Shadow of stupidity leaves the cause in the dark

Stupid ads

For every skill you can imagine, no matter how esoteric and useless, there’s someone who’s so amazingly good at it, they take your breath away.

There’s not a whole lot you can do with that little truth, other than watch some silly but fairly entertaining YouTube videos that demonstrate it, such as this or this.

Or maybe you could produce a stupid nonprofit ad. Like this one for frequent stupid nonprofit ad victim World Wildlife Fund UK, for their Save the Cerrado campaign:

(Or see it here on YouTube.)

Using the “Symbolism Not Reality” practice so favored by ad agencies, this ad attempts to make the case that we need to protect the Cerrado, a unique and endangered ecosystem in Brazil. But rather than enchant with the beauty of the Cerrado, or dramatically demonstrate its destruction, they’ve put on a really amazing hand shadow show.

I admit it does elicit a wow.

But you’re saying wow about the wrong thing. The hand shadows are pretty cool, but I bet the Cerrado and its inhabitants are much, much more beautiful and emotionally impactful.

The only connection between the amazing hand shadows and the actual Cerrado is a weak pun: “It’s in your hands.”

It seems some marketing genius decided that pun makes shadows of hands more relevant than pictures of the incredible landscape they hope we’ll care enough about to take action for …

Well, I’m presuming a bit. The marketing genius probably didn’t think about it that way. He more likely thought Get people to look with no thought of getting people to act, or which people it might make sense to seek out for action.

So another cause goes underserved, because a Stupid Nonprofit Ad that calls attention to itself instead of the cause.

Thanks to Creative Advertisements for NGO for the tip.

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

14 responses to “Shadow of stupidity leaves the cause in the dark”

  1. Tens of thousands of people have taken the action that’s called for by the video. I’d say it’s elicited a little more than just a “wow”.
    Having been one of the team involved in the development of the brief for this piece of work, I’d say it’s reached an incredibly wide range of people within our target audiences, with a *very* impressive conversion rate. Your gut reaction may say “show the people, eyes work best”, but in this instance the Cerrado has a stark beauty that doesn’t necessarily evoke the response you might expect. Highlighting peril and destruction isn’t our style – it can create a numbness in people as they feel helpless to make a difference. Hence the abstraction route.
    Obviously stupid is in the eye of the beholder and maybe for the audiences you work on this wouldn’t work, but for us the results speak for themselves.
    And if you think this is stupid, you’re going to HATE this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hO5FFRykOA
    🙂

  2. Tens of thousands of people have taken the action that’s called for by the video. I’d say it’s elicited a little more than just a “wow”.
    Having been one of the team involved in the development of the brief for this piece of work, I’d say it’s reached an incredibly wide range of people within our target audiences, with a *very* impressive conversion rate. Your gut reaction may say “show the people, eyes work best”, but in this instance the Cerrado has a stark beauty that doesn’t necessarily evoke the response you might expect. Highlighting peril and destruction isn’t our style – it can create a numbness in people as they feel helpless to make a difference. Hence the abstraction route.
    Obviously stupid is in the eye of the beholder and maybe for the audiences you work on this wouldn’t work, but for us the results speak for themselves.
    And if you think this is stupid, you’re going to HATE this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hO5FFRykOA
    🙂

  3. I disagree that it’s stupid. It’s engaging, mesmerizing. At this point, I think most people are already numb to environmental devastation messages. We see the polar bear on the ice floe and change the channel. We get it. We know it’s a problem. We just want to watch something else, please.
    But this keeps one’s attention. You’ll watch it and forward it to your friends, “look at how cool this is!” The WWF gets a few more eyeballs and maybe a couple of new donors out of it.

  4. I disagree that it’s stupid. It’s engaging, mesmerizing. At this point, I think most people are already numb to environmental devastation messages. We see the polar bear on the ice floe and change the channel. We get it. We know it’s a problem. We just want to watch something else, please.
    But this keeps one’s attention. You’ll watch it and forward it to your friends, “look at how cool this is!” The WWF gets a few more eyeballs and maybe a couple of new donors out of it.

  5. Meghan Nesbit Avatar
    Meghan Nesbit

    I think I would put this in more of the brilliant camp than the stupid camp. The human hands also reflect our involvement in the problem and the potential solution. In some ways, it’s a very empowering message, and definitely one that will be shared. Speaking of, thanks for sharing it with me!

  6. Meghan Nesbit Avatar
    Meghan Nesbit

    I think I would put this in more of the brilliant camp than the stupid camp. The human hands also reflect our involvement in the problem and the potential solution. In some ways, it’s a very empowering message, and definitely one that will be shared. Speaking of, thanks for sharing it with me!

  7. The point of this campaign was to get people to click through to the campaigning page of the WWF website, and email various UK supermarkets to ask them to stop using soya beans from this region of Brazil, the production of which is destroying the landscape. The video’s function is not fundraising, it’s awareness and action.
    Four months after being made it’s still being talked about and picking up youtube views, although this blog isn’t a fan of social media so presumably that’s not important. The only comment you could make is that WWF aren’t especially great at getting the word out, as the version on their channel only has 594 views, and the same video on the communications agency and production company websites has combined views of almost 100k.

  8. The point of this campaign was to get people to click through to the campaigning page of the WWF website, and email various UK supermarkets to ask them to stop using soya beans from this region of Brazil, the production of which is destroying the landscape. The video’s function is not fundraising, it’s awareness and action.
    Four months after being made it’s still being talked about and picking up youtube views, although this blog isn’t a fan of social media so presumably that’s not important. The only comment you could make is that WWF aren’t especially great at getting the word out, as the version on their channel only has 594 views, and the same video on the communications agency and production company websites has combined views of almost 100k.

  9. The video has narrative power and strong point of view. The “language” of shadow puppets is compelling and effective. Two comments: The “reveal” of the arms behind the hands is too soon (illusion should remain until final ask); narration doesn’t match visual in power or tone. But still a first rate idea and solid execution. We need new frames and forms to tell our stories better and this fills the bill.

  10. The video has narrative power and strong point of view. The “language” of shadow puppets is compelling and effective. Two comments: The “reveal” of the arms behind the hands is too soon (illusion should remain until final ask); narration doesn’t match visual in power or tone. But still a first rate idea and solid execution. We need new frames and forms to tell our stories better and this fills the bill.

  11. I don’t think that is has the ‘Wow’ factor to carry it very far, it certainly doesn’t make you want to watch the whole thing. Its cool but the novelty wears off half way through. 60,000 views is pretty abysmal for youtube.

  12. I don’t think that is has the ‘Wow’ factor to carry it very far, it certainly doesn’t make you want to watch the whole thing. Its cool but the novelty wears off half way through. 60,000 views is pretty abysmal for youtube.

  13. 130,000+ views if you include the other video platforms it’s currently hosted on.
    “Abysmal for youtube”? If you’re comparing it against videos of dancing cats, maybe, but again, the key thing is how many people *did something* after watching it and for this, it’s a very good conversion rate.
    Critically, as a result of the campaign several of the largest UK supermarkets have committed to only stocking sustainably sourced soya.

  14. 130,000+ views if you include the other video platforms it’s currently hosted on.
    “Abysmal for youtube”? If you’re comparing it against videos of dancing cats, maybe, but again, the key thing is how many people *did something* after watching it and for this, it’s a very good conversion rate.
    Critically, as a result of the campaign several of the largest UK supermarkets have committed to only stocking sustainably sourced soya.

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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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