The ad that trivialises tragedy

If you’ve ever walked with someone as they descended into dementia, you know it is one of the most gut-wrenching, anguishing things that can happen. We should all fervently hope and pray for treatments and a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Written by
Jeff Brooks
Added
May 14, 2013

And that’s clearly what the Alzheimer Society of Montréal wants too. But you can't really tell from this stupid ad:

Here’s a detail, so you can see the ‘punch line’:

Alzheimer’s almost hits the category of ‘too scary to talk about’. And that might lead people to reach for metaphors and analogies to talk about the disease and what it does.

But this computer hard drive analogy is inept. Not only that, it’s glib and dehumanising. Roger, even if he’s in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, is not a blank hard drive. He’s still a human being.

Worse still, comparing the deep human tragedy of Alzheimer’s with the minor problem of a broken hard drive just pushes everyone further from understanding and caring about this disease. Losing a hard drive is a pain – possibly a huge pain. But it can’t even come close to comparing to the heartbreak, fear and pain of Alzheimer’s.

What someone should have asked is: What are we trying to accomplish? What action or attitude do we hope to engender with this message? It appears nobody asked that, so they ended up with a pointless and misleading analogy that trivialises the very thing the organisation is dedicated to fighting.

As you might expect, this is the work of an ad agency.

Thanks to Osocio 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.

Recent Articles

A question of competency

Interviewing well for fundraisers is like interviewing for any post.  It’s all about the questions you ask.  

Read more

The 6Ps: a blueprint for transforming fundraising. For good.

The six steps to change outlined here provide windows onto a vast body of work compiled through 2016 and early 2017 by upwards of a thousand individual volunteers for the Commission on the Donor Experience (CDE).

Read more

Gender equality in salaries starts with us

Marc A Pitman shares his anger at the way we accept gender disparity when it comes to salaries, and challenges the charities sector to change its ways for the good of all organisations.

Read more

Spot the elementary mistake in this advertisement

Embracing the Internet is of course crucial for modern charities. Andrew Papworth, however, argues that this World Food Programme ad makes the mistake of ignoring an important section of society by focusing so heavily on online users.

Read more

Good asking: the role of research in efficient, effective and enjoyable fundraising.

Why does good asking need research? This is the question explored in this fascinating report by Beth Breeze of the University of Kent, and her conclusions will inspire every fundraiser who reads them.

Read more

Also in Categories