Advertisers flock to sign up older models

Retailers chase the "grey pound"


South Bank Sky Arts Awards - London

Not so long ago, the fashion pages were filled almost exclusively with pictures of half-starved fourteen-year-olds: but not any more. Following the success of 'real women' advertising campaigns such as Dove's, advertisers have realised that older models, too, can prove a draw.

Marks and Spencer was one of the first to cotton on, recruiting 1960s supermodel Twiggy in 2005 - and reporting that clothes were "flying out of the store" as a result. More recently, 70-year-old Catherine Deneuve has been fronting the latest Louis Vuitton campaign and 62-year-old Jacky O'Shaughnessy has become the new face of American Apparel.

The change reflects the increasing importance of the grey pound. A report for Saga from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) released earlier this year found that the over 50s accounted for more than 47 percent of UK household expenditure in 2012 - and that the proportion was rising.

"The over 50s have become, through their hard work, big earners and even bigger spenders – today they account for some 76 percent of the UK's financial wealth," says Saga's strategy director, Tim Pethick. "Their confidence in the future has made them willing to lift their spending faster than other age groups and, in doing so they have helped drive the UK out of recession."

And thanks to this increased focus on older shoppers, there's been a boom in modelling jobs for those rather less famous than Twiggy or Deneuve. Catalogues have always had a strong demand for older models, and the rise in online shopping has brought even more opportunities.

"There are so many different types of job available for older models. Modelling is not a profession like being a footballer for example, where your career can be over by the time you hit your 30's and 40's," says Stevie Lake, marketing manager at UK Model Agencies.

"Mature modelling means being able to carry on with your career with no worries, or even starting out on a brand new one. It can be done right up until you're drawing your pension and enjoying a break from the job you may have been doing all your life."

Earlier this year, TK Maxx hired 62-year-old catering assistant Olga Nicole Taylor as part of its "Me. By Me." campaign to include real shoppers in its advertisements.

"Even though I am semi-retired, this campaign has made me realise amazing things can still happen at an older age and life can still be really interesting," she says. "I still can't believe at 62 I would become a model; I can really say that you never know what good things life still has in store - just be yourself and be open to new experiences."