Age Old Fun

Since October 2022 when the Silver Marketing Association circulated the press release supporting the Better Birthdays campaign  Canopy (one of the co-founders) has been meeting with senior executives in the UK Greeting Card industry, to raise awareness of the issues and implications of ageism.

One of the goals of the Better Birthdays campaign is to Influence the card industry and card designers, as well as buyers, to start producing and seeking age-positive cards.

As a result of these meetings ageism has been added to the agenda for the UK Greeting Card Association’s diversity and inclusion committee and an explanatory blog post about the campaign included on the Association’s website.

In the February issue of Progressive Greetings (the UK industry’s magazine) there was a two-page article, Age Old Fun, focusing on  ageism in Birthday cards with a range of designer’s perspectives commenting upon the issue.

It is significant that Amanda Fergusson, the CEO of the UK Greeting Card Association acknowledged that the industry didn’t know much about ageism or its effect on health and mental wellbeing. She says “There are emerging cohorts of older people who want cards which reflect their attitudes to growing older – age pride! We can also see that designs which aim to be age friendly sometimes miss the mark due to the subtleties of negative language or associated imagery”.

It’s unlikely that the greeting card industry will stop producing jokey (ageist) cards about ageing overnight, especially when they are still popular and sales are up and “some ” (older) people “love them”. However, it seems that the issue is getting on the industry agenda; as Jakki Brown, co-founder and Editor of Progressive Greetings says “while it is a complicated subject, the main thing is to get people thinking. They used to think it was OK to smoke in cars and wolf whistle!”

Do you buy cards which joke about ageing and how do you feel about receiving them?

But aren’t jokes about getting older just a bit of fun?

Senior executives in the UK Greeting Card Industry state that the relationship between sender, recipient and card is highly nuanced. They refer to the relationship between the buyer, recipient and the card as a “triangle”. It was important to understand and appreciate the “context” of that triangle.  The buyer would choose a card which reflected the nuanced relationship between him/her and the recipient. It was an intimate triangle within their relationship.

They highlight that according to their sales these types of cards are best sellers and many of those who buy them are themselves older people buying them for their peers.

The industry believes that in the vast majority of cases, the sending of these cards creates a sense of camaraderie, playfulness, reassurance and intimacy between sender and recipient.

What do you think?

Being able to understand how people experience these birthday messages both as senders and receivers, is really important in understanding how to design the kinds of birthday cards you want to send and receive. If you want to help us understand or you want to share your views please fill out our 3 mins survey Better Birthdays questionaire

Get involved

If the campaign is of interest and you would like to know we would love to hear from you as there are lots of ways you can get involved. Here are a few ideas:

  • Please share the survey with your networks, friends and families
  • Please buy and send great cards