Back in the Saddle

I have left the City of Brotherly Love for the warm weather and proximity to family North Carolina has to offer. The abundance of sweet tea, barbecue and comfortable cost of living doesn’t hurt either.

489 miles, a new home, a new school for the kids, a new job for me and finally, three months later, I decided it’s time to get back in the swing of things. I always look forward to Halloween and all the festivities that surround this time of year, so why not jump right in with a short little post inspired by the holiday?

Is your costume clever or crass?
I recently tweeted about a campaign students at Ohio University launched to encourage people to rethink Halloween costumes ‘reducing a culture to a caricature.’ I admit I found their original campaign to be lacking and accusatory toward a specific race (although, probably unintentional). I still find it a bit accusatory, but I applaud the students for taking an intelligent and well-designed campaign and pushing it even further for 2012.

Image from the 'Culture not a Costume' campaign.

Prepare to be Shocked
The AT&T ‘It Can Wait’ campaign caught my eye several months ago. It was reminiscent of the ‘This is your brain on drugs’ PSA from my youth. But these were better. These were better for the same reason movies based on true stories are always better. Because knowing it’s true makes you pause and think, ‘This could happen to me.’

The effectiveness of fear appeals in advertising is something I remember from my graduate school days. Using fear appeals is a gamble. You rely on making an emotional connection with your audience. And when it comes to fear, you are often confronted with an ‘it will never happen to me’ attitude. Younger audiences are generally guilty of this, so ads with shock value are developed to create a sense of urgency. Take a look at the comments on YouTube regarding the AT&T ‘Where r’ commercial. The reactions to spots in the ‘It Can Wait’ campaign range from a disgusting absence of empathy to complete failure to comprehend the message. It will leave you muttering, “The horror. The horror.”