CAMPAIGNS: A job problem as old as the hills - Public Awareness

The charity Age Concern conducts research, provides services such as Meals on Wheels and lobbies for political change. It wanted to launch an awareness-raising drive to support a Private Member’s Bill introduced by the Labour MP Linda Perham which proposed banning age limits on job advertisements.

The charity Age Concern conducts research, provides services such

as Meals on Wheels and lobbies for political change. It wanted to launch

an awareness-raising drive to support a Private Member’s Bill introduced

by the Labour MP Linda Perham which proposed banning age limits on job

advertisements.



Objectives



To raise awareness of the existence and widespread nature of age

discrimination and put pressure on the Government to introduce new

legislation regarding ageist practices in the workplace.



Tactics



Three weeks before the launch date the PR team compiled a report

entitled Making age discrimination a thing of the past which contained

case studies of discrimination in the workplace and outlined the case

for legislation.



They also commissioned the polling company Gallup to conduct a survey on

ageism of around 1,000 members of the public.



The poll concluded that 18 million Britons have experienced age

discrimination in the workplace. Due to budgetary restrictions, Age

Concern were unable to run an advertising campaign, but to develop a

strong image they worked with advertising agency Good Business to create

a take-off of the famous Wonderbra campaign using the 56-year-old former

model Pearl Read.



The campaign kicked off on 2 February to coincide with the second

reading of the Bill which was to take place at the end of the week. On

that morning at the Houses of Parliament the 48-sheet poster was

unveiled to journalists, photographers and TV cameras who included the

Press Association, BBC, ITN and Sky. The team released the report and

survey results and set up a two-day complaints line so the public could

ring in with stories of age discrimination.



On Tuesday Age Concern and Perham met with members of the all-party

group on ageing in the House of Commons and the Lords to discuss the

Bill and present the report and survey results. About five per cent of

the budget was allocated to research and evaluation.



Results



Disappointingly, the Government voted against the Bill. However, it did

announce plans to stop Job Centres putting an age limit on

advertisements and to introduce a voluntary code of anti-discriminatory

practice for employers.



The campaign received over 10 hours of radio and TV coverage appearing

on BBC Breakfast News three times during the week and twice on Radio 4’s

Today programme. A total of 550 articles appeared in the local and

national press.



Verdict



Many articles focused almost entirely on the colourful past of the

well-endowed poster star Read and the campaign was criticised by some as

patronising, but such a controversial image ensured the more serious

issues got excellent coverage in a diverse range of media from Punch

magazine to the Sun.



Although Perham’s Bill was unsuccessful Age Concern will use campaign

material to continue to lobby for wider anti-age discrimination

legislation in the future.



Client: Age Concern

PR Team: Age Concern’s communications departmen

Campaign: Age Discrimination Week

Timescale: Jan-Feb 1998

Cost: pounds 15,000



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