AARP + The Rolling Stones – What A Drag It Isn’t Getting Old

A possible gift to comedians everywhere, the AARP announced last November its sponsorship of the Rolling Stones Tour. This should certainly elicit at least a grin from baby boomers everywhere, but upon further investigation, this is a match made in heaven. We’ve already explored the sponsorship of the Rolling Stones by The Alliance for Lifetime Income (which went to even more adroitly sponsoring Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road farewell tour).

But the Stones are no stranger to financial acumen, Mick Jagger famously did not drop out of London School of Economics until the ink was dry on the band’s first recording contract. In fact, tour sponsorship got its start with the Rolling Stones. The same baby boomers (hopefully still grinning) probably remember Jōvan perfume, but they may not recall that the musk perfume brand was the sponsor on the 1981 Rolling Stones US tour. As a testament to ticket prices back in the day, the Stones apparently made a significant chunk of that tour’s revenue with the $4 million sponsorship by Jōvan.

In any event, I had the opportunity to chat with Barbara Shipley, AARP’s Senior Vice President of Brand Integration regarding the AARP’s sponsorship of the upcoming Rolling Stones tour. The tour opens this weekend in Houston.

Naturally, I kicked off our conversation with a question assuming that the sponsorship was a function of the prior sponsorships by The Alliance for Lifetime Income. Shipley indicated that “Our involvement was not related, we were aware of the prior sponsorships. The dot to connect is that is we have a solid history in sponsorship of music, education content, bringing music experiences.”

It evolves that the Stones’ organization reached out to AARP, and the organization was immediately intrigued. “It made an enormous amount of sense,” confirmed Shipley. “This would be two iconic brands coming together. Part of the AARP culture is to partner and as to the band’s nature of bridging generations, it is perfect.”

Punters in London can load up on Stones merch at their bespoke shop on Carnaby Street. (photo by Brad Auerbach)

Shipley went on to discuss the shared experience, cross generational and the emotional pieces of the concert experience. AARP “looks at brain health; music, dancing and social connection as being so good for your brain.” Indeed, the involvement with the Stones is not the first rodeo for AARP, they were front and center in Nashville at the 2022 Country Music Association Festival and previously at the Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival.

Shipley and her colleagues were fully convinced when the Stones put out new music; Hackney Diamonds is the Stones’ first album of new music since 2005. That is nearly a two decade wait, and most of the album stands up solidly.

Keef, Mick and (I Would if) Ron Wood (photo by Mark Seliger)

AARP turned 65 last year; the organization was started by a retired educator who recognized that the world of retirement was a goal, but there were no constructs for retirees. Over the years, AARP has shifted its eligibility downward from 65, actually 18 year olds can now join. AARP officially invites people to join at 50. In essence, AARP is a social mission project.

As we closed our chat, Shipley reinforced an AARP message, “At every age we are still producing, still doing new things. Music is powerful for AARP. Age 50+ is our target, and that is over 100 million people in the US. AARP aligns with that passion point, we were involved with the 50th anniversary of hip hop. We want to show how connected we are with audience. Music will never stop being core to AARP.”

Sorta like a rolling stone, no moss is the goal.


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.