This ad accuses repressive governments of absent-mindedness

Another bad ad from Jeff Brooks that asks: why resort to abstraction when the truth itself is so powerful?

Written by
Jeff Brooks
Added
May 14, 2013

Another nonprofit tries to spread the word through inept abstraction.

You probably know that in many parts of the world it’s dangerous to be a journalist. In the places where the light of news reporting is most needed, reporters are at best kept from doing their work ­– and at worst being jailed, tortured, even killed.

I think that’s a pretty urgent situation. It’s a story – especially when you get to the specifics – that could get people to rally around with donations. Don’t you agree?

Apparently Reporters Without Borders (or their ad agency partners) don’t agree. They’ve decided to tell the story through an abstract metaphor.

Check it out:

Let’s analyse this: many people absent-mindedly chew on the ends of their pens. Pens become ugly as a result. This is somehow analogous to the violence and repression suffered by journalists? Some countries gnaw on journalists’ heads while they’re thinking about something else?

The metaphor is not only abstract, it’s inept. Repression of journalists is highly purposeful, the acts of evil and corrupt governments that know they’re better off in the dark. It's not a preoccupied compulsion.

One of the ads in this series comes perilously close to working. It’s the version with the red pen, where the ink looks enough like blood to call to mind the violence journalists face.

Well, it almost works.

Just remember: beware the ad agencies. They’ll do work like this for you. Though, as a recent commenter pointed out, it’s your own fault if it happens; the ad agencies can’t force nonprofits to look stupid.

Thanks to Osocio for the tip.

About the author: Jeff Brooks

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

Fundraising in a time of crisis and World-changers at Work: The Good Suspended video series

All around the world, people are doing amazing things to help others cope during the coronavirus pandemic. Italian fundraiser Francesco Ambrogetti shares some of his favourites in this video series, entitled The Good Suspended.

Read more

The most successful advertisement in the history of the world

What is the most successful advertisement ever? Legendary marketing expert Denny Hatch tells all and there’s so much fundraisers can learn from this.

Read more

Meet the world-changers - overcoming adversity: an interview with Michelle Berriman

This is one of the best interviews we’ve had on SOFII and certainly in the WoW! Project. Michelle Berriman, Executive Director at the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand, has had a fascinating and at times harrowing life. She has kindly and candidly shared her story with SOFII’s Joe Burnett to explain how she used her personal struggles to become a real world-changer at work.

Read more

Refugees build bridges across society

In an article originally written for Fair Observer during Refugee Week, Lyndall celebrates the contributions refugees have made to British society and how we can fight back against discrimination and prejudice.

Read more

Face-to-face fundraising: Bill’s story

Anne Marshall, Director of Field Operations for the Canada division of agency Up Fundraising, tells the inspirational tale of her friend Bill and how he is one of the best face-to-face fundraisers she’s ever met.

Read more

Also in Categories