The stupid ending of a really stupid movie

Stupid ads

It’s been a long time since a Stupid Nonprofit Ad has been featured on this blog. More than a year. I’m not sure if that’s because there’s less nonprofit stupidity out there or because I’m just becoming numb to it. (I hope it’s the former, but it’s probably the latter.)

This example of nonprofit stupidity is interesting, because it’s trying to do something smart. Bit it tripped and fell into a big vat of stupid along the way.

It’s part of a series of print ads (I guess that’s what they are) done for Oxfam UK, a long-standing champion (or victim) in the International Stupid Nonprofit Adlympics.

Oxfamendad

I’m not sure it’s clear what we’re looking at, so I’ll tell you. It’s a take on how old movies used to end: While the dolly-camera pulls back from the finally shot, the gigantic words THE END fill the screen.

It makes no sense whatsoever, at least on its own, so it was necessary to add a little bit of explication. (Which ought to have served as a warning way back in the brainstorming stage that the concept isn’t quite as crisp as they hoped it was.)

Here’s that explication:

Extreme poverty has been halved in just fifteen years

Together we can make it a story from the past

I am 100% in favor of letting our donors know that their giving is actually succeeding at making the world a better place. Far too many people never give to charity because they believe there’s no point — that nothing changes no matter how much money you apply to the problems.

Which is a huge and tragic lie. Because in so many areas, from poverty fighting to animal welfare to medical research, things really are getting better!

That’s not the stupid part.

The stupid part is the abstract and unclear way they make the point.

In each case (the one shown here is one of three similar pieces), the scene is one of squalor. Poverty, right? But all of them lack visible and relatable human beings. The top (and probably only) reason anybody is willing take action against poverty.

Probably every fundraiser who is held responsible to — you know — raise funds — knows this central truth: You don’t move people to give to challenging them with a massive “issue” like poverty. You do it by showing a human-sized problem and a donor-sized solution. You challenge them to help someone in need … not fight (or “halve” poverty in general.

And the part about this that’s really troubling, is the ad characterizes our long and not-yet-finished fight against poverty as a “story” — as if it’s a fluffy entertainment from the out parents’ era.

Please: It’s not a story. It’s real.

And telling the truth is the best way to get people on board.

So if you’re actually serious about fighting poverty for real, and you want others to join you in the fight, you’re going to have to get concrete and straightforward. Fast.

Abstractions that stand for reality, and visual puns that push reality farther away don’t move people to action.

To Oxfam’s credit (I think), I’ve found no evidence that they are guilty for this mess. It’s a “gift” from an ad agency that wants to win an award — which they might well achieve, as the judges are just as clueless about what it takes to meaningfully fight the world’s problems as the ad agency is.

Thanks to Osocio for the tip.

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

2 responses to “The stupid ending of a really stupid movie”

  1. jcrilly5@gmail.com Avatar
    jcrilly5@gmail.com

    “Oxfam UK, a long-standing champion (or victim) in the International Stupid Nonprofit Adlympics.” And yet this long-standing member of stupid ads helped cut extreme poverty in half. thanks Oxfam – Keep the stupidity coming and we will end extreme poverty in our lifetime.

  2. jcrilly5@gmail.com Avatar
    jcrilly5@gmail.com

    “Oxfam UK, a long-standing champion (or victim) in the International Stupid Nonprofit Adlympics.” And yet this long-standing member of stupid ads helped cut extreme poverty in half. thanks Oxfam – Keep the stupidity coming and we will end extreme poverty in our lifetime.

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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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