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
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.
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
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.
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
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