Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bad Advertising

My concerns with this ad:

Nonhumans are not "its". Dogs are sentient beings who can think and emote. A sweater cannot and is appropriately referred to as an "it". Language is powerful. We diminish the inherent worth and value of another living being when we call them "what" or "it".

Animal shelters are not morgues. They are not where animals go to die. An animal shelter provides safety, warmth, and act as an advocate for the animals in its care. It is or will become a place where animals are adopted. If it is not these things, then it needs to be changed. Using language that perpetuates what should not be instead of promoting what should be excuses the current system.

Dogs are gifts! Children are gifts! Would you seriously tell someone adopting a foster child during the holidays that they are awful, evil people who are only going to subject that child to misery and death? Adoptions around the holidays should be encouraged. Nurture those innate feelings of compassion.

Holiday adoptions can be done responsibly. Shelters could, for example, get the ball rolling by offering holiday match-making services early in December so that all pertinent screening can happen before the holidays. Pets Alive in New York is even offering to "be" Santa and deliver the happy dog to their home on Christmas day.

So why is this bad advertising? Because it does not make you feel good. It does not inspire you to action. It uses language that diminishes instead of enhances.

Spread a little holiday cheer
Make the best New Year's Resolution!
Adopt a dog or cat for Christmas (or minus the Christmas part)

That kind of advertising makes you feel good and good marketers know that, around the holiday season, using words wisely is important. People like to feel warm, gentle, content, comforting this time of year. Plus it encourages people to save a life...and people LOVE saving lives!

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