07 August 2008

ASPCA: Marketing For a Cause Gone Awful

I'm a huge animal lover. I have two rescue dogs, two rescue cats, and would probably have a houseful if only I had acreage.

But I cannot watch the ASPCA commercial that's been on the air now for several months. (I'm embedding it below, but I warn you that it's hard to watch, and might be near impossible if you're an animal lover. I had to stop it playing on YouTube just so I could copy the link. If you're sensitive, might just skip it and take my word for it.)



It's been running on the Food Network, which is a favorite TV destination of mine. This whole thing is awful to me for two big reasons.

1) Food Network is losing a viewer on a regular basis, because every time the commercial comes on, I switch channels. And often I forget to switch back. This morning, I've switched three times in the last hour, and I now will not go back for fear of running into this spot again.

2) The ASPCA has gone past the line of sympathy and empathy, and crossed into anguish. If I can't watch the commercial because of how distressing it is, I'm not going to be compelled to stay tuned and give. It's causing the opposite reaction - complete avoidance, despair, helplessness. That's not what they're after I'm sure. And I've heard from literally dozens of people who won't watch the commercial either. Are they giving?

Tugging at heartstrings might have it's place in advertising, marketing, fundraising - emotional appeal is a cornerstone of strong messaging, and I understand the motivation. But I think there's a line. I'd be much more likely to get online and give if I saw a spot full of success stories - happy animals moving on to bigger and better lives after being rescued by the ASPCA. Instead, I'm afraid to head to their site lest I be bombarded with horrific images of mistreated animals all over again.

I *know* what the ASPCA does - I'm not ignorant of the mistreatment of animals, it's harsh reality, and the great strides the ASPCA is making to combat it. But seeing it in all of its brutal reality isn't making me more likely to get closer to their organization.

So what do you think? Is this spot too extreme for you, or do you think this is just the right message? Are you motivated to give, or to change the channel?
Zemanta Pixie

8 comments:

Frank Martin said...

In my opinion, that commercial is a little over the top. It doesn't so much create an affinity as it does create emotional trauma - there is no sense of "shared grief" that could be ameliorated for both of you if you send a check.

Does it work? Does the ASPCA get enough extra cash to support the expenditures on the Food Network? What does their image/brand look like among people who have watched it?

My guess is they're missing it with this one.

I Can't Keep Up said...

Let's face it, nothing breeds more success, like success. What about demonstrating past successes in a way that earns the viewers interest and desire to be a part of something positive?

David Mullen said...

I agree that it goes overboard. By focusing on the torment, it leaves me feeling overwhelmed. How can we help all the animals under abuse? There are too many? What could my little paltry donation do to fix THAT big a problem.

By focusing on success stories, I'd feel like this is a problem that can be defeated, even if it's one success story at a time. I'd feel connected to that sweet pooch in the spot and filled with joy knowing he's going to have a happier life. I'd feel like my little donation could help save another sweet pup, even if just one. And saving that one would be worth it for me.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, I'd feel empowered to make a difference in the life of one.

Connie Reece said...

I'm with you, Amber. I absolutely *cannot* watch that commercial; it is too upsetting to me. It's the combination of the visual with that haunting lyric about death that makes it unbearable.

Ann Handley said...

Honestly, haven't seen it -- I took your word that it would be upsetting. But having read your post and the comments, it seems the ASPCA is wandering into PETA territory, by focusing on suffering and cruelty. Do we need to be aware of it? Yes -- but the in-your-face approach fills me with despair.

Beth Harte said...

Amber, thank you for bringing this up! I have two rescue animals (a deaf dog and a cat) and I cannot watch this commercial...it literally brings me to tears. As you said the ASPCA is missing the mark. If I go out of my way to avoid this commercial and turn it off as soon as I hear Sarah McLachlan, how is that compelling me to donate? In fact, I am actually angry with them for using such horribly abused animals as a scare tactic for donations. It's wrong.

The PSPCA (PA SPCA) is one of my favorite charitable organizations and I really like the way they handle their marketing with good news, stories of animals that have thrived in the shelter and have then gone to good 'forever' homes, etc. It's heartwarming and I look forward to hearing from them each month! Their marketing works!

Tomboys said...

I agree, This commercial is to painful to watch. They play it on CNN all the time too. I always turn the sound down and go to my computer or something.

Anonymous said...

I love animals dearly and have 2 rescue kitties. but this has gone too far. I had that song played at my husband's funeral, and shortly after, the commercial came out. Not only is it heartbreaking by itself, but is a constant reminder of my husband's death. Channels I no longer watch because of that commercial are Nick at Night, Family Channel, Spike, Animal Planet, and now HGTV & Food Network. Makes me wonder if the donations can offset what has to now be a huge advertising budget. Enough is enough.

07 August 2008

ASPCA: Marketing For a Cause Gone Awful

I'm a huge animal lover. I have two rescue dogs, two rescue cats, and would probably have a houseful if only I had acreage.

But I cannot watch the ASPCA commercial that's been on the air now for several months. (I'm embedding it below, but I warn you that it's hard to watch, and might be near impossible if you're an animal lover. I had to stop it playing on YouTube just so I could copy the link. If you're sensitive, might just skip it and take my word for it.)



It's been running on the Food Network, which is a favorite TV destination of mine. This whole thing is awful to me for two big reasons.

1) Food Network is losing a viewer on a regular basis, because every time the commercial comes on, I switch channels. And often I forget to switch back. This morning, I've switched three times in the last hour, and I now will not go back for fear of running into this spot again.

2) The ASPCA has gone past the line of sympathy and empathy, and crossed into anguish. If I can't watch the commercial because of how distressing it is, I'm not going to be compelled to stay tuned and give. It's causing the opposite reaction - complete avoidance, despair, helplessness. That's not what they're after I'm sure. And I've heard from literally dozens of people who won't watch the commercial either. Are they giving?

Tugging at heartstrings might have it's place in advertising, marketing, fundraising - emotional appeal is a cornerstone of strong messaging, and I understand the motivation. But I think there's a line. I'd be much more likely to get online and give if I saw a spot full of success stories - happy animals moving on to bigger and better lives after being rescued by the ASPCA. Instead, I'm afraid to head to their site lest I be bombarded with horrific images of mistreated animals all over again.

I *know* what the ASPCA does - I'm not ignorant of the mistreatment of animals, it's harsh reality, and the great strides the ASPCA is making to combat it. But seeing it in all of its brutal reality isn't making me more likely to get closer to their organization.

So what do you think? Is this spot too extreme for you, or do you think this is just the right message? Are you motivated to give, or to change the channel?
Zemanta Pixie

8 comments:

Frank Martin said...

In my opinion, that commercial is a little over the top. It doesn't so much create an affinity as it does create emotional trauma - there is no sense of "shared grief" that could be ameliorated for both of you if you send a check.

Does it work? Does the ASPCA get enough extra cash to support the expenditures on the Food Network? What does their image/brand look like among people who have watched it?

My guess is they're missing it with this one.

I Can't Keep Up said...

Let's face it, nothing breeds more success, like success. What about demonstrating past successes in a way that earns the viewers interest and desire to be a part of something positive?

David Mullen said...

I agree that it goes overboard. By focusing on the torment, it leaves me feeling overwhelmed. How can we help all the animals under abuse? There are too many? What could my little paltry donation do to fix THAT big a problem.

By focusing on success stories, I'd feel like this is a problem that can be defeated, even if it's one success story at a time. I'd feel connected to that sweet pooch in the spot and filled with joy knowing he's going to have a happier life. I'd feel like my little donation could help save another sweet pup, even if just one. And saving that one would be worth it for me.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, I'd feel empowered to make a difference in the life of one.

Connie Reece said...

I'm with you, Amber. I absolutely *cannot* watch that commercial; it is too upsetting to me. It's the combination of the visual with that haunting lyric about death that makes it unbearable.

Ann Handley said...

Honestly, haven't seen it -- I took your word that it would be upsetting. But having read your post and the comments, it seems the ASPCA is wandering into PETA territory, by focusing on suffering and cruelty. Do we need to be aware of it? Yes -- but the in-your-face approach fills me with despair.

Beth Harte said...

Amber, thank you for bringing this up! I have two rescue animals (a deaf dog and a cat) and I cannot watch this commercial...it literally brings me to tears. As you said the ASPCA is missing the mark. If I go out of my way to avoid this commercial and turn it off as soon as I hear Sarah McLachlan, how is that compelling me to donate? In fact, I am actually angry with them for using such horribly abused animals as a scare tactic for donations. It's wrong.

The PSPCA (PA SPCA) is one of my favorite charitable organizations and I really like the way they handle their marketing with good news, stories of animals that have thrived in the shelter and have then gone to good 'forever' homes, etc. It's heartwarming and I look forward to hearing from them each month! Their marketing works!

Tomboys said...

I agree, This commercial is to painful to watch. They play it on CNN all the time too. I always turn the sound down and go to my computer or something.

Anonymous said...

I love animals dearly and have 2 rescue kitties. but this has gone too far. I had that song played at my husband's funeral, and shortly after, the commercial came out. Not only is it heartbreaking by itself, but is a constant reminder of my husband's death. Channels I no longer watch because of that commercial are Nick at Night, Family Channel, Spike, Animal Planet, and now HGTV & Food Network. Makes me wonder if the donations can offset what has to now be a huge advertising budget. Enough is enough.

07 August 2008

ASPCA: Marketing For a Cause Gone Awful

I'm a huge animal lover. I have two rescue dogs, two rescue cats, and would probably have a houseful if only I had acreage.

But I cannot watch the ASPCA commercial that's been on the air now for several months. (I'm embedding it below, but I warn you that it's hard to watch, and might be near impossible if you're an animal lover. I had to stop it playing on YouTube just so I could copy the link. If you're sensitive, might just skip it and take my word for it.)



It's been running on the Food Network, which is a favorite TV destination of mine. This whole thing is awful to me for two big reasons.

1) Food Network is losing a viewer on a regular basis, because every time the commercial comes on, I switch channels. And often I forget to switch back. This morning, I've switched three times in the last hour, and I now will not go back for fear of running into this spot again.

2) The ASPCA has gone past the line of sympathy and empathy, and crossed into anguish. If I can't watch the commercial because of how distressing it is, I'm not going to be compelled to stay tuned and give. It's causing the opposite reaction - complete avoidance, despair, helplessness. That's not what they're after I'm sure. And I've heard from literally dozens of people who won't watch the commercial either. Are they giving?

Tugging at heartstrings might have it's place in advertising, marketing, fundraising - emotional appeal is a cornerstone of strong messaging, and I understand the motivation. But I think there's a line. I'd be much more likely to get online and give if I saw a spot full of success stories - happy animals moving on to bigger and better lives after being rescued by the ASPCA. Instead, I'm afraid to head to their site lest I be bombarded with horrific images of mistreated animals all over again.

I *know* what the ASPCA does - I'm not ignorant of the mistreatment of animals, it's harsh reality, and the great strides the ASPCA is making to combat it. But seeing it in all of its brutal reality isn't making me more likely to get closer to their organization.

So what do you think? Is this spot too extreme for you, or do you think this is just the right message? Are you motivated to give, or to change the channel?
Zemanta Pixie

8 comments:

Frank Martin said...

In my opinion, that commercial is a little over the top. It doesn't so much create an affinity as it does create emotional trauma - there is no sense of "shared grief" that could be ameliorated for both of you if you send a check.

Does it work? Does the ASPCA get enough extra cash to support the expenditures on the Food Network? What does their image/brand look like among people who have watched it?

My guess is they're missing it with this one.

I Can't Keep Up said...

Let's face it, nothing breeds more success, like success. What about demonstrating past successes in a way that earns the viewers interest and desire to be a part of something positive?

David Mullen said...

I agree that it goes overboard. By focusing on the torment, it leaves me feeling overwhelmed. How can we help all the animals under abuse? There are too many? What could my little paltry donation do to fix THAT big a problem.

By focusing on success stories, I'd feel like this is a problem that can be defeated, even if it's one success story at a time. I'd feel connected to that sweet pooch in the spot and filled with joy knowing he's going to have a happier life. I'd feel like my little donation could help save another sweet pup, even if just one. And saving that one would be worth it for me.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, I'd feel empowered to make a difference in the life of one.

Connie Reece said...

I'm with you, Amber. I absolutely *cannot* watch that commercial; it is too upsetting to me. It's the combination of the visual with that haunting lyric about death that makes it unbearable.

Ann Handley said...

Honestly, haven't seen it -- I took your word that it would be upsetting. But having read your post and the comments, it seems the ASPCA is wandering into PETA territory, by focusing on suffering and cruelty. Do we need to be aware of it? Yes -- but the in-your-face approach fills me with despair.

Beth Harte said...

Amber, thank you for bringing this up! I have two rescue animals (a deaf dog and a cat) and I cannot watch this commercial...it literally brings me to tears. As you said the ASPCA is missing the mark. If I go out of my way to avoid this commercial and turn it off as soon as I hear Sarah McLachlan, how is that compelling me to donate? In fact, I am actually angry with them for using such horribly abused animals as a scare tactic for donations. It's wrong.

The PSPCA (PA SPCA) is one of my favorite charitable organizations and I really like the way they handle their marketing with good news, stories of animals that have thrived in the shelter and have then gone to good 'forever' homes, etc. It's heartwarming and I look forward to hearing from them each month! Their marketing works!

Tomboys said...

I agree, This commercial is to painful to watch. They play it on CNN all the time too. I always turn the sound down and go to my computer or something.

Anonymous said...

I love animals dearly and have 2 rescue kitties. but this has gone too far. I had that song played at my husband's funeral, and shortly after, the commercial came out. Not only is it heartbreaking by itself, but is a constant reminder of my husband's death. Channels I no longer watch because of that commercial are Nick at Night, Family Channel, Spike, Animal Planet, and now HGTV & Food Network. Makes me wonder if the donations can offset what has to now be a huge advertising budget. Enough is enough.