Lifestage Marketing: Special Report

No-one likes old age. Except, that is, for a marketing agency called Millennium.

Millennium specialises in the grey market and is, itself, no spring chicken.

Now in its ninth year, it has 100 staff, clients including Swinton Insurance and Age Concern, and has been growing steadily every year since its launch.

The remarkable thing about Millennium is that it's one of a kind. (Some agencies have small, dedicated "grey" departments, but none are standalone.) The over-50s account for 80 per cent of personal wealth in the UK and 40 per cent of consumer spending, amounting to £145 billion a year. And it is the only part of the population that is actually growing. Over the next 20 years, the number of Brits older than 75 will rise by 43 per cent, the United Nations predicts - a common trend throughout Europe.

Problem is, mainstream agencies argue, seniors are difficult to market to effectively. This is a group that knows who they are, what they like and what they don't. So why waste your time when you could be talking to the young and sexy? (We meet five of them on page 26.) A bigger issue, though, Kirsten Clayton at Complan - a food company that targets the elderly - argues, is that advertising is a young business with little idea of how to gun for the grey pound (opposite).

It is twentysomethings that have been the ad industry's obsession since the 60s, when the Baby Boomers were a genuine reason to get excited about youth. But if the "real" people on page 29 are anything to go by, advertising has a tough job of connecting with anyone nowadays, regardless of their age. The 29-year-old Kevin Wing calls advertising "ruthless" and believes it is responsible for "an oppressive obsession with how people look".

And our over-50-year-old, Andrew Armstrong, can find only one practical use for ad breaks: "They provide the space for a pee."