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, 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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