Stupid ad trivializes tragedy

Stupid ads

If you’ve ever walked with someone as they descended into dementia, you know it is one of the most wrenching, anguishing things that can happen.

We should all fervently hope and pray for treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

And that’s clearly what the Alzheimer Society of Montréal wants too. But you can’t really tell from this stupid ad:

AlzheimerZero

Here’s a detail, so you can see the “punch line.”

Alzdetail

Alzheimer’s almost hits the category of “too scary to talk about.” And that might lead people to reach for metaphors and analogies to talk about the disease and what it does.

But this computer hard drive analogy is inept. Not only that, it’s glib and dehumanizing. Roger, even if he’s in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, is not a blank hard drive. He’s still human.

Worse yet, comparing the deep human tragedy of Alzheimer’s with the minor problem of a broken hard drive just pushes everyone further from understanding and caring about this disease. Losing a hard drive is a pain — possibly a huge pain. But it can’t even come close to comparing to the heartbreak, fear, and pain of Alzheimer’s.

What someone should have asked is this: What are we trying to accomplish? What action or attitude do we hope to engender with this message? It appears nobody asked that, so they ended up with a pointless and misleading analogy that trivializes the very thing the organization is dedicated to fighting.

As you might expect, this is the work of an ad agency.

Thanks to Osocio for the tip.

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

6 responses to “Stupid ad trivializes tragedy”

  1. I’ve been following your stupid non-profit ad series, but I must confess that this is possibly the most stupid I have seen. It goes behind stupid and is just demeaning and offensive to anyone actually suffering Alzheimer’s.

  2. I’ve been following your stupid non-profit ad series, but I must confess that this is possibly the most stupid I have seen. It goes behind stupid and is just demeaning and offensive to anyone actually suffering Alzheimer’s.

  3. I usually don’t, but this time I actually agree with your assessment of the ad. BUT, you lose all credibility with me when you slam all ad agencies.
    You should see the crap I receive weekly from stupid fundraisers that couldn’t tell a story if their life depended on it (and it sometimes does) and they seem to think that the more words used equals a larger donation. “As you might expect, this is the work of a professional fundraisers.”
    It’s OK to critique an ad, but keep your credibility and try to refrain from generalizing your criticism of an entire industry.

  4. I usually don’t, but this time I actually agree with your assessment of the ad. BUT, you lose all credibility with me when you slam all ad agencies.
    You should see the crap I receive weekly from stupid fundraisers that couldn’t tell a story if their life depended on it (and it sometimes does) and they seem to think that the more words used equals a larger donation. “As you might expect, this is the work of a professional fundraisers.”
    It’s OK to critique an ad, but keep your credibility and try to refrain from generalizing your criticism of an entire industry.

  5. Sorry, John, I can’t go with you on that. I’ll never be able to prove that the entire ad industry is bogged down in stupid when they try to market nonprofits, but the pattern is so clear and relentless that to say otherwise would be just ignorant. Theoretically, an ad agency can do good work for nonprofits, and if one does, chances are I won’t know about it. And just look at most commercial advertising: That industry suffers widespread stupidity even when they’re playing in their own sandbox. (Of course, you can also find many examples of excellence.)
    There’s a lot of bad fundraising out there, being done by bad fundraisers. But the problem is usually not stupidity, at least not the aggressive kind practiced by ad agencies. It’s usually fear, ignorance, or self-centeredness. I think we can heal some of those diseases. I doubt we can heal agency stupidity. If I can warn even one nonprofit away from agency snake-oil that will drag them into stupid marketing, I’ll feel good about what I’ve said.
    And in fundraising, more words, assuming they’re the right words, often do lead to larger and/or more donations.

  6. Sorry, John, I can’t go with you on that. I’ll never be able to prove that the entire ad industry is bogged down in stupid when they try to market nonprofits, but the pattern is so clear and relentless that to say otherwise would be just ignorant. Theoretically, an ad agency can do good work for nonprofits, and if one does, chances are I won’t know about it. And just look at most commercial advertising: That industry suffers widespread stupidity even when they’re playing in their own sandbox. (Of course, you can also find many examples of excellence.)
    There’s a lot of bad fundraising out there, being done by bad fundraisers. But the problem is usually not stupidity, at least not the aggressive kind practiced by ad agencies. It’s usually fear, ignorance, or self-centeredness. I think we can heal some of those diseases. I doubt we can heal agency stupidity. If I can warn even one nonprofit away from agency snake-oil that will drag them into stupid marketing, I’ll feel good about what I’ve said.
    And in fundraising, more words, assuming they’re the right words, often do lead to larger and/or more donations.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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