whether it’s the style of humour or the aesthetics of the ad, brands and agencies may fall into the trap of putting forth their own niche preferences. So there is a watch out. Remember who you’re making the ad for and work to understand what they’d like to see, hear and feel while viewing it. Very niche references may be too specific to appeal to everyone.

How did you know the ad featuring Sean Bean hit the mark, and did that put pressure on making an equally effective ad the next time?

Dom Dwight –

This is an interesting story and one of my favourite anecdotes. People who had seen the commercial were calling into our customer service team to complain that we were showing the shorter version of the ad on television. This meant a few of the jokes had been removed. Viewers wanted to see the longer version that told the full story because they enjoyed it so much.

When we were looking to create the next iteration of the campaign, we were wondering how we could top the Sean Bean ad. When you keep raising the bar with each new ad, there are questions around where you go next and how you make it better. Thankfully we were able to get Sir Patrick Stewart, who is widely recognised and delivered a commanding performance for “Tina’s Leaving Do.”

Wise Up!

Brands can’t ignore the spending power of older adults. Access actionable insights to make ads that older audiences and the general population will love in System1 and ITV’s Wise Up! report.

Download Wise Up!