Acclaimed Photographer Platon Illustrates Poverty Among Seniors in Stirring AARP Campaign

Grey's latest brings attention to this ongoing problem

The work dramatizes the everyday struggles of elderly Americans. - Credit by AARP Foundation
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

One in seven American seniors currently lives in poverty, with millions relying on benefits and the generosity of family and friends to meet even their most basic needs.

AARP Foundation president Lisa Marsh Ryerson said this hidden symptom of the United States’ ongoing economic recovery is “a widespread and deeply disturbing problem”—and it’s central to the latest campaign by the organization’s agency of record, Grey. The PSA effort, titled “The Face of Poverty Isn’t Who You Think,” includes two TV ads that dramatize the daily struggles of seniors looking for ways to afford essentials like hot water and health.

“Even when you prepare, life doesn’t go as planned,” reads the copy in the spots, which direct viewers toward the website of the AARP’s charitable foundation.

“These ads are a call to bring senior poverty out of the shadows and into the mainstream American narrative,” said Ryerson. “They’re a rallying cry for action that fosters resilience, strengthens communities and restores hope.”

A second, seemingly sentimental spot quickly turns into a horror story that is all too common for seniors.

Beyond the TV work, the campaign includes a series of print and digital images shot by Platon, an acclaimed British photographer best known for his intimate face-forward shots of celebrities and politicians like Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, whose image graced the cover of Time’s 2007 Person of the Year issue.

The effort extends to social media, special events, public relations and sponsored content, such as this piece appearing in The Atlantic.


Client: AARP Foundation
Agency: Grey
Campaign: “The Face of Poverty Isn’t Who You Think”

Chief Creative Officer: John Patroulis
Executive Creative Director: Linda Mummiani
Executive Creative Director: Caitlin Ewing
Group Creative Director: Jon Sayegh
Senior Art Director: Kyle Janisch
Senior Copywriter: Earl Myers
EVP / Account Director: Irene Little
SVP / Account Director: Alan Perlman
VP / Account Director: Jennifer Luongo
Account Executive: Jillian Barcia

Production: Townhouse
Townhouse Head of Integrated Production: James McPherson
Townhouse Exec. Producer: Lori Bullock
Townhouse VP Producer: Eric Camins
Townhouse Music Producer: David Steinberg
Production Company (location): Variable
Director: Lloyd Lee Choi
Director of Photography: Daniel Stewart
Editor: Chris Mitchell at Rock Paper Scissors
Music: Asche & Spencer
Sound Design and Audio: Mophonics and Ryan Hobler at Townhouse

Don’t miss Brandweek, coming up September 23-25 in Palm Springs. No panels, no sales pitches—just three days of interactive discussion, problem-solving, entertainment and networking. Learn more here.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: August 23, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT