Short List
Product / ServiceELDER ABUSE
CategoryB05. Use of Print / Outdoor
Media Placement FCB NEW ZEALAND Auckland, NEW ZEALAND


Name Company Position
Tony Clewett FCB New Zealand Chief Creative Officer
Lennie Galloway FCB New Zealand Creative - Copywriter
Thomas Gledhill FCB New Zealand Creative - Art Director
Jenni Doubleday FCB New Zealand Creative Services Director
Jess Drysdale FCB New Zealand Hive Producer
Mike Braid FCB New Zealand Content Director | Editor
Sean Keaney FCB New Zealand General Manager FCB Wellington
Jade Seaton FCB New Zealand Account Manager
Anne Lipsham FCB New Zealand Head of Strategy - Media
Scarlett Harvey FCB New Zealand Account Director - Media
Rachel Berryman FCB New Zealand Digital Account Director - Media
Joanna James FCB New Zealand PR Senior Account Director
Katie Smith FCB New Zealand PR Account Manager

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

The Office for Seniors’ operates as a government watch dog for elder citizens in New Zealand; looking out for their welfare and offering support if they experience abuse. However, it’s hard to be a watch dog when your target audience, people aged 65+, are often hidden behind closed doors. They desperately needed a way to reach the unreachable. And Undercover Crosswords did just that. It was an idea that could slip through the cracks and directly into the hands of the elderly undetected, in even the most controlling of homes.


Shockingly, elder abuse is rampant in New Zealand, with over 70,000 being abused each year. What’s worse, over 75% of abusers are their own family members. The Office for Seniors had just created 0800 EA NOT OK; a helpline for these victims (aged 65+). But hardly anyone was calling. Not because they didn’t need help, but because there was little awareness of what elder abuse was. Elderly believed that if they weren’t being hit or sexually mistreated, they weren’t truly being ‘abused’. On top of that, pamphlets advertising the helpline were most likely being thrown out by abusers before victims could see them. So, our job was to find a way to educate elderly on what elder abuse is and urge victims to call the helpline – all without alerting the abusers themselves.

Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)

The Office for Seniors needed to covertly educate elderly on what isn’t ok and urge victims to seek help via their helpline. From our research on elderly media usage habits, we knew a digital campaign would be fruitless and that we needed to think traditional (with a twist). So, with New Zealand’s top national and regional newspapers, we launched 3.6 million Undercover Crosswords. At first glance, they appeared like ordinary newspaper crosswords – something most elderly pore over every day. But each daily crossword had one special clue, defining a type of mistreatment elderly face. For two weeks, all our clues led to the same answer: abuse, followed by the helpline.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

With no money for expensive TV ads and the high possibility of abusers throwing out any overt helpline material, we needed to be innovative. So, our plan was to take a popular pastime - the humble daily newspaper crossword -and turn it into a lifeline for elderly. However, crosswords are typically a non-commercial space. So, we needed to form a special partnership with newspaper publications around the country to have freedom to change the daily crossword every day for two weeks. We didn’t plan to use crosswords solely because of their popularity amongst elderly, or because they’re inconspicuous. The daily nature of newspaper crosswords, and the descriptive nature of the clues, would provide us with an ideal space to give elderly the definitions of elder abuse every day, until they had the full picture on what constitutes mistreatment – so they could then decide whether they should call the helpline.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

Over a two-week period (leading up to Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15) we ran 10 covert crossword clues to educate elderly about the 10 most common types of abuse - such as failing to repay money, neglecting medical needs and over-medicating. Our elder abuse clues had to be as undercover as possible. So besides changing out one clue and answer each day, and adding a small prompt to call the helpline below the crossword, we did not alter the look of the daily ‘Quick Crosswords’. In total, we ran 3.6 million Undercover Crosswords in most NZ newspapers, with a particular focus on papers in the problem regions. Once the crosswords had gone out and victims had had time to seek help, we got the media and newspapers that ran our crosswords to take the story to the nation; helping to push the issue into the open.

List the results (30% of vote)

The first objective of our campaign was to increase help seeking via the elder abuse helpline. In the first week of the crosswords running, calls increased by 112%. By the end of the campaign, calls to the helpline further increased to a total of 271% - marking the highest level of calls since the helpline’s launch. Our second objective was to raise national awareness of what constitutes elder abuse. So, once every crossword had gone out and victims had had time to seek help, we took the story to the nation. Post-campaign analysis revealed that one third of New Zealanders were aware of the campaign. And, more than half of those said it changed their view of what elder abuse is and who the main abusers are. This change of perception was crucial in helping New Zealanders and elderly recognise and report abuse going forward.