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Forum letter writer says CPF Board marginalised senior citizens with retirement ad despite clarification

Despite the CPF Board's clarification, Mary Olympia Chacko has said that the advertisement "has succeeded only in marginalising our seniors further as being passive, slow and pushovers" instead of targeting the right audience




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A forum letter has said that the recently launched commercial by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board has only marginalised the elderly instead of educating the public on retirement planning like it intended to do, despite a clarification released by the authority.

Last month, the CPF Board released an advertisement, entitled ‘Tsk’, aimed at encouraging viewers to take steps in planning for their retirement.

The commercial shows a young man on board a bus being unnecessarily loud and inconsiderate and several senior citizens tut-tutting at him.

The seniors reaction, however, appears to be perceived as rude by a younger lady on the bus who appears to sympathise with the young man – until the young man gets in her way as she tried to alight the bus. The woman tuts at the young man but catches herself and seems to be embarrassed that she responded in the same manner the elderly passengers did.

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Appearing to confirm that it intends to portray tut-tutting as rude behaviour, the advertisement states: “1 in 2 Singaporeans live beyond 85. You may be one and ‘tsk’ others too. We are living longer. Learn how you can be ready for your retirement with CPF…”

Netizens blasted the advertisement and said that the commercial makes seniors in Singapore appear rude and obnoxious. While some felt that they don’t understand what tut-tutting has to do with retirement planning, others found the advertisement distasteful and asked the authority to take the video down.

In response to the feedback it has received, the CPF Board told the Straits Times that the commercial was released after it was tested with a range of Singaporeans, many of whom found the advertisement to be relatable. It said:

“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.”

The authority, however, acknowledged that the commercial has garnered divisive responses. It said: “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.”

Promising that it will “strive to improve how we convey our messages in future,” the CPF Board added that it believes the elderly “should be respected and appreciated for their contributions to society.”

Despite its clarification, a forum letter writer has said that the advertisement “has succeeded only in marginalising our seniors further as being passive, slow and pushovers” instead of targeting the right audience.

In a letter published by the Straits Times yesterday (23 Sept), Ms Mary Olympia Chacko wrote despite CPF Board’s explanation, she still fails to see “how a busload of “tsk”-ing seniors will move Singaporeans to take action on retirement planning.”

Revealing that she initially mistook the advertisement to promote the Singapore Kindness Movement, since it focuses on an obnoxious young man, Ms Mary pointed out that there is little to indicate that the commercial is actually about retirement planning. She added that even the final frames of the advertisement failed to alert Singaporeans on the importance of timely retirement planning.

Noting that the advertisement should be targeted at young working adults since retirement planning should start well before one reaches the retirement age, Ms Mary asserted: “Unfortunately, the ad has succeeded only in marginalising our seniors further as being passive, slow and pushovers.”

Criticising the CPF Board for pitting one group over another, she added: “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.”

Read her letter in full HERE.

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