Case Study: Anchor puts grey pride into politics

The housing provider for older people decided to act after its customers got fed up with politicians ignoring them on important issues

Grey Pride: Campaign asks the government to appoint a minister for older people
Grey Pride: Campaign asks the government to appoint a minister for older people

It's not every day that a charity campaign gets the leader of the opposition to change the shadow cabinet team, but this was one of the achievements of Anchor's grey pride campaign.

Anchor is England's largest not-for-profit housing provider for older people, but its profile doesn't reflect its size.

The campaign aimed to address this while persuading the government to appoint a minister for older people.

Campaign coordinator Simon Peyton says Anchor's customers were fed up with politicians ignoring them on important issues, such as pension reform and library closures. "Forty per cent of the electorate are older people, but they feel let down," says Peyton.

An older people's minister could coordinate age-related activity across Whitehall, he adds.

Anchor wanted to challenge 'greyism' in a celebratory, rather than hectoring, manner - so it adopted an upbeat approach, including the 'grey pride' name.

The main focus was to get 100,000 people to sign a petition calling for a new minister.

The campaign began by highlighting ageist workplace attitudes, which resulted in Anchor chief executive Jane Ashcroft appearing on BBC Breakfast. A grey pride website, using Anchor's purple colour, was created, along with a Twitter feed.

The PR company Citizen Brando was hired to generate national media coverage and celebrity support. The TV presenter Esther Rantzen, the comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, the newsreader Angela Rippon and others agreed to help. More than 20 organisations also pledged support.

Two 'grey papers' highlighting the marginalisation of older people were published and the campaign regularly piggy-backed on topical media issues, such as the NHS.

Ninety-one MPs signed the petition and Prime Minister David Cameron was quizzed about the issue by MPs.

The petition attracted 137,000 signatures and the campaign, which ran from April to November, generated 1,078 media pieces, and prompted the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, to appoint Liz Kendall to the newly created role of shadow minister for care and older people.

A second phase of activity is due to begin this month.

EXPERT VIEW - Lara Samuels, director, The Communications Hub

Lara Samuels, director, The Communications HubBrands have increasingly caught on to the fact that the grey pound is a valuable commodity, so extending this to the world of politics was arguably overdue.

The grey pride campaign has attracted a groundswell of support and, by using a social movement model to effect change from the bottom up, fits in nicely with the government's big society approach. After all, if you're trying to capture the minds of politicians, it does well to play to their agenda.

Quite why the branding on the grey pride website is purple rather than grey is slightly perplexing. However, it's an original campaign that has got people talking and, most of all, it's actually succeeded in getting something done.

I'll give it five for delivery when David Cameron appoints a minister for older people.

SCORE:
Creativity: 5
Delivery: 4
Total: 9 out of 10

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