an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Vintage Friday: Ride-Sharing with Hitler

Posted by Rosepixie on June 11, 2010

This is a poster advocating ride-sharing from World War II.

The text reads:

When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!

Join a car-sharing club today!

Is it just me, or does this poster seem a bit… overdramatic?  I mean, it was definitely a worthwhile thing to get people to think about and do during the war, but doesn’t the phantom Hitler seem a bit much?  It just seems like the issue could have been portrayed seriously, simply and memorably in a more positive (maybe less scary) way.  Maybe showing that car-sharing helps keep troops fighting or something.

And is it just me, or does Hitler look kind of upset?  When I first saw this poster I thought he was crying, but now I don’t think he is, I think he just looks very upset.  If the guy driving the car by himself is helping Hitler, shouldn’t Hitler be happy about that?  The driver, on the other hand, looks pretty content… despite the phantom Hitler riding shotgun.  I’m not sure the artist of this poster really understood the concept here…


Posted in Advocacy, Vintage | 1 Comment »

Haagen Dazs Help the Honey Bees: Disappearing Dancers

Posted by Rosepixie on June 8, 2010

This is an ad from a campaign by Haagen Dazs (the ice cream makers) to raise awareness of disappearing honey bee populations and encourage people to donate to research programs aimed at understanding what’s going on and reversing it.

I think that this is an interesting ad.  It’s part of an advocacy campaign, but spends almost no time explaining its cause.  At the end of the ad it tells us that honey bees are disappearing and asks us to help, but it doesn’t tell us anything about why this is an important issue or how we can help.  It’s clearly trying to get people’s attention and trying to be cool, but is it succeeding?  After seeing this ad do you remember the cause or do you remember people dancing around dressed as honey bees?  I’m guessing more people remember the dancers than remember the  cause.

So does this kind of ad help?  Well, it probably doesn’t hurt, but I’m not sure that’s actually helpful.  It clearly cost a fair amount of money to make this ad (it uses a good number of real actors/dancers, bee costumes, a set, etc.).  That isn’t to say the money was wasted or that another ad wouldn’t have cost just as much, but if you spend a certain amount on an ad that only manages to attract a small amount of donations (which is the only way the website suggests people can help), I have to wonder if it was worth it.  Is there another ad they could have made that would have been more effective?  Possibly.  I doubt it’s easy to get people to understand it importance and urgency of this cause.  Until it effects them, may people are likely to consider it just another campaign to protect animals.  And a lot of people don’t like bees and may not realize there are different kinds.

So I appreciate that this has to be a hard campaign to advertise for.  I’m just not sure I agree that this ad is the best approach.

Posted in Advocacy | 1 Comment »

Banned Books Week: Be Your Own Robot

Posted by Rosepixie on May 22, 2010

The American Library Association creates promotional materials for the various campaigns that libraries across the country run and one of the big ones is Banned Books Week.  It happens every year and is designed to promote awareness of the issue and encourage people to read banned books and fight against censorship.  Each year the campaign has a theme that carries through the promotional materials.  This is the poster for the most recent one.

The text reads:

Think for yourself and let others do the same.

Banned Books Week

I love this poster.  It features three robots who are of essentially identical design, but the one in the middle has removed the plug from his head and has a different eye color and a smile instead of a serious frown.  He’s reading a book.  The other two stand at attention, but the reader looks casual and comfortable, enjoying his book.  I have to wonder what he’s reading (my first inclination is that it’s something like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? but that seems too obvious).

Besides being cute, this poster does a good job of conveying the position of the library’s campaign through an image.  They worry that the people trying to deny access for everyone to anything they see as objectionable are doing so because they want everyone to think and act the same way – to be identical, programmed robots who never question or think outside the box.  This is a simplification, of course, but it does get to the root of the issue.

I think this is actually one of the most effective posters for Banned Books Week I’ve seen.  It’s image is clear, the message is uncomplicated and easily understood.  It’s also one of the riskiest, one of the most daring.  It directly shows what opponents of censorship fear the ultimate goal for censors is, and that’s a more political and almost belligerent things to do than simply list books that have been banned or encourage people to read them.  It’s more interesting, engaging and effective than many of their previous campaigns, despite its simplicity.  And that may be why it’s my favorite of the ones I’ve seen.

Posted in Advocacy | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Amnesty International: Idyllic Visions of Childhood

Posted by Rosepixie on May 4, 2010

This is an ad from Amnesty International that I came across online recently.

The text reads:

Caution – Children at War

Abolish the use of children soldiers worldwide.  Children have the right to be children.

Amnesty International

While I can’t argue with the cause, children being used as soldiers is a pretty horrifying practice, this ad struck me as somehow not very realistic.  Children have very different lives in different parts of the world.  Kids in well-to-do, advanced nations are, for the most part, afforded “the right to be children”.  They live more protected lives where they are prohibited from working, required to go to schools which are specially designed to basically keep them in “age-appropriate” boxes for most of the day, and surrounded by media that is carefully vetted and labelled on it’s appropriateness for them (and usually restricted from accessing media that is considered too far above their “appropriate” age bracket).  They are encourage to spend their days playing and learning and dreaming.

This is not the life that kids in less well-to-do, advanced countries live unless they are from very well-to-do families.  There are places where kids marry at young ages (girls marry at age ten or even younger in some parts of the world).  There are places where they work very hard to earn money or keep the family household running from very young ages – they might be working jobs or they might be raising their siblings and doing all the work at home while their parents are gone all day.  There are places where kids take horrible jobs that we in the US would likely consider not fit for anyone to be doing, much less a child, and they are probably doing it for pennies.  There are places where little girls are prostitutes because they and their families can’t find any other options.  Children do not “have the right to be children” in a lot of world.

And I’d agree that it’s horrible that children are soldiers and fighting in horrible, bloody wars, but some of them do so because not to would be worse.  Some of them are fighting to improve their lives and the lives of their families.  Some are fighting because they see it as a preferable option to whatever they would otherwise be having to do.  Some are forced into it, yes, but some are just as dedicated to their causes as the adults who lead them.  Some truly believe that they are fighting for a better life or that agreeing to be a soldier will save them from otherwise certain pain and anguish.  And some of them are right – it is a better option.  And that is horrible.

But I’m not sure that a cute, Western, well-to-do “children have the right to be children” approach is going to help.  Because while the cause is important and it is vital to stop children from fighting and dying needlessly in wars, stopping them from being solders just to send them back to miserable lives as very small adults with no rights isn’t really fixing the problem.  For some it’s taking them out of a bad situation they didn’t want to be in and sending them back into another, for others it’s taking away the one thing they felt they had – the right to fight back.

I appreciate what Amnesty International is trying to do here, but I think they’re going at this from entirely the wrong angle and that it has the potential to hurt kids who are already in bad situations.  And that is something I can’t support.  I think that when you’re advocating a global issue like this, you need to step beyond your very narrow cultural viewpoint and think larger and I think that this ad completely fails to do that.

Posted in Advocacy | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Candie’s Foundation: Celebrities on Teen Pregnancy

Posted by Rosepixie on April 17, 2010

The Candie’s Foundation is an organization that produces shiny advocacy ads aimed at convincing teen girls that they don’t want to be pregnant.  They do this most often by pairing celebrities that teens recognize and like with more or less random statements about how having a baby as a teenager would not be fun.  A few examples of their ads:

What do Ciara, Fall Out Boy and Hilary Duff have to do with babies? Your guess is as good as mine.  But it seems that they’ve finally gotten a “celebrity” who actually is a teen mom – Bristol Palin.  Now, she doesn’t exactly make being a teen mom look miserable, but at least she can tell you why:

The ad is right, it’s the girls who aren’t rich and famous who really have a hard time when they get pregnant young.  The problem is that the girl in the ad doesn’t have that problem – she is rich and famous.  And the people in the other ads aren’t even teen moms.  They may be famous faces that get attention, but they seem kind of out of place in the ads!

If Candie’s wanted to use faces girls would recognize but made sense, why not try Ellen Page, who at least played at pregnant teenager?  Or the girls from the popular reality shows about teen pregnancy who actually are pregnant teenagers?  Or better yet, why not give up the famous faces idea and use real teen moms who have real stories to tell?

While I can appreciate what this campaign is trying it do, it feels disingenuous to me.  The pieces of the ads don’t fit together and that makes me wonder how actually committed to the message they are, or if they just want to make sure people notice the ads.  They could make ads that are just as pretty and glossy with regular girls as they can with photos of celebrities.  And they might find that they would be more effective that way.

Posted in Advocacy | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

FCINO: Sheep

Posted by Rosepixie on March 30, 2010

This is a political ad paid for by Carly Fiorina, a businesswoman running for one of California’s Senate seats, attacking Tom Campbell.

This ad doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense.  I mean, the voice over makes a certain amount of sense (although it definitely assumes that you already agree with it’s position), but the imagery is totally off the wall.  I have no idea where the sheep thing came from, since sheep aren’t really known for their fiscal conservatism as far as I know and no other reason for using the image was given or even really implied.  The weird flashing image changes throughout the middle worked more as a distraction, making it hard to focus on what was being said, than anything else.  They weren’t helpful at all.

The voice over at the beginning also left a lot to be desired.  It really didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  I thought I was watching an ad for something religious (and not in a good way – in a crazy cultish sort of way), not something to do with budgets.  Once it got into it’s message, it made a little more sense, but near the end it started to wander and get really confusing again.  Whoever wrote the script for this ad was clearly a fanatic about the topic, but also clearly not a great communicator.

Here’s the real problem: the ad didn’t tell me what I was supposed to be voting for.  And after not giving me something solid to remember to vote for (assuming I agreed with it), it was confusing and not very clearly memorable.  A few minutes after watching it all I remember is that the ad said Tom Campbell was bad with money… somehow?  And something about evil sheep.  That’s not a great advertising move.  I’d totally forgotten the stuff about the budget and taxes and everything within a few minutes.  I remembered the demon sheep, but I had no idea what it had to do with anything.  Nothing was well connected and too many pieces of information were presented in weird scatter-shot ways.  That’s not a great way to bring attention to your cause.  It’s a good way to get me to remember the other guy’s name.  And on voting day, if I can remember his name and not yours, chances are I’m going to vote for him unless I *really* hate him.

Posted in Advocacy | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: Star Wars PSAs

Posted by Rosepixie on March 26, 2010

These are two public service announcements by the cast of the Star Wars movies.  I know the second one is from 1979 and I’m guessing that the first one is from around the same time.

The Droids tell us why not to smoke:

We learn that in the Star Wars galaxy, friends don’t let friends drink and drive:

I think that the first ad is far more effective than the second, since it does more than just give us a slogan, but they both made me laugh.  How does a droid smoke anyway?  And aren’t they piloting or flying, not driving?  Regardless, I think these are pretty good uses of the Star Wars IP.  I especially like the little postscript at the end of the first ad where C3pO is wondering if he has a heart.  It was sweet and very in character (it also reminded me of the Tin Woodman of Oz, which made me smile).

What do you think of these ads?  Would they make you decide not to smoke or drive drunk?  Would you at least remember them?

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Pathfinder: Double Meaning

Posted by Rosepixie on March 13, 2010

This is an ad for Pathfinder, a charitable organization that works to improve women’s access to birth control around the world.

What I find particularly interesting about this ad is the two ways that the image can be read.  Obviously, it is a woman’s hand with fingers crossed.  The obvious meaning is that she’s hoping for something (in this case, presumably that she won’t get pregnant).  The second way it could be seen however is that she’s evoking crossed legs – the way young girls are often taught to stay virginal, regardless of how practical the advice actually is.

Truthfully, the crossed-legs method is probably a more reliable method of birth control than the crossed fingers, but for many women it’s not as achievable.  Pathfinder is suggesting that those women need better options.

I actually think that this image works really well for the message they are trying to convey.  This is one of those issues where a print ad isn’t going to convince the people who aren’t already convinced, so you really just need an evocative ad to catch the attention of the people who are and encourage them to take action.  This is an evocative ad and has a good chance of doing that, so I think it works.

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Feminists for Life: A Misreading

Posted by Rosepixie on February 23, 2010

This is an ad from Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group.

The text reads:

Another anti-choice fanatic

“Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own it has been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.” – Susan B. Anthony

The woman who fought for the right to vote also fought for the right to life.  We proudly continue her legacy.

This is an interesting advocacy ad.  It’s very insidious because it takes a figure we are taught to admire very much, presents a quote taken entirely out of context, and then interprets it exactly as it wants to for us, ignoring what the quote actually says and refers to.  The hope is that we will be so busy thinking “wow, Susan B. Anthony thought this way, why don’t I?” that any misinterpretation of the quote itself will be completely overlooked.

So let’s look at that quote.  It does mention unborn babies, but it doesn’t mention anything even related to abortion.  See, one of Anthony’s big issues was mother’s rights because at the time, children belonged to the father.  This meant that women had no say over what happened to their children if their husbands or lovers didn’t want them to.  It also meant that in the event of a divorce, the father kept the children.  This also meant that if a man got a woman he wasn’t married to pregnant, he could take the child as long as he was willing to admit the indiscretion.  Anthony was working to change the laws that made that so.  Women did the vast majority of the childrearing, so it seemed terribly unjust to her and to other women of the time that their children could be ripped away from them at a moment’s notice because a spouse got tired of them or died and willed the children to a sibling or something.  When Anthony mentioned “unborn little ones”, she wasn’t referring to fetuses, she was referring to the children that women would have in the future.  The future when children couldn’t be taken from their mothers because children belonged to fathers and not mothers.

While abortions absolutely did happen during Susan B. Anthony’s lifetime and it’s entirely conceivable she knew about it, I’d be shocked if she ever mentioned it.  She was rather a prude and tended to avoid even giving a position on anything too controversial.  I’m not sure she’d be too fond of being used as a spokeswoman for any campaign relating to reproductive rights, regardless of the position.

Quotes are great and I love seeing them in ads.  They can ad a lot of credibility to an ad or a cause.  But they need to be used in context.  It’s not fair or right to take a quote and make it mean whatever you want it to mean.  That makes me more suspicious of your campaign, not more likely to agree with you.  If you’re either more concerned about swaying minds than being truthful or too lazy to do real research, you’re not dedicated enough to your cause to get me to agree with you.

Posted in Advocacy | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Global Warming Undo It: For the Baby!

Posted by Rosepixie on February 7, 2010

This is an ad from the Environmental Defense Action Fund as part of their Global Warming Undo It campaign.

This ad is blatantly playing on the “aw” factor as well as the protective urges many people feel when they see babies.  They want you, the viewer, to want to protect this baby and ensure it’s future is perfect.  The idea is that people don’t care enough about global warming because they think it won’t affect them in their lifetimes, but they might care about how it will affect someone they care about who will be around longer than them and will feel the affects.

While this is about the cheapest shot they could have taken for many people, it works.  It reminds people that the future matters, even if we won’t be here to see it.  This may not be how I would wish they would advertise their cause, but it is an effective way to do it, and it’s not particularly offensive.  And the baby is cute.

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