I was in bed the other night, reading with the TV on in the background, when actress Diane Keaton showed up on the screen peddling L'Oreal products. For the record, I'm a fan of both, but my head did an "Exorcist" spin-around when I heard her deliver the brand's signature tagline with this tweak: "Because you're still worth it."
"Did I hear that right?," I poked my snoring husband. "Did she just say 'still worth it?'"
Putting the beautiful 60-something Keaton together with some "age-defying" skin care product line is fine, but making the assumption that because of my -- her -- age I somehow lost my way in the self-worthiness department pushed my buttons -- the wrong buttons.
In the mid-2000s, L'Oréal changed its famous advertising slogan -- "Because I'm worth it" -- to "Because you're worth it." I'm sure they spent countless fortunes on focus groups to convince themselves that this was a seriously important change and to some extent it was: It reflected the end of the "me generation" where what we did was all about us. It was time to take the focus off ourselves. Frankly, I approved and wondered what took them so long. And then when they created a product line for kids, they gave it the slogan "Because we're worth it too" -- cute, I thought.
What I don't get is why L'Oreal now thinks I need to be assured of my worthiness. I never stopped thinking I was worth it, but by pairing up an over-60 actress with anti-aging creams and this new "still" slogan, I'm guessing that's what L'Oreal thinks -- that if you are old enough to need to slather your skin with their stuff, you must be feeling pretty invisible about now.
I don't feel invisible. But I do think L'Oreal thinks I am. I may not look like any of their celebrity pitch-women, but at 61, I do love the surprised look on people's faces when I tell them my age. And when they say "You don't look 61" -- which they invariably do -- I borrow Gloria Steinem's famous retort about not looking 40 and tell them that actually "this is what 61 looks like."
By tweaking their commercial to appeal to boomers, L'Oreal has made a major miscalculation: We aren't our father's Oldsmobiles. I "got" their message when they hired Keaton as their pitch-woman. But with one simple word, they lost me. Does L'Oreal really think I need to be told that just because I have a few wrinkles, I still deserve to be treated well? And if I'm "still" worth it, when will I stop being worth it? Does worthiness have an expiration date?
Before you dismiss this as being too trivial an irritation -- and granted it's not up there with straightening out the mess of the economy -- let me say that words are the only weapons in my arsenal and I think L'Oreal needs to hear this: If they want to assure anyone of their worthiness, maybe it should be the 20-somethings who can't find jobs and have been feeling pretty low lately as they move back in with their parents. The unemployment rate for those 20 to 24 years old is 14.2 percent; for those aged 55 to 64, it's only 6.2 percent. And P.S.: We're still the ones with the bucks, so maybe you want to rethink things.
For what it's worth, other advertisers have figured out how to speak to me. I love the Jeep ad that reads, "The grand-kids say I'm 'really cool now' but what they don't know is I always was." I'm fine with others' discovering my cool factor, love it actually. What I'm not fine with is any assumption that I have somehow lost my relevancy because I blow out more candles on my birthday cake.
Boomers are the great American consumers. When they said "the one with the most toys wins," they were talking about us. Even TV and movies have recognized that our purchasing power is worth pursuing. Or should I say, still worth pursuing?