Stupid nonprofit ads deserve to die

Stupid ads

Some causes are harder to raise funds for than others. One of the toughest assignments is raising funds to help people who are perceived to have got themselves into their problem in the first place.

Lung cancer is in that category. Because of decades of successful anti-smoking marketing, everyone knows about the correlation between smoking and lung cancer. Some people have the attitude that those who have lung cancer “brought it on themselves” by smoking. Which is ridiculous.

I’m giving you what I assume was the brief for a campaign by the Lung Cancer Alliance and noonedeservestodie.org. The goal, I guess, was to encourage a more compassionate and sensible response toward lung cancer, which should lead to more financial support.

Let’s see how well it succeeds:

Or see it here on YouTube.

There’s a print/outdoor version too:

Catloversdeservetodie

This campaign was reported recently in the New York Times, at Cancer Campaign Tries Using Shock to Change Attitudes, as an example of “shockvertising” — the theory that you can get a lot more attention by being shocking.

It’s true that being shocking will probably get you more attention, and has got this campaign attention. Problem is, just getting attention doesn’t accomplish anything. You have to get the right kind of attention. Just making people angry about something you said but didn’t really mean is of no value.

This campaign is in trouble because it invites misunderstanding. It’s based on misdirection — not just once, but in two layers:

Cat lovers deserve to die

Oh — ha, ha. That was a misdirection. What we really meant to say was:

Cat lovers deserve to die … If they have lung cancer

Gotcha! That was a misdirection too! I bet you’re so confused you’re more open to considering what we really want to say:

Many people believe that if you have lung cancer you did something to deserve it. It sounds absurd, but it’s true. Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate and neither should you.

If you’ve spent any time in the trying-to-make-people-understand-you field, you may have noticed that any time you say something contrary to what you want people to get, they don’t get it. They think you mean what you say. When you say “cat lovers deserve to die,” they think you’re a creep. When you amend that with “If they have lung cancer,” they think you’re some kind of monster.

And they stop paying attention.

And they don’t change their attitude.

And they don’t give any money to a worthy cause they’d no doubt have been open to supporting — if they’d been competently approached.

Once again, an ad agency has applied flawed advertising logic to nonprofit marketing. Just say no!

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

4 responses to “Stupid nonprofit ads deserve to die”

  1. What were the results for this campaign? Did it bring in donations or other measurable results?

  2. What were the results for this campaign? Did it bring in donations or other measurable results?

  3. I just made a donation.

  4. I just made a donation.

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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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