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

21 and ½ tips for writing better fundraising materials

Fundraising copywriter extraordinaire Lisa Sargent is back, with more essential advice on how to harness the power of your writing. In this article Lisa shares her tried-and-true checklist for better fundraising materials. Follow these tips and help ensure your donor communications shine... every time!

Read more

British Muslims are the most generous group in the UK – how can fundraisers engage them?

Blue State’s essential report shows that UK Muslims gave four times more in the last 12 months than UK average. Almost half are planning to give more to charity in the next year. Three in four have already donated to support individuals impacted by the war in Gaza. And one in two are open to giving their Zakat to charitable organisations. What does this mean for charities and fundraisers like you?

Read more

New study finds legacy giving has gained ground beyond boomer generation

Legacy giving is one of the largest sources of voluntary income for UK charities, but what are the latest trends in legacy giving? These new findings from a long-running benchmarking study provide vital insights for fundraisers – simply click to learn more.

Read more

Team Trees – digital fundraising success in aid of the Arbor Day Foundation

This article celebrates a viral campaign that has been making a big impact since 2019. Keep reading to learn how two men took on a challenge to plant 20 million trees, engage Gen Z donors, and achieve fundraising success for the Arbor Day Foundation.

Read more

Unleash the might of the donor – power as a component of a fundraising plan

Your donors want to make a difference. But sometimes when they give, they aren’t sure if their generosity is making an impact. In this article, Mark Phillips shares three techniques you can add to your fundraising appeals. Each one will help ensure your donors know that they DO have the power to make a difference.

Read more

Also in Categories