CPF Board's ad on retirement draws flak for portrayal of elderly

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

Are senior citizens portrayed in a bad light in a recent Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board advertisement that shows them making their disapproval known with "tsk, tsk" sounds? Some people think so.

The CPF Board said yesterday that it will "strive to improve how we convey our messages in future", adding that the elderly "should be respected and appreciated for their contributions to society".

The ad, titled Tsk, was posted on the CPF Board Facebook page on Aug 6. It aims to encourage viewers to plan for their retirement.

It shows several elderly commuters tut-tutting at a young man who boards a bus. The young man is engrossed in a game on his mobile phone and behaves inconsiderately by, for instance, getting in the way of an alighting woman.

Netizens' responses have ranged from expressions of incomprehension to dismay, with some saying the ad failed to convey its intended message. Others said it caricatured the elderly as rude and loud.

A reader of Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao said: "Should people be made fun of just because they've grown older? This ad bullies the elderly and doesn't respect them."

The CPF Board said that message testing had been done with a range of Singaporeans, including those in higher age groups, before the commercial's release. It said many whom it spoke to found the advertisement relatable, adding: "A good number of our focus group respondents found that the messages of people living longer, and therefore needing to plan early for retirement, resonated with them.

"The light-hearted treatment of the television commercial was also easy to relate to."

 

Even so, the board also acknowledged that responses to the ad have been divisive, saying: "Since the launch, while some viewers may not have received the commercial positively, others felt that the commercial was memorable and made them realise the importance of planning for their retirement."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2019, with the headline 'CPF Board's ad on retirement draws flak for portrayal of elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe