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      The image of the elderly in German advertising: A systematic review

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      elderly, advertising, Germany, systematic literature review

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          Background: Despite the wealth of literature across disciplines on the image of the elderly in German advertising, no-one has successfully managed to pull the existing work together and review the entire literature in a way that gives full consideration to the quality, validity and explanatory power of the findings. This paper is a first step to assess and systemise key aspects of 31 original studies, which were published between 1975 and 2010, on the topic. Objectives: The objectives of the paper are threefold: Firstly, to identify existing original research on the image of the elderly in German advertising; secondly, to assess the quality of the existing works; and thirdly, to systemise key aspects regarding the topic. Method: A Systematic Literature Review (SLR) was utilised to synthesise the available research and offer a scholarly critique of literature. 11 quality criteria were derived from SLR literature and general guidelines for good scientific practice in order to evaluate the studies’ transparency – i.e., clarity about how, when, where, etc. the knowledge was generated. During this process, particular attention was paid to accommodate the high share of qualitative research within the field. Results: Despite the specificity of the topic at first glance, the research turned out to be very heterogeneous, with studies addressing a combination of different aspects in order to investigate the image of the elderly in German advertising. Nevertheless, similar structural features could be identified. The quality assessment indicated an overall mediocre transparency for the studies found, with particular deficits concerning sample justification, placing findings into existing context and implications for practice and/or research. Conclusions: Research on the topic has a long tradition in Germany, but lacks standardisation and sufficient transparency. Almost all studies worked to some extent in a vacuum – i.e., ignored each other. Moreover, the heterogeneity impedes the findings’ comparability and makes deductions of long term trends mostly impossible. Consequently, only a select number of research is suitable for future alignment, as their findings can be sufficiently assessed for reliability.

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