Canadian Ad Shines a Harsh Light on Elder Abuse

Acart's spot is frighteningly grim

An elderly woman and her caregiver are chatting over tea when darkness descends and the younger woman's smiling countenance turns malevolent and her tone grows harsh. "It's just another thousand. This investment's a sure thing. You're so sweet—I'll return your bank card the next time I see you." She concludes with an almost demonic outburst: "Sign the check or find someone else to look after you!" Then the light returns, and the placid scene continues. This powerful PSA by Acart Communications for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada makes a wise choice in playing like a melodramatic physical-abuse scenario without going too far over the top. The new spot focuses on the financial part of abuse, following a 2010 campaign that was about elder abuse in general, including physical abuse. In its style, the ad is quite reminiscent of this British drunk-driving PSA. The edge-of-violence approach subverts the perceived subtlety of social situations like these—showing that they're really not so subtle—and potently suggests that bilking or bullying seniors into parting with their money can be just as vicious, humiliating and hurtful as a punch to the face or kick to the ribs.