“Parents don’t get B2B. LinkedIn does”.

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The Silver Marketing team watched this video and were appalled at the astonishing and deeply ageist message from Linked In’s own marketing communications.

Two advertisements feature older parents who apparently don’t have any idea about what their kids do for a living or the meaning of B2B. The first has the strapline: “Your mom thinks Cloud Sales is a weather forecast”, and the second shows a father who can’t understand his daughter’s use of acronyms such as SEO and KPI.

Jim Habig, vice-president of marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, commented: “We’re particularly proud of this campaign since it feels like it strikes a chord with anyone who’s worked in B2B marketing”.

We said “sorry Jim, but we don’t buy this. Contrary to your discriminatory beliefs, parents are not digital luddites who can’t turn on a laptop, and we resent your ageist tone and content. We at the Silver Marketing Association are a team of parents, aged 60+ , and we’re managing just fine in B2B marketing. We may be older but we are a lot wiser, and most importantly we understand how to market to the silver generation, which by the way is the wealthiest demographic in the UK controlling 80% of the nation’s spend. Would you like us to give you a tutorial?”

The post attracted a wide audience and range of comments all of which agreed that Linked-In has got this very wrong.

We heard nothing so a few days later we wrote directly to Jim for a comment, and then wrote to Blake Lawit, SVP and General Counsel at LinkedIn. We asked him:

“Do these ads uphold ‘LinkedIn’s legal and ethical commitments through high standards of business conduct and good governance.’ Don’t older people deserve more respect? As a company recognized as one of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’, how can you allow and sanction this kind of ageist marketing? It’s not ethical and it does not reflect well on high standards of business conduct.”

We told Linked In that we were campaigning for the ads to be withdrawn, and for an apology from Linked-In, as well as an assurance that any future advertising will be conducted ethically and with integrity.

A month later, and finally a statement from Jim Habig at LinkedIn in response to numerous complaints from its users, and posted on the Changing the Narrative page – a leading anti-ageism initiative.

“This ad didn’t meet our goal to create experiences where all professionals feel welcomed and valued and [we] are working to replace the spot”.
We were not the only ones calling out the original ad and it’s good to know that our collective voices have been heard and action taken.

 With thanks to Janine Vanderburg, Keynote Speaker, Writer, Trainer and Consultant committed to Slaying the Ageism Dragon who said:

“Friends at Silver Marketing Association, I truly believe it takes ALL of us. If we take concerted action every time we see things like this, we can #endageism. Thanks for all the work you do!”

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