Shameless Promotion or a Fun Read?

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad”- Howard Luck Gossage

Top things to do before you are 50

On that point, I didn’t mind a bit that SunLife as part of their ‘Welcome to life after 50’ campaign have commissioned a survey of over 2000 over 50s to find what 50 things you should do before you turn 50. In terms of campaign goals, if one was to appear as a news story across all the major news sites in the UK, in regional and national press, including The Sun, the Metro and The Guardian, they achieved this with knobs on. The campaign even made it onto BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours, where Comedian Arthur Robinson was invited to share his top 5 with Winnifred Robinson, who incidentally wouldn’t be drawn on air on whether she’d been skinny-dipping or tried drugs.

For Big 50, we’ve interviewed 50,000 people over 50 so that we understand better than any other insurance company what people over 50 want and value

Accompanying the campaign turned news item was a video on life at 50 according to kids. It turns out that kids believe that when you get to 50 your skin starts to melt and you drink a lot of wine!

50 things to do before you are are 11 ¾

The National trust issued a list a couple of years ago  – 50 things to do before you are are 11 ¾. I still remember the sense of achievement felt by my son (and me), after a night walk at Centre Parcs enabling him to tick off the last of the 50 things to do. Although I’m not entirely sure what the wild animals we were tracking were, or whether the glow worms weren’t the eyes of a couple of stray cats. Similarly, with SunLife’s list, I was provoked by a mild sense of curiosity and could not resist running through it to see how many of the things I could tick off, being the wrong side, (or is it the right side, I’m not sure) of 50. I rather regret never having been to Edinburgh Fringe or having owned my own business before I made 50, but I can tick the number 1 on the list, buying a home and I am old enough to have spent a month without technology. These 2 of the listed items will almost certainly elude my children. I do confess, however to not knowing even now which side of my car the petrol cap is on, despite having owned it for almost 10 years, but I consider myself no less a person for it.

Getting a tattoo was named something to do before you are 50

SunLife’s Ian Atkinson added: “For Big 50, we’ve interviewed 50,000 people over 50 so that we understand better than any other insurance company what people over 50 want and value, so that we can flog them our over 50s policies” (the italics are mine). But who would read on if SunLife had instead chosen to tell us we could find our perfect plan at SunLife for as little as £3.90 per month, I’m already falling into a coma.

Manmade Wonder The Leshan Giant Buddha – Sichuan Province, China

At BBC StoryWorks (BBC Advertising’s Content Division) we were proud to create award winning content in partnership with our clients. We entertained with HSBC’s The World is My Oyster, informed with Dassult Système’s Beyond Limits, inspired with Vacheron Constantin’s stunning images of Wonders of Mankind and moved our audiences with Huawei’s Against All Odds mini documentaries. To go back to the 1950s adman Mr Gossage, people consumed this content because it interested them – the fact is was commercially funded was incidental.

And if like me you can’t resist a look, whichever side of the big 5 zero you are on here they are:


Buy a house

Have kids

Get married

Fall in love

Eat fish and chips on the pier

Donate blood

Read 100 books

See your favourite musician/band live

Learn a language

Attend a music festival

Own a dog

Learn to say no to your mother

Stay out all night partying

See the Northern Lights

Visit Stonehenge

Be able to remember which side of your car the petrol cap is on

Travel somewhere alone

Sleep underneath the stars

Watch a meteor shower

Dance in the rain

Become an expert at something

Quit a job

See a volcano

Visit all seven continents

Throw a coin in the Trevi fountain

Take a helicopter ride

Have sex on a beach

Swim with dolphins

Go skinny dipping

Ride a gondola in Venice

Make a snow angel

Take part in a protest

Own your own business

Go in a hot air balloon

Ride an elephant

Climb Snowdonia

Jump into a pool fully clothed

Backpack across Europe

Perfect a signature dish

Drink beer at Oktoberfest

Run a marathon

Get a tattoo

Ride a Vespa

Watch comedy at Edinburgh Fringe

Write a novel

Write a journal

Spend a month technology free

Try drugs

Have a threesome

Go to an airport and pick a random flight

PLEASE NOTE: The BBC content referenced above is not accessible from the UK as it is part of the international service and not funded by the licence fee. It is produced commercially by BBC StoryWorks part of BBC Advertising, which is part of BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC and whose profits go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes.

Alison Farmery: Director, Lagoon Media, producing content and building products that help people become more informed, inspired, and engaged tomorrow than they are today.