Stupid misconception about the inner lives of children

Hey, I have a great idea for a fundraising campaign.

Written by
Jeff Brooks
May 14, 2013

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 centrepiece 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 campaign for War Child in the UK. Here’s one of the ads:

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 know any children, the falsity of it is breathtaking. In fact, the monsters who create child soldiers 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 realise those things on the posters were weapons made from balloons much less the point they’re trying to make.

Thanks to Creative Advertisements for NGOs for the tip.

About the author: Jeff Brooks

Jeff Brooks

Jeff Brooks, creative director at TrueSense Marketing, has served the nonprofit community for more than 20 years, working as a writer and creative director on behalf of a variety of organisations, including CARE, Bible League International, World Vision, Feeding America, World Relief and dozens of urban rescue missions and Salvation Army divisions. He blogs at Future Fundraising Now, podcasts at Fundraising is Beautiful and is a columnist forFundraising Successmagazine. In previous careers, he's been an English teacher and a classical musician. He lives in Seattle in the USA.

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