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Maggie Smith, an influencer at 88, cements a new creative standard normalizing age


By Raquel Chicourel, Chief Strategy Officer

November 24, 2023 | 7 min read

A stunning ad campaign from Loewe caught Raquel Chicourel's eye and got her thinking about a generation of untapped influencers. Long live Dame Maggie Smith.

Maggie Smith for Loewe

Forget Amazon’s turkey gate and Snoop Dogg’s stunt for a fire-pit brand.

This is ‘the other bag ad’ winning Christmas this year.

The ad we should all be talking about. Alongside JD Sports’ ‘bag of life,’ this is the ‘other bag ad’ winning Christmas this year.

Loewe SS24 collection featuring Dame Maggie Smith in full glory is a showstopper on Hanbury Street.

It’s unapologetically real. No cosmetic surgery. No makeup. No photoshop.

It’s different to L’Oréal’s Age Perfect ads with Dame Helen Mirren and Julianne Moore.

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Dame Maggie is holding a bag for people of all ages. Not an anti-aging cream.

This ad helps normalize age diversity. Makes it a ‘non-issue’.

To quote Vogue. It’s evidence of how an icon in her 80s can influence women in their 20s.

It’s living proof there’s no such thing as women ‘being past their prime.’

To quote Michelle Yeoh. It’s more than a one-off age diversity statement (I hope).

It’s cementing a new creative standard that normalizes age in advertising.

Back in 2016, Harvey Nichols’ and Adam & EveDDB were first to boldly challenge the youth-obsessed fashion industry by featuring a 100-year-old model to celebrate 100 years of Vogue with the title ‘Ageism is so last century'. A great kickstart to age diversity in advertising.

From British Vogue’s The Non-Issue championing older women and their ageless style & beauty in 2019 to Dame Maggie Smith proclaimed as the new Fashion 'it girl’ in 2023 with her Loewe fashion pieces selling out to people of all ages, now we leap into a new era.

I hope this is the start of an ‘Agenassaince’ in advertising.

It is an era of true age diversity beyond one-off statements.

An era where age is not a limit but an asset. In a world that reflects the real value of age. And the real value of age is clear.

I could go on about how agencies often neglect older audiences. Yet, these audiences contribute $8.3tn each year in economic activity to the US economy, with a GDP expected to triple by 2050. But I feel we all know this. So, I won’t labor this point.

The point I’d like to labor is representation, though. With over 46% of adults in the US (and 55% in the UK) being over 50 but less than 5% of adverts and 15% of images on the internet acknowledging them, we need age diversity to permeate not just the ads we make but also the people making them and how we craft strategy, audience segmentation and storytelling.

Let’s stop overlooking this hell of an exciting audience.

Let’s stop labels like ‘the over 50s’ or ‘the boomers’.

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No audience should be put into ‘age buckets’ and slapped with a random label.

As an industry, we pride ourselves in being culture-first.

So here is a powerful cultural truth: age diversity appeals to people of all ages, and we need more of it.

  • Madonna is on tour in sold-out stadiums.

  • Cher’s first Christmas album went straight to number 1 on Billboard’s Top Holiday Albums chart.

  • Pamela Anderson’s no-makeup look at Paris Fashion Week is taking social media by storm.

  • Michelle Yeoh is the hottest Oscar-winning actor this year.

Think how two bestselling books sold last year were by ‘older women’, The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller and the debut novel by Bonnie Garmus, Lessons in Chemistry.

Long live the ‘Agenassaince’!

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