A senior official with the AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, on Tuesday took an apparent swipe at millennials over the popular “OK, boomer” message, arguing that the older generations “actually have the money.”
"OK, millennials. But we're the people that actually have the money," Myrna Blyth, senior vice president and editorial director of AARP Media, told Axios in an interview in which she addressed the group's success with its digital and print assets.
The remarks referenced a meme that pushes back against older generations' criticism of millennials and Generation Z. The two-word refrain of "OK, Boomer" has been embedded in dozens of viral posts on platforms such as Twitter and TikTok. The line gained further attention last week after a 25-year-old New Zealand lawmaker used it to dismiss a colleague who heckled her as she spoke about climate change in Parliament.
Blyth's comments led to criticism on social media, with many arguing that she seemed to miss why the "OK, Boomer" tagline had become popular. Taylor Lorenz, a New York Times reporter who covers internet culture, tweeted that the "problem" is that older generations "have the money."
Lol right.... that's the problem pic.twitter.com/AEeGeSfDuw— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) November 12, 2019
When reached for comment, the AARP pointed The Hill to a blog post addressing Blyth's remarks and the backlash they provoked. In it, Jason Young, senior vice president of Media Relations for AARP, expressed regret over how Blyth's statements were received, writing that the group "did not intend to contribute to an intergenerational feud."
"When [Blyth's comments] appeared out of context on social media, it was taken as a 'clap back' at Millennials. That is not what we intended. We regret how we made our case," Young wrote, adding that Blyth's larger point was that older generations are a "significant enough source of spending power that advertising executives" should not overlook.
While speaking with Axios, Blyth noted that the AARP's demo audience, which targets people over the age of 50, "drives $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity each and every year."
The group, which has about 38 million members, accumulates more than $174 million in media-based advertising revenue annually, according to public filings obtained by Axios. The news outlet added that "AARP The Magazine" became the most circulated magazine in the U.S. in 2017.
Millennials on average have amassed slightly less money than the Boomer generation did when they were the same age, according to a Pew Research Center report from earlier this year. The report said that the difference stemmed in part from millennials having more "outstanding student debt" and that the debt tended to be larger.