Stupid misconception about the inner lives of children

Stupid ads

Hey, I have a great idea for a fundraising campaign. Here’s the brief:


  • Even though it’s about suffering children, don’t show any children. (Nobody is emotionally connected to children anymore, right?)
  • The centerpiece will be a series of images that most people will not be able to identify. (That’ll make them pay more attention, right?)
  • Explain the image with a slogan that completely undercuts the cause. (Cognitive dissonance!)

Okay, not such a good idea. But it seems to be the brief for this agency-created campaign for War Child, a UK nonprofit. Here’s one of the ads:

Child-soldier-some-words-dont-belong-together-hand-grenade

There are several other print ads (or posters?) in the campaign, and even a video on YouTube, none of which sheds any more light on the message:

It’s easy to convince children that killing is a game.

Think about that slogan for a moment. If you personally know any children, the falsity of it is breathtaking. In fact, the monsters who create child soldier don’t lure them in with fun and games — they do it with appalling violence and drugs. They psychologically destroy the child to turn him into a killer.

And if it were true that it’s easy to convince children that killing is a game, saying so would be an ineffective way to arouse the empathy of potential donors. Apparently, in the alternate universe where this ad agency is located, children are just one step away from being war criminals.

Like most Stupid Nonprofit Ads, the whole premise is an insanely ill-conceived visual metaphor. You probably didn’t realize those things on the posters were weapons made from balloons — much less the point they’re trying to make.

I hope nobody paid for this disaster. Even more, I hope nobody outside the “look-at-our-cool-pro-bono-ad” echo chamber sees the misleading message.

Thanks to Creative Advertisements for NGO for the tip.

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

8 responses to “Stupid misconception about the inner lives of children”

  1. Not to menion I had a hard time reading who to text to.

  2. Not to menion I had a hard time reading who to text to.

  3. Susan Ruderman Avatar
    Susan Ruderman

    I thought the green balloony thing was a model for an artificial heart (really!). Since the print on the ad is so inconspicuous, I thought maybe the point of the whole campaign was a pitch for organ donation. Maybe convince kids to go out and recruit organ donors? Or worse, “create” organ donors by killing people?! The ad is a perfect case study for how not to do an ad. These days, we have a mili-second (if that)to communicate with a potential donor. We have to get it right–or not do it at all.

  4. Susan Ruderman Avatar
    Susan Ruderman

    I thought the green balloony thing was a model for an artificial heart (really!). Since the print on the ad is so inconspicuous, I thought maybe the point of the whole campaign was a pitch for organ donation. Maybe convince kids to go out and recruit organ donors? Or worse, “create” organ donors by killing people?! The ad is a perfect case study for how not to do an ad. These days, we have a mili-second (if that)to communicate with a potential donor. We have to get it right–or not do it at all.

  5. Abbi Swatsworth Avatar
    Abbi Swatsworth

    They will probably think that all the Youtube views they get as a result of your followers means the campaign is good. Sad. It’s one of the more stupid ones you’ve highlighted recently. Stupid and so insensitive…

  6. Abbi Swatsworth Avatar
    Abbi Swatsworth

    They will probably think that all the Youtube views they get as a result of your followers means the campaign is good. Sad. It’s one of the more stupid ones you’ve highlighted recently. Stupid and so insensitive…

  7. Totally agree with you on the stupidity of this advertising campaign. The slogan is particularly irritating because they are implying that these child soldiers enjoy what they are doing (as if it were a game). This is very far from the truth, as most of them are forced into this lifestyle against their will. It always amazes me how some marketing campaigns get the go-ahead, without anyone stepping back for a second to really analyze what they are doing.

  8. Totally agree with you on the stupidity of this advertising campaign. The slogan is particularly irritating because they are implying that these child soldiers enjoy what they are doing (as if it were a game). This is very far from the truth, as most of them are forced into this lifestyle against their will. It always amazes me how some marketing campaigns get the go-ahead, without anyone stepping back for a second to really analyze what they are doing.

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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 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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