Aging Advertising Executives: Wise Sages or Rusty Anchors?

I’m fascinated by the aging process. As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown wiser. However, I’m discovering that, culturally, my growth is much slower. My tastes seem to remain locked in time, like an ancient mosquito imprisoned in amber. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I suspect it’s affecting my creative judgement.
The other day I found myself recoiling at a popular music track that had a couple hundred million views on YouTube. I shook my head and wondered how young people could listen to such derivative, unimaginative noise. And then it hit me… I sound like an old man. Like the ones I heard railing against my generation when I was younger.
It got me thinking.
Apple’s “1984” TV commercial is considered the best ad of all time. However, it would likely be received with yawns if it ran on TV in 2016 for the first time. That’s because an ad dramatizing a dystopian future in which a specific product is the cure has since been done to death. And yet marketing departments are still studying and imitating old ads and old formulas.
Should senior advertising executives retire earlier in their careers and hand over the reigns to someone younger before they become anchors in their companies? It’s a good question.
Over the years, I’ve had many advertising clients in their 40’s and 50’s who were painfully out of touch. Now I’m realizing that I’m not immune from that disease and it’s given me more perspective.
I’m only in my mid forties, but if I’m honest, I have to admit that I’m more and more out of touch with popular culture. The culture I’m appealing to every day.
So how can we possibly stay current as we age? I don’t know. It’s a vicious treadmill. And the speed setting is currently up around 9.5.
I think the answer is this: as senior advertising executives age they must be more self-aware and question their creative judgement more often. And trust younger execs who are more in tune with the core audience. That kind of approach is a true sign of maturity and humility.