FCB New Zealand’s Undercover Crossword campaign ahead of World Elder Abuse Day has seen a 36% increase in call traffic to the Elder Abuse Response Service helpline in its first week.

Family members make up over 75% of abusers, so a covert method was needed to reach elders without their relatives catching wind.

The series of undercover crosswords ran in 20 newspapers around New Zealand 10 days prior to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, promoting the free helpline and highlighting the different forms of elder abuse.

Each day, a crossword clue educated elderly on a different type of (often unrecognised) mistreatment – such as failing to repay money, name calling and neglecting their medical needs – with “ABUSE” as the answer each time. The Elder Abuse Response Service’s helpline number 0800 32 668 65 appeared at the bottom of each crossword.

The Office for Seniors was revealed as being behind the crosswords in a video for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which appeared on their social media channels reaching nearly 800,000 people in one week.

Soon after the reveal, the campaign earned media coverage on 1 News, The Project, NZ Herald, Stuff and regional newspapers around the country, helping raise awareness and get New Zealand on the lookout for elder abuse.

Office for Seniors Director Diane Turner said, “The FCB team did remarkable work. The crossword campaign has helped us to reach some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people, and bring the issue of elder abuse into public view.”

Tony Clewett, Executive Creative Officer, FCB New Zealand said, “This idea took a complex issue and used creativity to educate New Zealanders about elder abuse in the homes of victims and potentially under the noses of their abusers.”

In a media-first integration, FCB Media partnered with NZME and Stuff, who provided access to non-commercial space for the crosswords in their newspapers.

If you are concerned about an elderly person and their wellbeing, get in touch with the Elderly Abuse Response Service 0800 32 668 65.