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 has served the nonprofit community for more than 30 years, working as a writer and creative director on behalf of a variety of organisations including CARE, World Vision, Feeding America, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, National Wildlife Federation, and many more. He blogs at Future Fundraising Now and Moceanic. In previous careers, he’s been an English teacher and a classical musician. He lives in Seattle in the USA.

Recent Articles

Will you join these kind fundraisers at the heart of SOFII?

Who are the SOFII One Hundred? They are fantastic fundraisers from around the world – and you can find them at the heart of SOFII. Read on to discover more about this group of caring people and learn why they have chosen to help fundraisers today, tomorrow and forever.

Read more

New year, new changes in digital fundraising – five tips to help you prepare

Changes in online marketing and data privacy have made it harder than ever to find new donors. And as we embark on a new year in fundraising, more shifts are on the horizon. So what can fundraisers like you do to make sure you’re prepared to communicate with and nurture your donors in an ever-evolving digital landscape?

Read more

Legacy brochures from 90 years ago – what’s the same and what’s different to today?

This is a rare ‘legacy edition’ from our ever-growing fundraising history project. Marina Jones has uncovered some gems in The Salvation Army archive, two legacy brochures from the 1930s. In this article she looks at what’s stayed the same (Marina found ten things!), as well as what’s changed, when it comes to talking to donors about making a gift in their will.

Read more

When fundraising collapsed – are we ready for a new era of responsible fundraising?

As we enter another year in fundraising, Giles Pegram is pausing to look back. In this article, he reflects on some important moments in his time as a fundraiser – from 1983 to the present. Giles also refers to the lessons found in the Commission on the Donor Experience and offers fundraisers ten tips that he believes will help you usher in a new era of responsible fundraising.

Read more

SOFII’s best of the best showcase - introduction and contents

This showcase collates all the greatest fundraising campaigns currently on SOFII. Be prepared to be inspired and amazed by the very best fundraising ever. And you can suggest other appeals or projects that resonated with you as well.

Read more

Also in Categories