CPF ad's intended message not communicated

Screenshots from the CPF Board's ad, titled Tsk, which aims to encourage viewers to plan for retirement. It shows elderly commuters tut-tutting at a young man. The board said it will "strive to improve how we convey our messages in future".
Screenshots from the CPF Board's ad, titled Tsk, which aims to encourage viewers to plan for retirement. It shows elderly commuters tut-tutting at a young man. The board said it will "strive to improve how we convey our messages in future".PHOTOS: CPF BOARD/YOUTUBE

I presume the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board consulted public communications experts before the release of its advertisement titled Tsk (CPF Board's ad on retirement draws flak for portrayal of elderly, Sept 20).

While the CPF Board has come out to explain, I still fail to see how a busload of "tsk"-ing seniors will move Singaporeans to take action on retirement planning. I mistook this to be an ad for the Singapore Kindness Movement as the focus seems to be on the rather ill-bred young man lacking social graces who thinks nothing of insulting the elderly commuters with his loud comments and cutting into the path of an alighting passenger.

There is little else that indicates that the ad is about retirement planning even in the final frames; it ends with the CPF Board logo and the general statistic that one in two Singaporeans will live beyond 85. Where or how does this alert Singaporeans to the need for timely retirement planning?

For retirement planning to be relatively painless, it needs to start way before one hits retirement. This message needs to get to the right target audience: young working adults.

Unfortunately, the ad has succeeded only in marginalising our seniors further as being passive, slow and pushovers.

For public education to succeed, the CPF Board should not and need not resort to putting down one group over another. And don't tell us this is about laughing at ourselves - the message is lost in all that laughter, if anyone is laughing.

Mary Olympia Chacko

Correction note: The article has been edited for accuracy.