Why The Wanton New Bridget Should Be Adland's New Darling

She may balk at the idea - as may her creator - but Bridget Jones should be the poster girl for a web-savvy generation that becomes the spine for a new consumerism.

She may balk at the idea - as may her creator - but Bridget Jones should be the poster girl for a web-savvy generation that becomes the spine for a new consumerism.

Older and wiser, healthier but more paranoid, richer but with ever greater financial responsibilities, sexually liberated but having less sex, obsessed with their roots both on their heads and in the past, adventurous but expected to be boring.

I call them the Big Timers. You might call them Grey, Seniors, Mature, Ageing, New Youthers - any of those patronising, unpalatable nomenclatures.

For me, Big Time means a chance to live life with the sort of abandon you always imagined you could - but without the constraints of self-doubt and shackles of societal expectations. And with it comes an almost unparalleled opportunity in terms of marketing and advertising. A chance to launch a new type of conversation with a vibrant, active, interested audience that's fed up of being ignored. And Bridget's their unlikely heroine.

I undertook a piece of research recently for a global company about the digital habits of their over-50 customers. 80% of them have internet access, more than half that amount use the internet regularly yet, unbelievably, only 4% of that group feel that major brands meet their needs. Amazon was top of that list, followed by ebay. Even the BBC was pretty low down.

But the crucial thing is that whilst Bridget, her friends and their youthful parents, are intimately linked to the web, hardly anyone thinks it is for them. Which is a terrible anomaly considering that market is responsible for more than half of all household expenditure in Britain.

An Editor I once worked with famously and oafishly boasted that the internet had 'no bearing on his life whatsoever and I doubt it holds little importance to my readers'. Like him, politicians, marketers, advertisers, journalists and PROs are criminally ignoring the most interesting and radical group of consumers in Britain today.

For all her protestations, we've all known since the first calorie intake that writer Helen Fielding WAS Bridget Jones. And so it's no surprise that the single mum with several failed relationships, a small core of friends to whom she can turn, angst over her health, money, sex life and the rest of her years has returned to her fictional alter ego, and is now making lists about clearing cupboards instead of filling them.

Thirtysomething was once the phrase that defined society - at work and play. Today, it needs to be something different. Not Fiftysomething, that's too narrow. It ignores the Mirrens and Denches, Jaggers and Murdochs. The indefatigable who know that age is meaningless, indeed it's something to be worn as a badge of pride, that the internet - or at least some of the companies on it - need to be remade in their own image.

I'm calling them Big Timers. Perhaps Bridget might call them The Wanton Worrieds. My old editor would probably call them non-existent.


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