May 02, 2012
OTTAWA - A proposed tough-on-crime TV spot about elder abuse proved a little too creepy for seniors, new documents show.
Focus groups found the 30-second commercial, which featured an elderly woman inspecting a police lineup of suspected fraudsters, to be "off-putting/frightening."
Market-research firm Ipsos Reid urged the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development to use another, less unsettling ad.
"In borrowing of the symbols of law and order, the ad led participants down the wrong path," the company wrote in its February report.
"The criminalization might actually deter seniors from reporting abuse out of fear of losing their loved ones or needed caregivers. Police presence might be a deterrent for seniors from different cultural backgrounds."
Ipsos Reid ran 11 focus groups in Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax and London, Ont., last November. Seniors, caregivers and front-line professionals took part.
Not all participants found the ads so frightening.
"This is very direct," one participant told Ipsos Reid. "We know that a crime has been committed and we are going to identify who and how."
The Canadian Press obtained the focus-group report under the Access to Information Act.
The Tories have introduced legislation that would amend the Criminal Code to impose tougher sentences on those convicted of elder abuse. The stiffer sentencing provisions were among the Conservatives' promises during the last election campaign and were also mentioned in last year's speech from the throne.
Seniors groups often complain that sentencing in elder-abuse cases is too lax. They claim abuse affects about one in 10 seniors and often goes unreported. Even when reported, convictions are rare.
The police line-up concept was one of three TV spots put to focus groups.
A second ad showed seniors being defrauded in their homes by credit-card scams and smooth talkers. Focus groups found this the least effective of the three ads.
The third spot showed a woman in her 40s portraying different kinds of people who scam seniors. The camera pulls back to reveal she is speaking to an elderly woman in her kitchen, which is surrounded by yellow police tape that reads "This is a crime scene."
Then the senior rises from her chair and breaks through the police tape.
A 1-800 number at the end of each spot confused the focus groups, who thought they were supposed to call it to report a crime when it was actually meant to provide more information about elder abuse.
SOURCE: Global Toronto
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