land mines and lung cancer…

I watched on the television this morning an extremely violent and graphic advertisement for an anti land mine group. The ad showed a family watching a soccer game during which one of the players steps on a land mine. The ad also showed the anguished mother’s cries as well as the bloodied stump of her daughter’s leg. It was horrible to watch. I felt as if I were watching a horror movie but much worse and it took me a few minutes to understand it was not a movie but an ad to raise awareness of the danger of land mines.

The other day I saw an ad persuading people not to smoke by graphically showing the affects of cigarettes on lungs. The ad showed a surgeon operating on a man with lung cancer and the damaged lung tissue. It was also terrifying.

I bring up these ads because they are so dramatically different from the ads used in the past to encourage people to stop an unhealthy behavior or to encourage people to donate to a cause. In the “olden days” the advertising world used positive reinforcement to encourage charitable giving. That approach appears to have changed.Scare tactics were understood to have little success in the advertising world and were tried for a brief time and then given up. I wonder why they are appearing once again? I wonder if they are more successful this time around?I can’t imagine they are but I may be wrong. Forcing people to watch terrifying situations doesn’t encourage them to donate to a cause but, rather, to turn off the image. Perhaps the new generation of TV watchers is responding to these graphic images and it is only my generation that resists them.Perhaps images of violence are so commonplace to those in their twenties, these ads serve to remind them of healthy behavior and benevolence  in a way they listen to.

I find this scary.

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