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Agencies Agency Culture Women's Health

Advertisers forget (or ignore) the power of the crone

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By Cat Wiles, Chief strategy officer

August 14, 2023 | 5 min read

Cat Wiles, chief strategy officer of Lucky Generals, reclaims the word ‘crone’ in a powerful piece about ageism in advertising.

Crone

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A woman over 40 has stepped into her power. She’s not a reasonable or obedient woman; she no longer wishes to contort her true self to remain pleasant, agreeable, and voiceless.

Writing this from the other side of 40, at times, I can’t help but sometimes feel like I’ve been involuntarily transported through a portal where all of a sudden, on so many different levels, I am treated/labeled differently... I no longer feature in ‘under’ lists but in the ‘over’ ones. Health-wise, I have a flurry of new labels/needs – over 40 vitamins, letters about mammograms, and if I were to fall pregnant, I would be labeled as having a ‘geriatric pregnancy.’

And we can add another label to that litany as I will be entering my crone era soon. It’s a toe-curling term that summons a whole host of negative associations, but it didn’t start that way. The word “crone” deserves a closer look.

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Originally associated with wisdom and knowledge gained through age, the term slowly but surely acquired negative connotations thanks to historical influences and ageist stereotypes.

Historically, there have been three stages of womanhood – the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. We tend to think of a Crone as a woman around the age of 50 – around the time she will be entering menopause. While in recent years, the taboo around menopause is showing signs of very gradually being busted, the stigma remains. 2023’s All In Census showed that one in four women in advertising would not feel comfortable discussing menopausal symptoms with their manager.

Perhaps no surprise in an industry that heavily skews younger than the norm, with only 6.5% of employees aged 50+ (IPA Census 2022). Regarding brands, a study from Kantar showed that 76% of women experiencing menopause or perimenopause don’t feel represented at all in advertising. In comparison, 65% feel underserved, with brands not doing enough to support them.

But what can we, industry and brand owners, do to start supporting older women better?

It’s important to remember ageism isn’t just about including older individuals. Of course, the first step is representation, but we must push beyond that and start looking at more innovative and surprising ways of tackling ageism.

At the heart of this is respecting and valuing people of all ages and recognizing the unique contributions that each individual can bring to the table. By creating campaigns featuring older women alongside younger individuals, brands can emphasize the value of cross-generational knowledge exchange, challenging age-related divisions, and creating work that reflects older women’s diverse experiences and realities.

But the truth is that I don’t feel any different; in many ways, I feel much younger than my Crone-alogical age. And as it turns out, I’m not the only one. A study in Denmark found that people over 40 feel about 20% younger than they actually are. Yet I see barely any brands leaning into this outside of some of the biohackers I follow on Instagram who are challenging ageist stereotypes.

Isn’t it about time we start to see older women as people, not purses? This generation of women entering their crone era challenges stereotypes and defies convention. In 2025, the first Millenials will be turning 45, but many won’t feel it. Will we continue to ignore them, treating them as one homogenized group, or is this the perfect moment to lean into celebrating older women and all they have to offer – wisdom, balance, generosity, and service?

I, for one, will start by embracing my crone era.

Agencies Agency Culture Women's Health

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