The cost of having a full blown mid life crises can be devastating for people; it can wipe out the subject’s life savings, and wreak havoc on their personal relationships. It’s not healthy, but it is natural, and there are more than a few industries with advertising messages directly targeting men and women experiencing this psychological malaise.
What is a mid life crises? David Bainbridge, an American evolutionary zoologist who wrote Middle Age: A Natural History explains the science behind the physical, mental and emotional changes that men and women experience between the ages of 40 and 60. His book reveals the evolutionary ‘personal benefits’ of middle age, which is unique to human beings and helps to explain the extraordinary success of our species. He takes a positive perspective on what has traditionally been viewed as a negative experience, a convulsive period of personal development equal to puberty for evoking ‘childish’ behaviour.
The crises happens in people who experience anxiety as they realize they have reached a midpoint in their lives and find dissatisfaction within themselves because of unrealized goals, or negative self-perceptions. Each man and woman in our society forms certain expectations for their lives, and when these dreams are threatened, it causes mental anguish and, in some cases, a bizarre response.
After age 40, most humans come to accept the collapse of their life goals and adopt a more realistic outlook on life. But some react differently. Some individuals double down and hatch a desperate plan to get ahead; they’ll spend their life savings to affect change. Even worse, they might construct ridiculous fantasies in which they believe they are indeed someone else, because this is less painful than accepting their true reality. Either way, they are meat for midlife crises marketers.
The advertisers prey on this angst, and often include ‘painful reminders’ inside the marketing messages they make targeted at middle age consumers. Some ads are so effective they can actually cause people to have a midlife crises. Here are the top industries that target this natural, but possibly unhealthy human condition.
Bad Credit Auto Loans
Embracing the stereotype, advertisements for bad credit car loans often portray an older man with a fist full of cash standing in front of a luxury car complete with a younger woman in the front seat. Or they might simply show the car and the girl alone with the understanding that these could be yours with proper financing.
Sales staff at Humberview Chevrolet says, it’s easy to spot the man having a mid life crises. He drives in a minivan and then spends an hour looking at the corvettes. And because he’s taken the time to visit the dealership, they know he’s serious. He’ll buy whatever his Beacon Score allows. The account manager asks probing questions to arrive at what they call the TDSR or Total Debt Servicing Ratio. The ideal candidate is the individual who requires only 25% of his income to live. That man or woman can then finance the car of their dreams.
This Toyota Camry Super Bowl Ad succeeds to address “Mid life Crises Marketing” in a humorous way.
Adventure Travel Packages, Hedonism, Extreme Sports
Adventure travel businesses target mid life crises candidates when they use words like ‘bucket list’ and ‘life accomplishments’. The mere reminder of our pending mortality in their advertising messages can trigger physiologically unstable readers to take more chances. Hedonism resorts built their entire business model on this notion.
River kayaking, rock climbing, snowboarding, heli-skiing, mountain biking are other common activities for mid life crises sufferers. A recent Lonely Planet article about 10 best places to have a midlife crises extols the virtues of traveling to Dubai, Las Vegas, Ibiza, and San Francisco among other exciting destinations. Backpackers and motorcycle puritans now join globalfreeloaders.com and use couchsurfing.com to find low cost accommodations where people advertise their spare rooms and couches for karma points they can put towards their own accommodations down the road.
Cosmetic Surgery Laser Clinics, Day Spas
Cosmetic surgery is another popular solution for both men and women suffering middle age anxieties. Tom Cruise is the ultimate poster child for male cosmetic surgery; he never seems to age, and most men believe they too could have this immortality with the right practitioners and enough cash to pay them. Men often start by simply dying their hair, and tanning their bodies. Comparative customer data shows the average male customer at a Canadian laser clinic is approximately ten years older, and $100k wealthier than his female counterparts.
Numi Laser Spa in Brampton, Ontario takes a high tech approach to help men and women through middle age. Their Mid Life Crises Spa Package advertises a ‘transformation in physical appearance using lasers and ultraviolet light.’
In the back of the clinic, well trained specialists do varicose vein removal, hair removal and skin tightening. Up front, the clinic has Ergoline tanning beds in which every bulb can be individually controlled to sculpt beautiful full-body tans. They promise a more youthful appearance and through the magic of modern science they can take years off a person’s face, and give their skin a healthy glow in just a few hours.
Even more fascinating is the latest development in fat reduction called “Coolsculpting” as offered by The Plastic Surgery Clinic in Toronto, Ontario. Harvard University scientists, Dieter Manstein, MD and R. Rox Anderson, MD, observed that some children got dimples due to eating popsicles. The idea that cold can selectively affect and eliminate fat cells without damaging the skin or surrounding tissue was the concept behind Cryolipolysis®, the science on which the CoolSculpting procedure is based. The CoolSculpting fat freezing procedure is FDA-cleared and claims to contour the body by safely and effectively freezing away unwanted fat for good without surgery or downtime.
Personal Fitness, Supplements and Sexual Health Industry
Perhaps the most positive mid life crises marketing happens in the healthcare industry with uplifting messaging that encourages people to visit a gym and workout their mental anguish and achieve new happiness through diet and exercise. Weightlifting, martial arts, and Iron Man Training are popular activities for men experiencing a mid life crises. Yoga, jogging, cycling, and aerobics training lead the list of activities for women who turn to exercise to build new bodies.
Supplements manufacturers target middle aged men by labeling their condition as andropause, or male menopause, wherein shifting hormones can lead to depression. Their diagnostic messaging usually has the words ‘mid life crises’ right in the copy. ‘As men grow older, their bodies produce less testosterone and human growth hormone which acerbates a mid life crises mentality‘, which the supplements industry hopes to remedy using their pills and capsules. A lot of folks become depressed during their forties and fifties and choose all types of medication, healthy or otherwise.
Many men equate youth with sexual vigor. A man’s mid life crisis can be exacerbated by feelings of sexual inadequacy. Everyone has seen advertisements that promise men new sexual powers and renewed stamina. Somewhere in these messages there’s usually a promise to help make an ‘eighteen year old body again’, which is reported to be a man’s sexual prime. Using this measuring stick causes consumers to reflect back on their own lives and ponder the likelihood of having their best sex again, or better sex in the future. It’s a very successful tactic as a great many middle aged consumers desperately try to resurrect that aspect of their youth.
Positive Mid Life Crises Messaging
The first ever Mid Life Crises Show is happening in October 2015 in Victoria, British Columbia. Brent Butt of Corner Gas will headline The MidLife Crisis Show October 2 & 3, 2015 and seventy eight exhibitors are booked for Carson Hall. The ad copy on their websites reads, ‘Learning to fly, finding the right contractor, river cruising in Europe, the latest in bicycle gear, downsizing your home, creating a family video, getting your financial ducks in a row, spicing things up in the kitchen, even spicing things up in the bedroom and much more is available for you in the exhibitor section of the show.’
Surviving a Mid Life Crises
It is possible to experience a positive mid life crises or life-cycle recalibration without plunging deep into debt or destroying families and friendships. Men and women who win the most from their catharsis are those who question themselves the most successfully, and in their search for answers find new values, new security, and greater comfort in their own bodies and their place in the world.