Monday, February 2, 2015

The Market and Death

In short: The Super Bowl is known for cool ads--ads that make us laugh; ads that are irreverent; ads that stick; and ads that we'll talk about and share.

This super bowl ad season did not disappoint. Well not the advertisers anyway--they got the attention they wanted. But it did disappoint this bereaved mom. In particular the ad that used child death to sell it's product to get people to link to it's pages and to remember it's name. I'm not linking the ad and I'm not naming it. You can figure it out if you desire. But I am sharing my thoughts about it, because many in my community are conflicted about it.

The ad shows a boy who is unable to do what all the other children are doing. Then after a few examples he explains that he's dead. And then the company shows images of preventable, but all to common household accidents that result in a child's death.

And, I've been thinking about this one. Some liked it because finally someone was talking about child death. But, I didn't like it. Not because it reminded me my child is dead--like I ever forget she's gone.
Not because it was an inappropriate venue to discuss child death--for me everything's on the table for discussion. I'm not afraid to talk death.

It's because they didn't start with "we care about your kids." Instead they drew folks in with light music, heartwarming images, and manipulated the expectations of the market. The market--you know--us. And the market research told them that this approach would ge a strong emotional reaction and the stronger the emotional reaction, the more likely consumers (again us) will remember the brand. They used the element of surprise like a M. Night Shyamalan movie, and this I believe, was purposeful. I suspect the company knew there would be outrage and controversy because that very outrage translates to free social media marketing. I don't believe for an instant that they aimed to diminish the viewer's shock and horror at realizing that they were staring at a dead child. Rather, that emotion was their aim. And they succeeded.

Nope, I didn't like it. I didn't like what I perceived as a "sucker punch" to parents of living children, hopeful parents to be, and bereaved parents with or without living children.

I am sorry children die. I'm sorry my child died. I'm not afraid to include my child in casual or formal conversations. I'm no longer so fragile to avoid or be destroyed for days after viewing a storyline about children dying.

The "mad men" succeeded in starting a conversation as they claimed was their goal, but I can't award any kudos for their efforts. They'll get those in website hits and $$$.