Category Archives: Advertising

TV Diary: Week of June 16

Back at the BarnyardThe kids are with me this week during the day for a few hours now that school is over (who invented this by the way? Months and months of forced childcare expenses and lost work time. Next year, I encourage them to fail and go to Summer School.) In the mornings, the TV is on for a while. Only eductional programming of course, Math shows and documentaries on the history of Sweden. And sometimes nick. I want to like Sponge Bob. I really do. But the sounds of the title character’s wailing are uniquely annoying in a piercing way that cuts across your temples through your brain severing that part that makes you not want to kill people. By the way, Back at the Barnyard is full of smart and slightly inappropriate humor that flies over the heads of kids and into the other room where you’re working on your laptop. It’s created by Steve Oedekerk of the Thumb Wars series. This morning there was a Freud character on the farm and I overheard one of his patients, a pig or a cow, having a breakthrough exclaiming with tears “I just realized my mother only loved me as a friend!” I came back in the room at a certain point (is this a clue to how long I “allowed” the TV to be on this morning) and saw a McDonald’s ad. In it a bunch of kids are skipping through a black and white forest carrying Happy Meals and as they swing them about by their handles all the foliage behind them turns to color. My kids exclaimed this was the “Avatar commercial.” With that ad McDonald’s has really captured the essence not just of the spirit of that movie but of environmental consciousness as a whole. I was surprised because I think of Happy Meals turning kids fat and littering the scarred strips of green lining the nation’s highways with flimsy bits of weathered cardboard and greasy wrappers. But I guess I was wrong. I’ve really got to get out more.


No Sympathy: Gillette Children’s Unflinching Campaign Against Pity

One of the most common reactions to someone else’s bad news is not knowing what to say. The first instinct is to give comfort, to be positive, to offer advice. Without thinking, we take full responsibility for taking away someone’s pain, someone we perceive as helpless. With only two words Gillette Children’s brand campaign cuts through those assumptions decisively: “Cure Pity.”

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is a world-renowned, non-profit hospital in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The integrated campaign, which uses local broadcast, web, and out-of-home advertising to feature stories like Noah’s, inspires a new way of thinking—going from great to greater; from achievement to lasting achievement—as an alternative to our habitual response, which is to go from what we think of as “bad” to slightly better. From disabled to merely able. As a message, Cure Pity is powerful enough to help people start looking at their fellow humans a little differently.

The campaign is as smart and strategic as it is inspired.

Campaigns that cultivate pity induce a feeling of hopelessness that your one, meager contribution can make any difference. Perhaps you make one donation, one time, to shake off the uncomfortable feeling. Instead of pity, a more positive message invites compassion, which is an invitation to a deeper experience of shared humanity. Cure Pity asserts a call to action based on admiration instead of despair. It also subtly positions Gillette Children’s over an unnamed alternative: other hospitals that focus less on fostering quality of life and more on symptoms.

From a visual perspective, the campaign has one unrealized opportunity. It could do much more to pair up the copy with better design. Without both you wonder if an organization is fully committed to its message.

The strength of Cure Pity is storytelling. As a creative achievement, it asserts a social message that also helps a mission-driven organization continue to do great work. Advertising becomes culturally relevant when it can do either one of those things; curing pity does both.

– Eric Hayward

The government says you’re a bad dad.

This ad is from a campaign sponsored by the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Thanks for the help, but...

Couple of interesting assumptions in there.  One, that African American men aren’t good fathers.  Two, that anybody — especially a government agency — has the right to judge someone else’s parenting.  Helping families succeed and looking after kids are noble intentions.  This tactic smacks of the Moynihan era.

Fatherhood dot gov indeed.